26 Aug Tenant insurance protects renters against the unexpected
Tenant insurance not only protects a person’s contents, but it can be invaluable if someone visiting the unit is injured, says Barrie civil litigator Scott Hawryliw.
“Drawing from my clients’ experience, the big benefit of this type of coverage is protection from liability, in case someone slips on an area rug in your apartment, is bitten by your dog or suffers some other type of injury,” says Hawryliw, founder of SRH Litigation.
Liability protection can be particularly important for people living in multi-unit buildings, who may unintentionally leave the water running, flooding the unit below, or if a faulty appliance starts a fire, causing property damage to adjoining apartments, he says.
“Tenant insurance will respond to such claims and protect the person from punishing lawsuits,” Hawryliw tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Landlords will have their own property insurance on the entire building, he says, protecting them from costs associated with fire, property damage, and liability.
“Their insurance, however, will not cover your possessions as a tenant,” says Hawryliw. “That is why tenant insurance is such a good idea, as it covers the person’s possessions and furnishings, as well as providing liability insurance, similar to home insurance.”
If something happens in a rental unit that damages other apartments or the building enclosing them, he says landlords have two main avenues to recoup their losses.
“They might decide to go through their own insurance to cover the costs of repairing the building, or the landlord may instead sue the renter for damage to the building,” Hawryliw says.
He says there is case law suggesting landlords are not required to go through their own insurance first, noting he has personally dealt with cases like that.
“If you have tenant insurance and a fire starts in your unit, you could protect yourself from being sued by the landlord,” Hawryliw says.
Renters being sued by a landlord for any damages should quickly report the claim to their insurance company, which will handle the matter from there, he says.
“It’s intended to be pretty seamless,” says Hawryliw.
Tenant insurance covers displacement costs for those forced to move out of their units for reasons such as fire or water damage originating outside the unit, he says, explaining it can help pay for temporary accommodations, restaurant meals, and moving costs.
Hawryliw says another advantage of this type of coverage is that it is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to house insurance.
He advises policyholders to draw up a complete inventory of their possessions in the unit — especially valuables such as high-end musical instruments, antiques or jewelry — in case they have to file a claim later.
“You have to detail what you owned in the unit in terms of furniture and valuables,” Hawryliw says.