Tenant, Beware! The Perils of Leasing

If you are a tenant, you might believe that you have avoided many loss exposures, such as fire damage to the structure, associated with owning the building. However, have you read your lease lately? Really read it?

Many leases contain extensive insurance requirements that the tenant (you) must agree to meet. Although these usually include liability from your actions and responsibility for covering your property for loss, it’s easy to overlook the extent to which you might have agreed to cover exposures usually assumed to be the responsibility of the building owner.

For example, retail shopping areas often have an abundance of external glass windows. Although these are clearly the property of the building owner, many leases transfer any responsibility for damage to the windows to the tenant. The idea is that because you directly control the potential loss exposures for the glass (such as vandalism, accidental breakage, and maintenance inspections), you should provide the insurance. Similar reasoning might lead you to being held responsible under the lease for other losses not directly attributable to your own negligence.

Now is the time to pull out that copy of your lease. Review it with your legal counsel to see if there might be language or agreements that need addressing. Then let us review the document for its insurance implications (be forewarned — they won’t all be contained in a paragraph titled “insurance”). We’ll review with you, what your lease requires, how your current insurance program matches up with these requirements, and then offer guidelines for making any necessary changes to your protection.

Call us today to schedule an appointment. 877-994-6787

Renters Insurance – A Small Price to Pay for Financial Security

If you’re currently renting a house or apartment, you should strongly consider an investment in Renters insurance. No one likes to think about the possibility of a fire or a burglary, but these are real possibilities. Burglars can break in while you’re away and steal your computer, entertainment system, jewelry, and other valuable items. Without Renters insurance, you will have thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs to replace the stolen items. By contrast, if you have Renters insurance, you will promptly receive a check that covers either the replacement costs for the stolen items or the current value of the items — depending on which type of insurance policy you’ve purchased.

Maybe you believe there is little risk of a burglary in your geographic area, but what about the risk of fire? Fires strike randomly and can begin in electrical wiring over which you have no control. It’s unpleasant to contemplate, but you could come home to find that everything you own has been destroyed. With Renters insurance, you would have a check in hand quite soon to begin refurnishing your life. Yet another scenario for which Renters insurance can be of enormous benefit is personal liability. If a visitor is injured in your home, for example, by falling down the steps, you could be liable for her medical bills. Renters insurance would cover this liability. Some renters are under the impression that their possessions are covered by their landlord’s insurance. This is rarely true. Typically, the landlord’s insurance covers loss or damage to his property, not yours. Your landlord’s insurance also covers his liability in case anyone is injured on the property, though not always injuries inside your apartment.

Most renters can get comprehensive coverage for a few hundred dollars per year, depending on where they live. Considering the risks covered by Renters policies, this is a low cost for the potential benefits. Look around your house or apartment and take an inventory of items you would need to replace in the event of a catastrophe. Take note of high value or difficult to replace items such as antiques, furs, jewelry, or expensive art. Before you get a policy or immediately thereafter, you should record information on all your high value items, including details about the make, model, serial number, age, and costs (both purchase and current replacement). It might also help to have photos of these items for identification purposes.

A basic policy usually pays only for the actual cash value of your items at the time they were lost. In other words, they would be valued not at what you paid for them originally or what it would cost to replace them, but at their actual value as used items. So a 3-year-old computer would be covered for its initial cost minus depreciation. Since computers depreciate quickly, yours might be worth little by the time it’s 3 years old, so your insurance proceeds will be limited.

If you have expensive items like electronics that are subject to depreciation, you should consider replacement cost coverage. With this type of policy, you would be reimbursed for the current cost of buying a new equivalent item. Thus, in our example of the $2,000 computer at 3 years old, you would receive a check that would enable you to buy a new computer. Of course, replacement cost coverage is more expensive. It’s up to you to decide which type of coverage — actual value or replacement cost — best fits your needs and budget. Like most other insurance policies, your Renters policy will have deductibles. A deductible is an amount of loss you will have to absorb yourself before receiving any money from the insurance company. For example, let’s say you have a policy with a $500 deductible. You have cameras you bought for $2,000 several years ago. If you have replacement cost coverage and the cameras are lost in a fire, you would receive a check for $1,500 from the insurance company. Of course, you can lower your insurance premium by accepting a higher deductible, but this means if there is a loss, you must absorb more of it from your own pocket.

Renters insurance usually does not cover damage from floods or earthquakes, but you might be able to get endorsements for these and other “acts of God.” An endorsement extends the perils covered by your policy. Obviously, you must pay an extra premium for the extra coverage. Be sure to discuss any special high value items, such as antiques, furs, and jewelry with our protection coaches®, since you might need extra coverage for these. As mentioned, a basic Renters policy includes liability coverage should someone be injured in your rented home or apartment. As with Auto insurance, there is a per-incident limit on this coverage, and you should make sure this is high enough to protect your assets.

Give us a call today for your free insurance quote at 951-600-5751 or email us at insure@siaonline.com.