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Source: pmarkham via Flickr

Source: pmarkham via Flickr

We’ve all heard about the recent devastation caused by earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and fires that have swept the nation coast-to-coast.  Forces of nature are not to be reckoned with and as a tenant, you should be proactive in protecting yourself financially in the off-chance you drastically lose the contents and personal belongings that make your day-to-day life happen.

Often, tenants have a false sense of security thinking that they will automatically be covered if something were to happen to the home they are renting from a landlord or property manager.  It is not uncommon that lease agreements are written with the standard verbiage of something along the lines of “tenant shall hold the landlord/property manager harmless from any and all liability.” In layman’s terms, the landlord/property manager insurance policy covers the structure only, not the tenant’s personal contents.

No doubt insurance premiums can seem costly or a hassle, but imagine having to replace all of your belongings because a hurricane devastated your town last week.  The expense and inconvenience of replacing all of your clothes, jewelry, food, furniture, TV, computers, your smartphone, and all of the supplies it takes just to live each day will sky rocket if you do not have renters insurance.  You could find yourself spending upwards of $50,000-plus to replace everything plus finding a new rental.

Other considerations for obtaining a tenant insurance policy should be for issues related to vandalism or theft, liability reasons (example: slips and falls), or property defects causing destruction of personal property.  In the case of a property defect, it is typical that the landlord’s insurance policy will cover the structure only, so if the roof on your home leaks, the landlord will usually repair or replace the roof.  However, if the roof leaks down on your computer and ruins your expensive equipment, the landlord’s policy will typically only cover the roof, not your personal property because that would be covered by your renter’s insurance policy.

Renter’s or tenant’s Insurance is actually pretty inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.  You can usually obtain a policy for somewhere in the ballpark of $20 bucks a month and you can often receive a discount if you lump it together with your auto insurance policy.  As a landlord, I highly encourage my tenants to talk with an insurance agent about a renter’s policy.  It is a wise move that will pay off for you, in the rare event you find yourself in a dire situation.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

About the Author

Jessica Hickok is a REALTOR® Broker and Property Manager/Landlord with Dizmang Properties, Inc. (www.getpaul.com) in Springfield, Missouri where she and her business partner manage over 200 single-family homes. She is the Co-Founder of the web site www.landlordredlist.com and blogs about property management projects on her personal site at www.jessicahickok.com and via Twitter as @SugarCube.

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