With Renters Insurance, Benefits Outweigh Costs: Officials

Renters lost more than $13 million worth of belongings to fires in the last three years because they did not have renter's insurance, according to the Hartford Fire Department.

Raul Irizarry is one of hundreds of displaced tenants in Hartford. When he lost his home and approximately $25,000 worth of personal items in a structure fire last month, he immediately knew he did too little too late.

“The day before, I was switching car insurances,” Irizarry said. “So I thought, let me just fill out a renter's insurance quote at the same time.”

He figured he’d sleep on it, unable to predict how much he’d regret that decision as soon as he woke up.

“(The) day after, the fire happens at 8 in the morning,” Irizarry said.

Only 22 renters of 320 Hartford structure fires had insurance last year, Hartford Fire Chief Reggie Freeman said. Nationwide, only 43 percent of renters are insured.

“I think in the majority of instances, (Hartford residents) just don’t know that having renter's insurance is an option,” said Chief Freeman.

One of the biggest misconceptions, Chief Freeman said, is people tend to think they are covered if their landlord has insurance. However, a landlord’s insurance only covers the structure itself. All the belongings inside the home would only be covered under renters insurance.

It includes three basic types of protection: personal belongings, additional living expenses and liability in case the renters or pets are at fault. The price varies by policy. The average renters insurance costs between $15 and $30 per month, so $180 a year could protect the value of most everything in a home.

“Renter's insurance is one of the best values for your dollar you can get,” Gerard O’Sullivan, director of consumer affairs for the State Department of Insurance, said. “No one ever thinks that they’re going to have a fire or a theft or anything, but when those things do happen, think about how much you will be out to replace everything.”

Going forward, Irizarry knows he won’t have to learn that lesson twice.

"I’m actually in the middle of creating a quote because I’m most likely going to buy a car today," Irizarry said. "And there will definitely be renter's insurance attached to that quote."

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