1. The named insured does matter and whoever is named first on your policy will control all transactions with the Insurance Company and will get the claims checks.  If you have a roommate or other person living with you other than a legal spouse and children they are not covered on your policy because they split the Apartment costs with you.  If they are not specifically named on the policy, they are NOT covered.
  2. While we are on the topic of roommates or mates in general you need to know that Insurance Companies try very hard to not get involved in messy breakups and fights.  If that significant other has a tantrum and smashes every picture of you in the house by throwing it into the big screen TV, or moves out and takes half the furniture which belongs to you that is not a theft –they are in your home with your permission.  Theft or burglary implies signs of forcible entry as in a “break in”; not someone to whom you gave the keys.
  3. The contract is a limited contract, it does not cover everything or it would say “everything is covered” on one page.  Yes, you really want to read this contract.
  4. “Named Perils policies” or “Direct Physical Loss” policies are very specific in the intent of coverage.  Every policy contains Named Insured declarations pages, Coverage description, limitations of coverage statements and exclusions.  If you do not discuss coverage issues with your Agent he doesn’t know that you have one of the world’s great baseball card collections and cannot tell you that loss by theft of your $100,000 collection will only get paid $500 unless you have this scheduled specifically on you policy. You also need to buy enough coverage.
  5. Antiques, collectibles, furs, jewelry, fine arts, silverware, gold bullion, cash and similar articles are very limited on the basic policy form and if you have significant values of this you need property floaters to be added to your coverage.
  6. If you start to run an Online Business from your apartment, it is not automatically covered under your renter’s policy liability.  While some companies will issue a home business endorsement for you, many will not and this is something very material that should be reviewed with us before you “just do it”.  Also, the home business endorsement does not provide commercial trade risk or intellectual property or trademark infringement coverages.  If you are setting up websites from home it really is not “ok” to just borrow stuff after a web crawl; lawyers have a very, very good time spanking people who think “everything is free”.  Hint –it’s not.
  7. Flood is not water damage.  Flood is water breaking its natural boundaries and whether catastrophe driven (Hurricane, Earthquake, and Tsunami) or wind driven, a true flood is only covered by the National Flood Insurance Program –the one you see advertised on TV.  Personal Renters policies do not cover flood.  Your Renters’ policy does cover water damage which is sudden and accidental.  For example, a pipe bursts in the wall and water is spraying all over your clothes and your laptop –this is covered.  Water damage does not typically cover water which gets into the building because a window was left open or the roof has been and is leaking.  Water damage protection would cover you if the window was “blown out” by heavy winds in a thunderstorm or a large branch fell on the roof during a storm and punctured it.  Remember the “sudden and accidental” phrase and you can see where they are going.  However, if you have a leaking roof or similar not all is lost.  There is a very good chance that your Landlord will be held responsible for your damages.
  8. Most of our clients claim too little when they have a major loss such as an apartment fire.  It is really hard when you are in the middle of a disaster to remember everything you had.  Once you sign the proof of loss form on your claim with an agreed amount you cannot go back to the well later.  So, be prepared.  Use your camcorder or smart phone to shoot video of the entire place.  Open drawers, take things in and out, shoot the closets and the shoe rack, open the kitchen cabinets…you get the picture.  We will be happy to store photos or CD’s/ DVDs in your file in our office for you.
  9. Don’t forget to increase your liability coverage to at least $300,000 and preferably $500,000.  Typically this costs less than $35 annually.  You should as well make sure that when you get your Renters policy that you also get an Umbrella Liability quote for 1, 2 and 3 million dollars.  It is most likely the most valuable, least expensive insurance you can have with your home and auto policies.
  10. We have never, ever had a claim where our client called us up and complained that we had sold him too much insurance.  When you have a big claim it is because the world has just fallen on you.  Be realistic in setting the amount of coverage you purchase.  Buying a $25,000 policy when you have a $100,000 of property is going to come back to haunt you.  Make sure that you have replacement cost coverage, schedules if needed and a deductible you can live with.  Protecting yourself is surprisingly affordable when done correctly.

As always, we are happy to assist our clients and friends.  If you have any questions on this issue we would be glad to hear from you and we will respond to any issues you would like to review.

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