Omari Hall, Learning Experience Designer at GreenPath Financial Wellness.
Photo provided by GreenPath
Being prepared and ready for any potential home-related disaster doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Starting with attainable goals can help to chip away at what feels like monumental preparation.
The Michigan Department of Insurance & Financial Services (DIFS) is reminding college students and other renters about the importance of purchasing a renter’s insurance policy to protect their belongings in the event of storm damage, fire or theft.
“Renters can suffer significant property losses caused by severe storms, fires and other events, so it is important that they have the coverage they need before disaster strikes,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “It is critical that every Michigander, whether they rent or own their home, has the appropriate type of insurance coverage to protect themselves, their families and their belongings.”
Many Michiganders who rent an apartment, house or dorm room might not even realize that their personal belongings are not covered by their landlord’s property insurance.
Typically, the landlord’s policy only covers structural damage to the landlord’s property and does not extend to the renter’s personal belongings. This means that if a fire, severe storm or theft occurs and a renter’s personal belongings are damaged or stolen, the renter is personally responsible for replacing or repairing their items unless they purchased a renter’s insurance policy before the damage occurred.
Omari Hall, learning experience designer, GreenPath Financial Wellness, said that even homeowners should be prepared, naturally, in efforts to keep their homes safe from weather-related events that are caused by simple things like freezing precipitation that could impact water pipes and more.
“Having funds saved that can cover three to six months of expenses can help you and your family stay afloat and ease some stress,” Hall said adding that it’s time for people to take inventory of critical documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, bank account, and credit card information, wills, mortgage/lease information, insurance policies and more. “Take digital scans of documents or use your smartphone to take photos. Narrate the video and take note of serial numbers, access, etc. Securely store them online.”
Hall added that it’s also important to be leery of people who want to lend a helping hand during times of need.
“Watch out for repair scams and fraud,” he said adding that GreenPath, a trusted nonprofit resource, also can help with certified counselors assessing individual households’ situations, understanding what they need as you manage through the emergency and more. “No matter the situation, we look at the person’s entire financial picture and help create an action plan to work through them.”
Individuals concerned about their financial recovery from a weather event should contact GreenPath at 866-648-8122 or visit www.greenpath.org.
DIFS said that renter’s insurance could help take the guesswork out of what’s next when it comes to providing coverage for a person’s belongings if they are damaged by events such as a tornado or a fire. In addition, renter’s insurance will help covered individuals find alternative living accommodations if their rented apartment or home is damaged in a storm, fire or other covered peril.
“Renter’s policies are usually inexpensive, but they provide important coverage and peace of mind that you and your belongings are protected,” said Fox. “If you purchase a renter’s policy from the same company that writes your auto or other type of insurance policy, you may be entitled to a multi-policy discount. This Preparedness Month, we encourage all renters in Michigan to work with a licensed insurance agent or company to investigate their coverage options.”
For questions about renter’s insurance or other types of insurance, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or call 877-999-6442 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Consumers may file a complaint online by visiting Michigan.gov/Disciplines.