Renters insurance used to be about covering your stuff

January 9, 2013

These days, it’s more important than ever because it can help prevent a needless, nasty lawsuit.

   POSTAGE  by Rob Stamp

It wasn’t all that long ago that any discussion regarding renters insurance strictly focused on providing adequate coverage for somebody’s personal property. If you suffered a fire or a tornado, or if your apartment or car got broken into, you needed renters insurance to collect most of what it would cost to replace what was lost. I intentionally wrote “most of what it would cost” because you’d be out your deductible if something bad happened and submitted a claim for a covered loss.

That’s still the primary purpose for having renters insurance. But, there’s another side to the renters policy that’s every bit as important. While Section I of every tenant homeowners policy pertains to property coverages, Section II deals with personal liability and medical payments coverages. This is your protection against something bad happening that somebody else wants to hold you personally responsible for. Here are some examples why a renter would need liability coverage:

  • Your dog bites a neighbor. (Doesn’t matter the jerk deserved it for the way he’s been taunting your poor puppy for years.)
  • Your errant tee shot conks some guy in the head two fairways over, he suffers a seizure and drools all over the EMT on the way to the hospital. (Doesn’t matter he hit into you guys three holes ago.)
  • Your tipsy friend has a few too many at your Super Bowl party, drives drunk and has a bad accident. (Doesn’t matter you cut him off before the fourth quarter started like they do at the game.)
  • Your kitchen grease fire gets out of control, then spreads throughout the building, sending frenzied fellow tenants screaming into the street. (Doesn’t matter how many times you complained to the cheapskate landlord about how unsafe his building is.)

More and more we see landlords requesting proof of insurance for their tenants because they want to make sure the liability coverage is in place should the renter be held liable for damage to their property. Few people have water beds these days, but you can probably imagine why that raised a liability concern from a building owner’s standpoint.

The surge in social media use creates a need for personal injury coverage that should also be addressed by the liability coverage provided in a renters policy. Libel, slander and defamation of character are no longer risks exclusive to writers and broadcasters. When purchasing renters insurance (or any homeowners policy, for that matter), be sure there are no exclusions for personal injury losses. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter and the like all raise the exposure for these types of claims and, because of that, many companies have removed personal injury coverage from the rest of the liability and now charge a separate premium for it. Believe me, it’s well worth it. Sad to say, but it’s become one of life’s necessities. Whether you own or rent.