The tenants of Apt. 1006 in the Palisade Apartments might be liable for thousands of dollars in damages for neglecting to notice a toilet leak that soaked apartments from the 10th floor down to the ground. But if the tenants had renters hire & reward insurance, it would cover at least a portion of the damages to personal student property.
Renters insurance is a little-known safety net for students in case of fire, theft, tenant neglect or other damage to private property. Although a landlord’s building is insured, a tenant’s private property is not.
Several tenants living below the leak found their clothes soggy, their video game and TV equipment wrecked or their carpet ruined.
Tenant Resource Center campus coordinator Tanya Stanfield said tenants who suffered personal-property damages could file a private lawsuit against the tenants who caused the damage.
Palisade Apartments corporate counsel Michael Greiber said renters insurance is cheap and practical for students to obtain.
“My experience is that a low percentage of renters carry insurance, but we recommend it for everybody,” Greiber said. He said the insurance is typically less than $150 a year.
An American Family Insurance employee said insurance with American Family is $100 a year, but if one tenant in an apartment has the insurance, all of his or her roommates must also be insured in case of a fire or other accident in which a large amount of a tenant’s possessions are lost. She said the insurance covers up to $16,000 in damages but only $5000 in computer equipment.
“If you’re not covered, you’re stupid,” she said. “It’s so cheap.”
She said American Family renters insurance does not cover fraternities, however, because they are too risky.
Tenant Resource Center program director Megin Hicks said there are no current laws requiring landlords to tell students about renters insurance, although some landlords require their tenants to have it.
She suggested interested students should check into car insurance they might already have; insurance companies often have discounts for taking out extra policies with them.
“Make sure it covers the type of stuff where they could actually replace the items,” she said. Hicks said stolen items such as a bike do not have a large monetary return on claims, so students should weigh the different factors involved before purchasing insurance.
“Insurance is not so much important for something that’s stolen, but for fires like at the Towers where you can totally lose everything,” Hicks said.
Hicks said she could not think of any reason against securing renters insurance.
“Even if you don’t have a lot of money, it’s a lot easier to talk your dad into $100 for something like that,” Hicks said.