Consumer alert from Minnesota Department of commerce

Understand what renters insurance does and does not cover

This winter season, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging renters to understand what renters insurance does and does not cover in the event of a winter home disaster.

Imagine that, while you are on vacation, you get a call from your landlord, alerting you that your pipes had frozen and burst, causing flooding in your living areas. You have renters insurance, so you should be covered, correct? Maybe not.

That is precisely what happened to A. Logan, who at the time, was a resident of Chaska, MN.

“Being new to Minnesota after being a resident of California for 15 years, I wasn’t aware of how harsh the winters could really be. A cold snap moved in while I was on vacation, which caused my pipes to freeze and burst, which flooded my unit,” said Logan. “I thought my renters insurance would cover the damage, but in fact, the insurance only covered my personal property. I was on the hook to pay for the rest.”

“It is always a good idea to take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings, and renters insurance is often an affordable option for renters to protect personal belongings in the event they are damaged, destroyed or stolen,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. “But Minnesotans should educate themselves on what renters insurance will and will not cover in the event of a disaster.”

What you should know about renters insurance

If you live in a rented apartment or house, your landlord’s insurance will protect the building, but not your personal belongings. For example, if your rented property’s flooring is damaged due to a natural disaster like flooding, your landlord is responsible for tending to damage to the structure of the building, but is not responsible for the destruction of your personal belongings caused by flooding.

• Most renters insurance
policies provide two basic
types of coverage: personal
property and liability.
• Personal property coverage pays to repair or replace
personal belongings if they

are damaged, destroyed
or stolen. This is the most
commonly purchased renters
insurance coverage.
• Liability insurance
provides coverage against
a medical claim or lawsuit
resulting from an incident
on your rental unit. This protection kicks in, for example,
if someone slips and gets
hurt while at a party at your
• The premiums for renters
insurance average between
$15 and $30 per month depending on the location and
size of your rental unit and
the value of your possessions.

Know what you own

It is also important to have a current an inventory of your personal possessions and their value, in case you do have to file a claim.

This can be as simple as taking photos or video, or making a list of possessions. It helps to include each item’s manufacturer, model or serial number, date of purchase and price. Make sure you keep the inventory list in a safe place. If you choose to file a claim, the more information you have about your possessions the better.

Know what renters insurance does not cover

While purchasing renters insurance helps protect your personal property, Minnesotans should note that it does not cover your belongings under certain circumstances such as natural disasters, property damage caused by pests, items of high value and other exceptions.

For example, renters insurance will generally not cover your neighbors’ property or belongings should they become damaged due to your own negligence, such as a flood caused by an overflowing toilet or a running faucet. Nor will it generally cover common areas (like party rooms, hallways, etc.) that may become damaged due to your own negligence.

It is recommended that Minnesotans connect with their insurance agent to determine exactly what will be protected under certain renters insurance policies.

The Minnesota Commerce Department oversees more

than 20 regulated industries, ensuring that Minnesota businesses are strong and Minnesota consumers are protected. Their mission is to protect the public interest, advocate for Minnesota consumers, ensure a strong, competitive and fair marketplace, strengthen the state’s economic future and serve as a trusted public resource for consumers and businesses.

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