Half of apartment fire victims had no renters insurance

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Donations of clothing, toiletries and baby items from the community are meant to make life easier for the 20 families whose apartments were destroyed. The Arbor View Apartments management said about half of those who lost their homes did not have renters insurance.

Arbor View officials said they always recommend buying renters insurance to everyone who signs a lease, but renters who don't want to buy it must sign a loss damage waiver and pay $10 a month. All that money goes into a pool the apartment complex uses to cover damages caused by tenants, so renters aren't held liable. However, officials said the loss damage waiver doesn't cover damage belongings. For that people need renters insurance.

On Thursday, investigators continued to sift through the ash and rubble to try to figure why almost two dozen families lost their apartments and all that was inside to a fire. Insurance agents say many renters have the wrong idea about what their landlord's insurance policy will cover.

"If you sit down and you start adding up everything that's in there it could be $50,000 to $100,000 worth of content of belongings," said Angelyn Treutel Zeringue. "Furniture and nice TVs, computers and all of that is not protected by the owner of the building. That needs to be protected by you yourself."

From fires to floods to theft, agents said renters insurance, which averages between $30 to $50 a month, is a bargain compared to paying out of pocket to replace your belongings. The coverage also comes in handy should the tenant accidentally damages someone else's property.

"The liability coverage is tremendously important because what if something happens in your unit that causes damage to another unit. A fire. We've just seen a terrible fire go through," said Zeringue. "Another example that we've seen is someone left a tub overflowing and it caused the downstairs to be flooded. So the legal liability went back to the tenant in the upper apartment and their renters program was called on to pay for the damage to the other party's apartment."

Zeringue said when looking for renters insurance people should shop around for the best deal that meets their individual needs, but there is one thing she says should be in every policy.

"You definitely want a replacement cost policy," said Zeringue. "Because if something happens and you want to get a replacement for a computer or a replacement for your TV, you don't want a depreciated amount when something is going to cost you a lot more to replace."

"You can use your smart phone and make a video tour of your apartment with all of your contents. Just kind of visually add up what you think it could be so you can be sure you have an appropriate level of coverage."

Arbor View officials said the loss damage waiver their tenants sign is comparable to what people agree to when they rent a car and do not have insurance.

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