Survey Says Two-Thirds of U.S. Renters Live Without Insurance

September 8, 2003

A new independent consumer survey conducted for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) has reportedly found that nearly two-thirds of those living in U.S. rental properties are currently risking severe financial loss by going without renters insurance.

The national consumer telephone survey of 1,000 people was conducted by International Communications Research (ICR)—an independent survey firm based in Media, Pa. When survey participants living in rental properties were asked whether they had renters insurance, 64.4 percent said no and 2.2 percent answered “Don’t Know.”

“IIABA and its Trusted ChoiceSM agencies are surprised by the survey result because our society pays such careful attention to securing auto insurance for our vehicles, yet we have millions of renters neglecting the need to insure the rest of their possessions,” said IIABA CEO Robert Rusbuldt.

“Consider the value of your furniture, television, stereo, computer, jewelry, clothes, and other items. They likely add up to more in value than your automobile,” continued Rusbuldt. “And without renters insurance, what liability coverage do you have in the event someone is injured in your rental unit and sues you for damages?”

More than 81 million Americans rent homes in the United States. A frequent reason many renters reportedly give for not purchasing renters insurance is the expense. However, renters insurance policies cost as little as $10 per month. The average cost of renters insurance is $12 per month for about $30,000 of property coverage and $100,000 of liability coverage.

“The risks for our personal possessions are many: theft, vandalism, fire or lightning, hurricane or tornado, explosions, damage from smoke, damage by broken glass, water-related damage from home utilities … and the list goes on,” said Rusbuldt.

Reportedly, the most common misconception among renters is that they are covered under their landlord’s insurance in the event of fire or theft. Not so, according to Doug Culkin, executive vice president of the National Apartment Association.

“The landlord’s insurance covers the building and the infrastructure of that building, whether it is the elevators, the air conditioning, or the structure itself,” said Culkin. “That coverage does not extend into the homes of the individual residents and the possessions they maintain in their units.”

The survey results suggest that many families with college students could unknowingly put themselves at risk when they send their kids off to school this fall.

While homeowners’ coverage extends to students who live in campus dormitories, there is a gray area for students living in off-campus housing.

Students renting off-campus units need to check with their insurance agent to make sure their parents’ homeowners’ coverage extends to their possessions. If not, they would reportedly need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy.

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Insurance Journal West September 8, 2003
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