Monday, July 16, 2012

Lack of Renter’s Insurance Makes the Pain Worse for Victims of Apartment House Fire

Personal property losses felt by displaced Ames residents

(DES MOINES) July 16, 2012 – An apartment house fire in Ames Saturday has a hundred people out of their apartments. Reportedly, the building and its contents were destroyed in last weekend’s blaze. The landlord lost a building, but many of the residents lost everything they owned. News reports yesterday said that, for the most part, no one had renter’s insurance. That means that no insurance company will be sending a check to replace lost furniture, televisions, computers, jewelry and clothing, along with all the other personal items in the lives of the residents. The prior purchase of a relatively inexpensive insurance policy could have changed all that.

What is Renter’s Insurance?

Renter’s Insurance is similar to homeowners insurance, except there is no building coverage under a renter’s policy.  The protection of the building is available for the landlord’s purchase, but the contents of the apartments in that building are not protected on the landlord’s policy. That’s where apartment dwellers can protect their personal belongings with their own policies. Licensed insurance agents in Iowa can assist renters in getting this protection.  Often for renters protection for their dwelling can be purchased through the same company that covers their car.

Why is it Important to Purchase Renter’s Insurance?

The cost of replacing all of the belongings in an apartment mounts up quicker than you may realize. Renter’s Insurance will make that as painless as possible, if you have properly estimated the total value that needs protection.

When determining coverage needs, it is important to know all the “stuff” in your home that warrants special protection. Insurable items do not only include luxury items like jewelry and art, but also fun purchases that support personal passions.

Whether it is gourmet cooking gadgets, designer handbags or high-end electronics, what Americans invest in personal passions can have a profound impact on insurance needs. In fact, according to a recent survey, those passions may add up to a lot more than you think: 

  • Fashionistas spend more than $1,400 annually on shoes, apparel and accessories.
  • Techies spend approximately $1,300 a year on computers, video games and televisions.
  • Foodies invest an average of $2,400 annually on high-end appliances and fine dining.

One of the best ways to make sure possessions are fully protected is to document them with a home inventory. Now, creating a home inventory is easier than ever thanks to myHOME, a new iPhone® application from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The freemyHOME app lets users quickly photograph and capture images, descriptions, bar codes and serial numbers, and then stores them electronically for safekeeping. The app organizes information room by room, and even creates a back-up file for e-mail sharing. 

“A home inventory assures you know exactly what you own, and what it’s worth, before you need to make a claim,” says Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan E. Voss. “Our research, however, suggests almost half of all Americans don’t have an inventory of their possessions. The iPhone® app makes it easy to document your personal property. Knowing what you own will help you choose the right coverage.”

Taking Inventory of Your Home’s Contents
Documenting possessions with a home inventory is the most important step homeowners and renters can take to make sure they have enough coverage to fully protect and replace their valuables if something happens.

10 Steps to Complete a Home Inventory

  1. Make a list of possessions, including ‘celebration’ purchases such as jewelry and fine art.
  2. Think about family heirlooms, collections and furniture. Also consider items related to everyday leisure time, from flat-screen televisions to custom guitars.
  3. Take note of commonplace items such as toys, CDs and clothing. And do not forget items you may only use occasionally such as holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools and high-ticket items kept outside your home such as landscape art and swing sets.
  4. Attach copies of original sales receipts and/or appraisal documents to your inventory. Be sure to note model and serial numbers.
  5. Group your possessions into logical categories, i.e., by hobby, by room in your home.
  6. Carefully photograph or videotape each item and document a brief description including age, purchase price and estimated current value.
  7. Remember to open drawers and closets to document what’s inside.
  8. Store your home inventory and related documents in a safe, easily accessible place such as a secured site/file online, a fire-proof box or in a safe deposit box. You may want to share a copy with your insurance provider so he or she can make necessary updates to your coverage.
  9. Review and update your inventory annually and whenever you make a significant purchase.
  10. To get started, download the free myHOME app for iPhone® users by visiting the iTunes® App Store or searching ‘NAIC’ in the app store from your phone. Or go to to download and print a simple home inventory checklist.

About the Iowa Insurance Division

The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the IID toll free at 877-955-1212 or visit the division on the web at