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Renters Insurance: Everything You Need to Know after a Hurricane

Millions of Floridians were recently affected by Hurricane Irma. The threat from the storm initiated what is believed to be the largest evacuation in U.S. history and is estimated to have caused nearly $58 billion in damage. The recovery and rebuilding after the storm will take months—if not years—and will place a heavy financial burden on many property owners across the state. The rebuilding process will involve insurance claims, which will help those fortunate enough to have purchased coverage before the storm. After a storm, the spotlight is usually on those homeowners who have purchased homeowners insurance. But what about the more than one-third of Americans who rent? How do they replace their damaged property after a hurricane? The simple answer is renters insurance. Many renters across the state may have purchased renters insurance that will cover damages and expenses incurred from a hurricane and may not even know it. Or some may be on the fence about purchasing the coverage. A review of what typical coverage is provided by renters insurance policy may help relieve some of the financial burden by those who have purchased renters insurance or entice those who have not purchased the coverage to do so before the next storm arrives.

What Is Renters Insurance?

A renters insurance policy is a group of coverage designed to help protect you and your belongings when renting a home or property. A typical renters insurance policy includes liability coverage, protection for your belongings, and coverage for additional living expenses, should the home or apartment you are renting become temporarily uninhabitable. Some policies also include coverage for bodily injury and stolen personal possessions, including those stolen from your vehicle.

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

The coverage provided by renters insurance will vary based on each individual policy. In order to determine exactly what is covered under your policy, it is best to review your policy paperwork or to contact your insurance provider; often, this information can be found online by visiting your carrier’s website and signing in. There are, however, three basic areas that most renter insurance policies cover: personal property, liability, and additional living expenses. Personal property coverage will usually cover the cost to repair or replace your belongings, such as clothing, furniture and electronics. Liability coverage may cover repairs if you accidentally damage someone else’s property or a guest’s medical bills if you are found responsible for their injuries. Insurance coverage for living expenses will cover things like hotel costs in the event your home is uninhabitable, or replace food that may have been spoiled due to a power outage.

What Will Renters Insurance Cover After a Hurricane?

Some frequently asked questions related to coverage provided by a renters insurance policy after a hurricane include:

Are flood losses covered under my renters insurance policy?

Answer: Standard renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage, including damage from a storm surge. Flood coverage requires a separate policy from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), or from some private insurance companies.

Is property damage from a storm surge considered flood damage?

Answer: In short, yes. Therefore, reimbursement for damage from storm surge would have to come from a flood insurance policy.

Is wind damage covered under my renters insurance policy?

Answer: A standard renters insurance policy covers personal belongings that are damaged by wind from a storm. Damage unrelated to your personal possessions, such as damage to the structure of your rental, should be covered under the building owner’s policy.

Does my car insurance cover flood damage?

Answer: Flood damage to vehicles, including flooding from storm surge, is covered if you have purchased comprehensive coverage.

Does my renters insurance cover spoiled food from a loss of power?

Answer: Following a hurricane, some insurance companies may include food-spoilage coverage, usually for a set amount of up to $500 per appliance. To determine if your renters insurance policy includes this coverage, contact your insurance provider.

My home in uninhabitable. Does my renters insurance policy cover temporary living expenses?

Answer: Most renters policies cover additional living expenses—any additional costs over your regular living expenses—when you are displaced from your home by a covered loss and need temporary living arrangements. The amount is usually 20 percent of the total insurance you have on your home. Make sure to keep all of your receipts to document your expenses.

Are my evacuation expenses covered?

Answer: Generally, expense related to evacuation are only covered if there is also damage to your property. Again, it is best to contact your insurance provider to clarify your coverage.

Contact your renters insurance provider to file a claim.

If you have renters insurance and have incurred losses as a result of a hurricane, it may be best to contact your insurance provider to verify the coverage you have purchased. If you have yet to purchase renters insurance, this is a reminder that the Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1st and runs until November 30th. In the event you find yourself in a dispute with your insurance company over a claim, it may be best to contact an attorney at Dolman Law Group to help resolve the issue.

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Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765
727-451-6900

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