Consumer alert for renters: Do you have renters insurance?

DETROIT - In the past few week, so many residents of Metro-Detroit have learned they didn't have the insurance coverage the needed during the severe storms and flooding the week of August 11th.

Ruth to the Rescue recently highlighted some of the key facts about homeowners and flood insurance, and now the consumer unit would like to remind renters to make sure they have the coverage they might need.

"If there was a fire, if there was water damage, I just want to make sure I don't have to worry about it," said renter Bliss Allen.

She already knows that renters need to make sure they're protected. However, many people might not realize they are not insured by their landlord. Your landlord should have insurance for the building, but that policy will not cover what's inside the building, i.e. your belongings.

"Your clothes, your furniture, your linens, silverware, pots, pans dishes. All that sort of thing," said Walt Waggener, an agent for State Farm.

Each renter will have different needs, but each should consider the coverage they feel is necessary to best protect their belongings. Talk to an agent about coverage in the event of fire, theft, or water damage. The water damage question has hit so many metro Detroiters in the past few weeks.

What Flood Insurance Covers and Does Not

Similar to homeowners insurance, renters should no flood coverage is not included in the regular renters insurance policy. If you're renting a home in a flood plan, you should look into coverage for your belongings. All flood insurance is backed by the federal government. That policy will be totally separate from your renters policy.

You should also know...

1) Flood insurance never covers contents in a basement. It only covers the basement's foundation and dry wall. It does not cover carpeting, paneling, or tile. These may not be major concerns for renters, but you might avoid keeping belongings in the basement, unless they are raised or kept in water proof

2) Flood insurance will cover certain major appliances like furnaces, air conditioners, freezers in the basement. For renters that coverage may not help them-- if the landlord owns those appliances. Remember, you cannot get flood coverage for things like stereos, televisions, furniture, or other contents that are kept in the basement.

It's Sewer Backup, Get Covered!

For many storm victims in August, the damage came from water sewer backup. That's something totally different than a "flood". For insurance purposes, a flood is caused by water that comes pouring into a building from a river, lake, or some other source. Many local storm victims saw water backing up from the sewer. That type of disaster requires different protection.

Denise Cox of Donald K. Pierce & Company urges all metro Detroiters to consider water sewer backup coverage. "I think that they should buy the most water sewer backup coverage they can buy," said Cox. "We have a lot of basements here and a lot of people have finished basements and a lot of people keep a lot of things in their basements."

Renters should also ask their agents about signing up for that coverage. It will add to the cost of your renters insurance, but it could make a big difference if disaster strikes.

"I would hope the agent would bring it up, but its gonna ultimately be the responsibility of the buyer," said Cox.

Other Reasons To Look At Renters Insurance

If the recent storms aren't reason enough to make sure you have renters insurance, consider two other reasons. First, you can also purchase liability coverage with your renters policy. That will help protect you if anyone should be injured in your rented home or apartment. Second, bundling your renters insurance with your auto coverage could lead to lower costs.

"It may drop your auto insurance premium if you purchase a renter's policy and your renter's policy and your renter's insurance may cost less because you have auto insurance with the same company," said Walt Waggener, an agent for State Farm.

Each consumer should ask a lot of questions, shop around, and make the decision that works best for his/her situation. Hopefully, this Ruth to the Rescue consumer alert will give you the tools you need to be a smarter consumer.

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