Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Renter's Insurance

Chris worked a structure fire this weekend. The unit and its contents were completely destroyed by the smoke and fire. The Department did not have to put any water on it since the fire eventually ran out of oxygen. Apparently the fire started when a candle (lit because of the power outage) went out of control.

The family was left homeless and without most of their belongings. The Christmas tree was burned and all the child's gifts were destroyed. Thankfully the family was not injured. The family had no renter's insurance. See also Daily Progress article on South 1st St fire a day after the fire Chris worked.

In Virginia renter's insurance is not required although a landlord covered by the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act may require it. Landlords who require it have to follow the very specific requirements of the law.
Key components of the law
1) Only covers Act landlords (which has specific requirements including number of units owned by the landlord)
2) Tenants can acquire their own insurance and must be notified in writing of that right.
3) If the landlord acquires the insurance, he/she must put the tenant as a co-insured so that the tenant can have privity of contract with the insurance company (since the tenant is paying premiums on the insurance)
4) The sum of security deposit plus renter's insurance (or damage insurance) can not be more than 2 month's rent.

I say all of this as information NOT advice (sorry for all the caveats) if you are a tenant, renter's insurance is a great and affordable investment. If you are an Act landlord, consider requiring this insurance to protect your investment. Consult an attorney to determine whether you are an Act landlord and for the best way of writing this language into your lease. Consult an insurance agent for costs and coverage of such insurance.


Jim Duncan said...

Renter's insurance is such a cheap insurance policy on the tenant's belongings. Most policies I have seen (and had) are only in the neighborhood of $100/per annum - sadly those who need it typically are unaware of the need and/or relatively inexpensive cost of this type of policy. Landlords ought to do more than simply acknowledge the tenant's need for renters' insurance in the fine print.


Jennifer said...

The cost is certainly worth the benefit with renter's insurance.

Waldo Jaquith said...

Jim beat me to it, but it bears repeating: it's really, really cheap. It never fails to shock me how cheap that it is, even with great coverage from A+ rated carriers.