Your apartment comes with precautions like smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and alarm systems. But what about extreme weather events and natural disasters?
Your landlord’s insurance may only cover the building structure. But you’ve done your due diligence and signed up for renters insurance, insurance coverage that protects you and your belongings inside your rental.
But depending on the natural disaster, your policy could not be exhaustive enough and provide you with enough coverage. Sure, a tornado may be included, but not a big flood or landslide.
According to esurance, the average renter owns about $20,000 in personal property. That’s a lot of valuables, many of which are unable to be replaced.
Learn more about what kind of storm damage renters insurance covers — and what it doesn’t — and how to make sure you’re covered. If you’re not sure about your coverage, don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance agent.
You’re covered for these
Most renters insurance policies cover damage from hail, lighting, windstorms, wildfires and the weight (think ceiling/roof) of ice, snow and sleet.
These perils, as they’re called by the insurance company, are often covered and you may receive a reimbursement to replace your damaged items.
If the wind breaks a window and your living room furniture gets ruined from the hurricane-force winds, you may be covered under your policy.
When speaking to your agent, depending on how bad the storm damage is, make sure that your policy covers alternative housing while repairs are ongoing. Your renters insurance may pay for you to stay at a hotel in the meantime.
You’re not covered for flood damage
Nearly 41 million Americans currently live in flood zones. But renters insurance does not cover flood damage, just water damage caused by appliances.
If there’s a high risk of floods in your area, consider an umbrella flood policy to protect yourself and your belongings. First, use the FEMA Flood Map to identify your area and its risk of flood.
If you need protection, the National Flood Insurance Program, a community program insurance policy, offers access to participating flood insurance providers. Before signing, ask how soon until the policy goes into effect — 30 days is the standard.
The flood policy will help you return your property to pre-flood conditions, according to FEMA.
Or earth movement
Half of U.S. residents are at risk for damage from an earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS). Most people think of California and the Pacific Northwest. But there are many spots around the country that exhibit earthquakes with enough magnitude to cause damage. Just last December, scientists recorded a 4.4 earthquake in Tennessee.
Earth movement doesn’t only include earthquakes, but also landslides and volcanic eruption. None of these events are included in your renters insurance coverage.
Depending on your home’s location, you may consider buying an additional policy for earthquake, landslide or earth movement protection. According to USAA, there are grants available in California to discount the price of earthquake insurance.
For landslides, an additional policy is required. It’s based on the property’s slope, house value, closeness to nearby mountains and hills and frequency of landslides. It’s expensive so be sure that your home needs it before pulling the trigger.
The main issue will be replacing your valuables after the storm damage. When looking for the best policy for you, talk to your agent about the benefit of replacement cost coverage vs. actual cash value coverage.
Depending on your items, one may be better than the other. Replacement reimbursement gives you the value amount for the item as if it was purchased today. The actual cash value is the depreciated value of it before the damage occurred.
How can your property manager help?
After the incident, follow up with your landlord or property manager to confirm the timeline of repairs. If the storm damaged the outside of the structure and deemed your home less than optimal for living, inquire about reimbursement for alternative living costs.
Inventory all damaged belongings once it’s safe to do so after the storm. Let your landlord know that you’re coordinating as well with your renter’s insurance. You’ll be glad that you have an up-to-date policy to help you get back on your feet during this scary time.