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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Do you have Rental Insurance to cover your contents?

7/9/2018 (Permalink)

Are your contents covered for fire damage?

House fires are the biggest challenge we face in restoration cleaning. We have to clean the soot, we have to dry any water damage associated with putting the fire out, we have to assess what can be restored, and we have to help occupants come to terms with their losses.

Despite our training and experience, we never find it easy to deliver bad news, and we hate having to tell tenants that none of their contents are covered under the landlord’s insurance policy. The common misconception that a landlord’s insurance policy will cover a tenant’s contents.  Which in turn costs tenants thousands of dollars a year in lost contents and cleaning bills. In some cases, a fire will cost a tenant everything he owns.

Affordable Renter’s Insurance

It does not have to be that way. Renter’s insurance is reasonably priced given the peace of mind it brings. Tenants who own cars can often get a discount when bundling renter’s insurance. Depending on the policy, tenants may even get additional protections for theft outside the home or liability coverage. 

Landlord’s Insurance

Insurance for landlords differs from regular homeowner’s insurance because it only covers the structure. When we are called to a job with tenants, we are not allowed to touch contents until we have verified renter’s insurance or confirmed the tenant will pay for our services on their contents. If there is no contents’ coverage and no commitment to pay, we will clean the walls, ceiling, and floors, but that is about it.

Similar Fires, Different Results

We were recently called to an apartment where a short circuit started an dryer fire that spread soot throughout whole house. The landlord’s insurance covered removing soot from the cabinets and closets along with the walls, ceilings, and floors, but we were not permitted to clean any of the contents in the interior of the cabinets and closets or contents in the home because the tenant had no renter’s insurance.

In contrast, an electric short caused an attic  of a home which affected all rooms on both floors and the attic. The tenant in this case had renter’s insurance, so her insurance covered the cleaning of her contents, while the landlord’s insurance covered the invoice for structural restoration.

Losing Everything in a Fire Following the fire, the city’s fire inspector declared the building unsafe for entry. Tenants were locked out and unable to access their contents.

There is a fire and the landlord learns that restoration on a building that old would require permissions from the city’s historical commission, and they decided a rebuild would be cost prohibitive. Rather than hiring a restoration company, they left the condemned building as is and sold off the property. Those tenants who did not have renter’s insurance lost everything that remains locked up in the condemned building and received no compensation.

What Do You Have To Lose?

If you rent but do not have renter’s insurance, consider how much is at stake. Take ten minutes to explore how much a renter’s policy would cost. We never want to stand in front of someone who has lost everything and not be able to help.

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