Can Renters Get Insurance Protection Against Natural Disasters?

How do renters protect themselves from natural disasters? Joyce Jones was living in New Orleans in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. She evacuated before the levees broke, but her rentalapartment was all but in shambles when she returned to it three weeks later.

"I didn't have any coverage so I just lost everything," she says. "But I really wasn't thinking something like this could happen!"

If we all spent our time imagining every conceivable worst-case scenario most of us would find ourselves crawling under the covers for the foreseeable future. Luckily worst-case scenarios are not the norm. But that doesn't mean they can't happen. And after watching the devastation in Japan, everyone wants to be prepared.
Homeowners have good reason to protect themselves from the threat of natural disasters: They are protecting a financial investment, and in some cases – if they rent to tenants – a vital source of income. But what about the tenants themselves? Does it make sense for a renter to pay for protection in the unlikely event of a natural disaster? And if so, how would they go about doing it when most standard renters insurance agreements do not cover them?

Additional Coverage

It is true. If you only pay for standard coverage on your renters insurance, chances are you are not covered in the event that an "act of God" wreaks havoc on your home. In other words, if a flood, an earthquake or a tornado arrives at your door, any damage will be covered by a solid Zen outlook and little else. (However, some policies will provide you will money for living expenses.)

The costs for procuring additional coverage against natural disasters vary depending on where you live. If you try to get hurricane insurance in Memphis, for example, chances are you will get it at a pretty good rate. However, in Jacksonville, Florida, you will have to pay substantially more. Landlords in certain parts of the country already require that their tenants pay for additional renters insurance that covers natural disasters.

Why You Should Be Covered

The nice thing about the structure of most renters insurance policies is that you can mix and match when it comes to the type of natural disaster for which you'd like to be covered. If you live in a part of the world that is at a particularly high risk for a specific type of natural disaster it might not be a bad idea to include this in your renter's insurance agreement.

Consider in particular if you use your home for work or to house items for work that have considerable value or serve as an investment for you. If you have a lot of valuable equipment in the form of computers, musical instruments or if you run a mail order service and make, for example, hand bags out of your home that collectively create a livelihood for you-In any of these cases, it is probably in your best interest to protect yourself against natural disaster.

Why You Shouldn't Necessarily Be Covered

On the other hand, it is not worth it to everyone to incur the additional costs to get protection against natural disasters. Think about it economically-no matter how alarmist your local news channel is, very few people, even in Kansas, are likely to get swept away in a tornado.

If you live in a flood plain or on top of a live volcano, then yes, by all means, if someone will insure you, buy insurance. Otherwise, consider the worth of all the items you own and then calculate how much of an annual loss you will incur by paying extra for additional renter's insurance coverage. It is likely that over time, it will not be worth it.

Whether or not to have extra coverage in the event of a natural disaster is an important consideration when you are deciding if you want to spend more money than what it costs for traditional renters insurance.

"I don't regret not having had coverage," says Joyce Jones. "I learned some pretty major life's lessons from [Katrina] that I wouldn't trade for anything. Even my old stuff."

Want to know how to deal with other rental issues? Here are some AOL Real Estateguides that can help:
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