Experts stress the importance of renters insurance before a disaster

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – As people in southwest Virginia and parts of Kentucky continue to scramble for help after devastating flooding, the Virginia Red Cross is asking renters to make sure they have every protection in place before disaster strikes.

Jonathan McNamara of the Red Cross says that while most people will never deal with a significant flood, many more small disasters happen every day that can be just as devastating for tenants.

“In the greater Richmond and Petersburg areas, we respond to about 39 fires a month,” McNamara said.

Although McNamara says the Red Cross is always ready to help people displaced by a fire, he says help can only go so far.

“We can give you resources for about three days to find a place to stay, replace some of those medications, clothes and buy some food and other supplies,” McNamara said. “It’s never going to cover the full amount of damage that can be caused, whether it’s lost items or supplies or all the things we put in our homes that renter’s insurance can protect.”

While renters insurance can go a long way in filling these gaps, too often, McNamara says she works with clients who simply don’t have it.

“We hear time and time again from clients after these types of events that they wish they had renters insurance and many times they didn’t even know they needed it,” McNamara said.

The biggest takeaway that people need to realize is that the management company or the people you rent from are not responsible for damage to your property. This responsibility falls on the tenant.

Patrick McCloud of the Virginia Apartment Management Association says renters insurance is generally affordable and can cost $15 to $20 a month or even less.

Not only belongings can be covered. McCloud says some policies may even cover hotel stays or alternative housing for people who have been displaced.

Renter’s insurance can usually be found under liability and personal property insurance.

Liability coverage takes care of things if you or someone else is responsible for damage that may have occurred to a home or apartment from an accident. Personal property covers damage to property that occurs as a result of you, a neighbor, or perhaps naturally.

McCloud says the number one reason he sees people go without renters insurance is because they don’t think disaster will ever happen to them.

While the Virginia Apartment Management Association doesn’t have data on the number of renters in Virginia who go without renters insurance, McCloud says it’s becoming more common for management companies to require renters to get a policy.

“Fortunately, over the past ten years we’ve seen more management companies require renters insurance, and that informs residents of their options and encourages them to get it,” McCloud said.

But this requirement is not universal. The provisions in Code Section 55.1-1206 require a landlord to provide notice if it does not require the tenant to have renters insurance.

For places that don’t require renters insurance, like some public housing, McCloud encourages people to contact an insurance company to be covered.

“We still see people who, even though it’s offered all the time, still don’t get it, and that’s a big mistake,” McCloud said. “What many people don’t realize is that they are one accident away from bankruptcy, and renters insurance can be the difference between people going bankrupt.”

McCloud says renters insurance doesn’t protect you from flooding. This requires separate flood insurance.

Suppose you are in an area that is prone to flooding. In this case, tenants should contact the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program or the Virginia Department of Conservation’s Flood Risk Information System. They will give you an idea of ​​living in a flood plain and your options for getting protection.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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