WHITEBOARD WEDNESDAY (June 28, 2017): Did you know that for as little as $10/month renters can protect their belongings and avoid legal exposure from claims inside and outside the home? In this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday, Matt addresses the benefits of renters insurance…
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Hi, Matt Quinlan here. Welcome to this week’s edition of #WhiteboardWednesday , where we tackle real-life issues that are our clients face and answer questions that we get from people that call our office. This week we’re gonna be talking about renter’s insurance and if you need it.
The short answer is YES! You need renter’s insurance if you rent in San Francisco or anywhere in the Bay Area. And this particular Whiteboard Wednesday is being created more of kind of a public service announcement for all the renters out there that had to consider a renter’s insurance that might not know the benefits of renter’s insurance and have no idea of what it costs. So, in an effort to inform and educate, we created this edition of Whiteboard Wednesday discussing the particular issue of renter’s insurance. Now, let’s talk about the benefits of renter’s insurance and the things that will cover…you’ll get covered for rather once you purchase it.
Personal Liability is Covered by Renter’s Insurance
Personal liability. I’m a personal injury lawyer, so this is the world that I deal in a lot. Obviously, if someone causes injuries to another person through their own negligence, they’re responsible for it. And personal injury claims are brought, insurance claims are brought. And they’re brought directly because of this negligence. And personal liability coverage that particular type of insurance is what steps in and protects you and shields you from any sort of legal obligation you have to pay someone for damages that you cause.
So, personal liability is a big part of the renter’s insurance. It covers you for both personal injuries that you caused and property damage that you caused to other people. We recommend that you get at least $100,000 in personal liability coverage and that will cover you for all kinds of things. Damages and injuries inside your home and outside your home. Let’s say that you have a no shoe policy at your house and everybody takes their shoes off at the top of the stairs and there’s a big pile of shoes there. Someone comes over, they trip over this hazard, and falls down the stairs, breaks their arm, breaks their leg, has some sort of major injury.
Now, they’re gonna be looking to recover their medical bills. Maybe they’re gonna have lost wages. Obviously, they’re gonna have a lot of pain and suffering. And it might not be enough to say, “Hey friend, you know, I’m so sorry about what happened to you. Let’s just look the other way because we’ve been friends for a long time,” right? Like I get that people kind of feel that way but at the end of the day, it’s like you should be accountable for harm that you cause to other people. And this would give you a lot of peace of mind if something like that were to happen in your home.
It’ll also cover you outside your home. Let’s say you’re walking to the bus stop, right? In the morning on your way to work, you’re reading your emails, your texting somebody, you’re into your social media. And you bump into somebody that’s drinking coffee and you spill it all down, right? And they get burned and they’re gonna have a personal injury claim against you and your renter’s insurance will cover you for it because you were negligent because you weren’t looking where you were going and you bumped into somebody.
So renter’s insurance can give you a lot of protection for any injury claims that are brought against you. And obviously, that’s gonna be important because if you’re a successful person and you have a nice job and you’re making good money and you’re paying $2000. $3000, $4000 in rent, let’s just say, and somebody comes into my office talking to me about what you have done to cause harm to them and I learn that you’re a successful person, you’re making some good money, you have an expensive place where you live and you don’t have renter’s insurance, you know, I’m not going to be as sympathetic and my clients not going to be as sympathetic about looking the other way when it comes to damages. So if you have something to protect, if things are going okay for you, get renter’s insurance. It’s really affordable and we’re gonna get to that here in a bit.
It’ll also cover you for property damage. You know, if you left your stove on and a fire breaks out and your neighbor’s house burns, it’ll cover you for that. If you leave your sink on and your kitchen floods and the downstairs neighbor’s apartment is water damaged, it’ll cover you for that. So these are things that you get from your renter’s policy that are really important and give you great peace of mind.
Fire Damage is Covered by Renter’s Insurance
Fire. Fire happens. We represent fire claimants, claims against their own insurance companies. They’re devastating, you know, fires are. And all your stuff’s gone, all your stuff’s ruined, you have to start all the way over. And if you don’t have an insurance policy in place that will pay to replace all those things, you’re kind of left back at the beginning. You got no stuff, you might have no money to be able to afford to get new stuff. What are you gonna do?
So fire is something that you need to consider, it’s something that renter’s insurance will cover you for. It will also cover any displacement. If you have to stay in a hotel for a week or so after the fire, it’ll cover you. If you have to rent somewhere else for a month or two while they repair the home or rebuild the parts that were burnt, they’ll cover that for you. So, I mean, a fire is something you should consider and it’s also a great benefit for renter’s insurance.
Damage or Injuries by Your Dog is Covered by Renter’s Insurance
It’ll cover you for your dog. San Francisco’s a very dog-friendly place. I have a dog. Shout out to Einstein, my boy. And if your dog bites somebody, then you’re responsible for it. It’s strict liability here in California. It doesn’t matter if your dog never bit anyone before, it doesn’t matter if you had your dog on a leash. None of that matters. If your dog injured somebody, you’re gonna be responsible and people can sue you. I see a lot of these, I handle a lot of dog bite cases myself. And I’m gonna expect for you to have insurance when my client hires me as a result of a dog bite.
Stolen Items Are Covered by Renter’s Insurance
Theft. If somebody steals your belongings in your car–this happened to me, I don’t know, a month ago–someone breaks into my car and they steal what they can see. My auto insurance pays for the glass damage. They repair the window, great. But what I really cared about is what was stolen inside the car. And so, your car insurance will not cover your items that are stolen. If somebody’s gonna steal your laptop or your camera or your phone or your bag, your backpack, whatever’s in there, then you’re gonna need your renter’s insurance to cover the loss of those particular items because your car insurance won’t. People don’t know that.
Another benefit for renter’s insurance. In a gym locker…let’s say you’re at the gym and you’re working out and somebody in the locker room breaks into all the lockers and steals it. This also happened to me a few years ago. The only place you can turn for these lost articles, your personal stuff, is your renter’s insurance. Now, of course, there’s going to be a deductible. Maybe $500 or $1000 depending on what kind of policy you get. But, I mean, still, to be able to recover for your lost items is important. It gives you great peace of mind.
The Cost of Renter’s Insurance
Okay, the cost. So obviously, that’s the important question here is how much does this stuff cost and you’re gonna be shocked to learn how cheap it is. $10-$25 a month. I mean, that’s really almost nothing. I mean, how quickly can you spend $10 in a month and you could have all this coverage. For $10 or so a month, you can have $100,000 in coverage, like we talked about here with personal liability. You’re covered on the fire stuff, you’re covered for any damages your dog does up to $100,000 anyway, your personal items are gonna be covered to the tune of $25,000. So that’ll cover all of this. All for $10 a month.
So it’s really quite affordable for everybody and then it slides up. You can spend as much as $25 a month and that really is a function of how much coverage you want based on how much stuff you have and how expensive it is. So you have to look around your home try to figure out how much would all this cost to replace and if it’s $100,000 let’s say then your monthly rate’s gonna be a little more expensive than somebody that’s trying to cover $25,000.
Things Not Covered by Renter’s Insurance
What is excluded? So, it doesn’t cover flood, all right? And it doesn’t cover earthquake, obviously that’s important in San Francisco. If you’re one of the people that’s waiting for the next big quake, It won’t cover you there. You’re gonna need to get your own earthquake coverage. And it won’t cover your roommates. So, if you have renter’s insurance and you have friend roommates then they’re not gonna be covered by your policy. The only way your roommates covered is if they’re related to you or if you’re married to them.
And then lastly, expensive jewelry. If you have a nice diamond ring, if you have a really expensive watch, it won’t cover you. It’ll cover you up to a certain point, it’s usually about $2,500 and then it’ll stop. So don’t just assume that because maybe you have $50,000 in personal articles coverage, that if your nice watch or your ring or your diamond earrings or something like that gets stolen they’ll be covered because they won’t be. They’ll be limited too. So you’re going to need to get your own policy on those as well.
But, you know, sure there’s a few limitations here and there but for the most part, it gives you a lot of coverage for a very affordable price. And there’s really no good reason why anybody renting in San Francisco, no matter what you’re paying for rent, can’t afford to stack $10 or $25 a month on top of your rent to cover you for stuff like this.
So I mean, you know, based on where we live it makes perfect sense. If you’re a renter and if you don’t have renter’s insurance, look into it. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about renter’s insurance, anything I’ve talked about here today or any other personal injuries for that matter. I appreciate you watching Whiteboard Wednesday this week. I hope you learned something and I’ll see you again next week.