Fire Victims Without Renter's Insurance

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

Two apartment complex fires last weekend left more than 50 residents displaced from their homes. Unfortunately, many did not have renter's insurance.

A fire at 33rd and Webster put 25 people out last Friday and 34 people were displaced in Bellevue by a blaze early Saturday morning.

At the Bellevue Britain Towne Apartments, 12 families lost their home, and only four had renter's insurance. Nationwide, an average of three out of every 10 renters have insurance.

"Fire generally takes everything that you own and it's all gone and if it's uninsured, maybe it wasn't new, but it's all that you had," says State Farm agent Steve Skidmore.

He says so many choose not to be insured, either because they believe the complex will take care of them or they feel overwhelmed by the options.

"Some feel it's cost prohibitive when in reality it's not. It's easy to do, you just need to ascertain the approximate value of your property. Average renters policy is less than $10 a month."

Files Viveros lives at the Britain Towne Apartments in the building next to the unit that burned. He does not have renter's insurance, but was surprised to hear how cheap it can be.

"That's a pretty good, pretty good price and if it is that much I'll just get it, I'll just sign up for insurance because we never know."

He says he now realizes he is only as safe as his neighbors. "My wife, we are responsible to anything in the kitchen, whatever, we don't smoke and we don't know anything about the other neighbors' homes."

Skidmore says living in a multi-family dwelling means putting your belongings in the care of others. "It's a situation that's not within your control if you're in a single-family dwelling and you have a fire loss, generally it's your fault, but in a lot of multi-family dwellings it's not your fault and you can still have just as catastrophic of a loss."

Clothing and food donations are coming in for the victims of the weekend fire. The cause is still under investigation.

Insurance agencies say it's important for everyone, including those who live in homes, to have a detailed inventory of belongings, that way if there ever is a disaster, you can be reimbursed.

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