Burned Twice? Ways To Extinguish Denied Rental Fire Insurance Claims

firehouse

People who rent a house, apartment, or other type of dwelling sometimes make the mistake of believing that they do not deserve the same financial protection as homeowners. Renting a home or an apartment doesn’t mean that your belongings will be a lost cause in case of a fire, theft or flood damage. However, you can protect your belongings just the same as families who own homes, by investing in renters insurance.

Renters insurance is designed to safeguard many types of belongings inside a rented home, including electronics, clothing, and jewelry, from unforeseen disasters like flooding, lightening, fires, and theft. Even with this protection, however, some renters may still be left fighting for their financial futures when their claims are denied by their insurers. Rather than submit yourself to such monetary losses, you can fight a denial by knowing your renters insurance rights and by taking these proactive actions.

Make A List of Your Belongings

Insurers may deny you by simply saying that the items for which you filed the claim were never protected in the first place. After you buy a policy, it is vital that you make a thorough list of these items, take pictures and write down their full descriptions, as well as serial numbers for future reference. You should give a copy of the list to your insurance agent and then store your copy in a safe place, such as in a safe deposit box at your bank, in one of your email folders, in a cloud storage account, or at the house of a trusted friend or relative. If you need to file a claim at some point in the future, you can reduce the likelihood of being denied by using this list to prove what items you had insured.

Document Valuable Items

Your insurer might deny you as well by saying that your assets were not that significantly damaged or valued at less than your appraisal. Rather than settle for less money than you are entitled to, you should take pictures or videos to document the full extent of the damage to solidify your claim or submit your copy of an appraisal report if you have this proof on hand. With substantiated documentation, your insurer may be less likely to deny you and instead give you the financial help you need to rebuild your life.

Get Legal Help

Many people forget that they can hire an attorney to help them fight a denial. When your insurer refuses to back down, you should  consult with a legal professional to guide and advocate for you. Once you have an lawyer by your side, your insurance company may be more willing to compromise. Most insurers do not like going to court and would rather settle if possible. With a lawyer to fight for your rights, you can close your case sooner and get back to living your life with the insurance money you need to replace your valuables.

Do You Know Your State Laws?

With an attorney to counsel you, you can know your rights as they pertain to your state. For instance, the tenant and landlord laws in Pennsylvania may be totally different than say, Washington state. Being a renter does not mean that you have less legal standing or importance in the eyes of the law.

The law recognizes that you have the same right to housing and assets as anyone else. You also have the right to make a claim against a policy for which you have been paying regularly. Your lawyer can make sure your rights are protected and advocated for throughout the legal process.

Renters insurance can be an invaluable asset when you rent a house or an apartment. However, when your claims are denied, you can get the money you need to move forward and protect your belongings by taking these assertive steps.

Knowing the importance of documentation for insurance policies enables Nadine Swayne to offer these tips. If you unfortunately have a fire in your home, it is vital to have an existing list so you can take stock of your damaged items when filing a claim with your insurer. Whether you rent or buy a home or apartment, know your rights!

Pros and Cons of Renting an Apartment

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While there are those who see renting as simply wasting money, there are certain benefits to renting an apartment versus purchasing a home, condo or townhome. And just as there are advantages, renting does have its disadvantages as well. If you’re looking at renting an apartment, take a look at this list of pros and cons to help you decide whether renting is right for you and your family.

Pros

  1. Amenities and other added features. Many renters of apartments enjoy such options as swimming pools, exercise facilities, tennis courts, game rooms and even movie theaters. If you’re searching for an apartment to rent, make sure to ask about what amenities the apartment complex or community has to offer, and whether usage of these facilities is included in the rent.
  2. Maintenance and repairs. Unlike homeowners, renters have the luxury of having someone else take care of all those pesky little things that can go wrong – from broken appliances, leaky faucets, clogged toilets, and major repairs like cracks in the wall, or a broken water or heat pump, renting means that the landlord has to take care of these repairs and also offer regular maintenance. Larger complexes and apartment communities even offer a special department just for repairs and maintenance. Those who rent apartments also don’t have to worry about snow removal or yard maintenance.
  3. Freedom and mobility. Many people who rent apartments do so because of relocation due to their jobs, to be closer to family (due to caring for a sick parent, etc.), or wanting to live in a better neighborhood than they can afford if they would have to purchase a home. Renting an apartment makes it a lot easier to move than if you owned a house; you would have to wait until the house sold before moving to wherever you need to go. However, with an apartment, you can give appropriate notice to the landlord and then move without too much hassle or long wait time.
  4. Lower initial costs and fees. Compared to the amount of money you have to dish out when you first purchase a home, renting is definitely less expensive in the beginning. Renters usually pay a few hundred dollars for a security deposit, whereas those who are buying a house can pay thousands of dollars upfront in a down payment.
  5. Save money. Especially in a down economy, renters can save money when home values are plummeting. Even though it would make sense to purchase a home when the prices are low, if you wait until the values are getting ready to rise, you can save money in the long run.
  6. Smaller space, less hassle. Many renters seek to rent an apartment due to downgrading from a larger home, and find that a smaller space is easier to maintain. Seniors, empty nesters, singles and college students can all benefit from renting a small- to medium-sized apartment, giving them the advantage of having to take care of less space.
  7. Location. Ultimately, many people who rent apartments do so because it’s located in a particular area or neighborhood where they can’t afford to buy a home (or there just aren’t many homes available for sale). Whether the area is close to a job, a good school, or near family, many people find that renting is just a better option, especially if the housing market or economy is in a downward slump.
  8. Taxes and insurance. Renters don’t have to worry about real estate taxes, and the only insurance they need is renter’s insurance, which is much cheaper than homeowner’s insurance. There are no taxes for renters, but homeowners sometimes have to pay thousands of dollars a year in different taxes (such as property taxes, state and county taxes, school taxes, and local taxes).

Cons

  1. Parking. Many renters have problems with parking, especially if their apartment is located in a busy area of the city. Paying to park is a perpetual expense, and if your landlord has no designated area for parking, then you have to find a spot on your own, often quite a distance away depending on the area and how busy it is. This is a definite con for many of those who are looking to rent an apartment, especially in major metro areas.
  2. Decorating. If you love to personalize your living space, especially with lots of bold paint colors, many renters find that they are not able to decorate to their liking, since many landlords will not let their renters paint walls, or do any heavy decorating projects like you can in your own home. Decide if this is a deal-breaker for you when choosing to rent or not. Even if you do have a lenient landlord, make sure you first ask for permission to make the changes you desire. If you thoroughly enjoy home renovation projects and prefer to spend your free time working on decorating your home, renting may not be the best option for you.
  3. Pets. There are numerous landlords and property managers out there that don’t allow pets of any kind, the majority of restrictions being on dogs and cats. Landlords are generally under the impression that these types of pets will destroy their property, no matter how well mannered they may seem. If you have pets, you might have a hard time finding a rental, therefore making your search a longer and more cumbersome one. Also, landlords who do allow pets always want a pet deposit upfront, making the expense of renting a bit higher.
  4. Noise. If you like a quiet environment, then renting an apartment may not be for you, since many apartments might have loud neighbors and/or thin walls. Many renters have to deal with noisy neighbors, barking dogs, parties, etc., while living in an apartment. You may want to think of an alternative if you really need peace and quiet where you live.
  5. Rule enforcements. One of the most disconcerting reasons that many tenants move out of their apartments is living in a complex where rules were not enforced as they should be. The landlord may have “special” or favored residents who break rules and get away with anything, while the other tenants are forced to maintain those rules or get in trouble. There really is no way to know if a landlord may favor certain residents over others, so you always run the risk of renting a property where you may be treated unfairly compared to other tenants.

Regardless of what the pros and cons may be, you may sometimes have no choice but to rent an apartment. You can make the best of any situation by searching for your perfect rental unit based on your own lifestyle – pet-friendly or kid-friendly or just in a fantastic neighborhood that suits all your wants and needs! To find your perfect rental, go here.

Questions a tenant should ask before signing a lease

Signing a Lease? Ask These Questions Before You Move In

Are you the type of person who enjoys reading lengthy contracts? I’m willing to bet the answer to that question is “NO”. Agreeing to a serious contract without first reading the fine print, however, could put you in a sticky situation. There are many factors at play when deciding on leasing a property. When you’re responsible for maintaining physical property that’s not yours, you better know what’s at stake. Besides, just because your landlord is running a background check on you doesn’t mean you can’t ask him or her a few questions in return. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind before signing your name on the dotted line.

Understanding lease length

Before you begin looking for a new rental, it’s important to know how long you plan to live in the desired location.  There are two types of leases, fixed-term or month-to-month. Fixed-term leases require the tenant to fulfill the contract for a specified amount of time. Sometimes it’s as low as 3-months and other times it’s as high as 18-months or 2 years. Some condo and apartment complexes encourage renters to sign longer fixed-term contracts by offering reduced monthly rent.  Furthermore, if the renters intend to leave before the contract’s end, they’ll likely incur a hefty fee to break the lease.

Where fixed-term contracts lock in renters, month-to-month contracts offer better flexibility. However, where month-to-month rentals require less commitment, they typically cost more to maintain and landlords may choose to incrementally increase rent over consecutive months.

Does the landlord allow renters to sublease?

Let’s say, for instance, you moved into an apartment with a one-year fixed-term lease and during that first year you receive a job offer of a lifetime in a different city that is too far away for commuting. Let’s also assume that the company that has hired you doesn’t offer you a relocation package, forcing you to pay the fee to break your lease. It’s a bittersweet position to find yourself in, but don’t lose hope quite yet. Some landlords will allow you to essentially “replace” yourself, but that responsibility is yours, not theirs. Subleasing is fantastic because sometimes it can get you out of a bind and save you from having to pay the fee to break the lease.

Ask about pro-rating

This question is rather simple, but if asked and agreed upon, can save you a good chunk of change. Pro-rating involves only charging a percentage of the monthly rent relative to the amount of time you actually lived in the place for that same month. So, if you moved in on the 15th, you should only be charged about 50% of that month’s rent.

How are maintenance requests handled?

Many major apartment and condo complexes have procedures in place on how maintenance requests of renters will be handled. Many of those complexes even have full time personnel on their staff who take care of all maintenance and emergency issues. As a tenant of a standalone unit or home it is very important to ask the landlord how maintenance and repair issues will be handled and in what time frame. Sometimes the landlord will expect you as a tenant to contact a repair service directly. In other cases, the landlord will contact the repair company themselves. Either way, find out ahead of time how maintenance requests will be handled.

Another question you might want to ask your landlord is if and when regular inspections will be conducted? Personal privacy is a sensitive matter and you probably don’t want someone barging in unexpectedly.

Utilities: who pays what? What about deposits?

Utilities are expensive. Gas, electricity, cable, water and garbage disposal costs all add up. Ask your landlord about the diffusion of payment responsibilities. Besides utilities, association fees are quite common. Buildings with pools, workout facilities and business centers all come with added costs. Are these fees included in your rent or do you have to pay them as part of your monthly association fees?

When signing a lease you are usually required to put down a deposit. Deposits serve as upfront insurance policies for property managers and will usually be returned to you after you move out and you have left the rental unit in good condition. Unless you have a dishonest landlord or absolutely obliterated the property, getting this deposit money back shouldn’t be an issue. Assumptions aside, always find out the deposit return policy.

Inquire about move-in details

Before hiring Boston’s best moving company to move you into your new home, know what you need to take care of before walking in the front door with all your gear in tow. Many landlords require insurance policies but can sometimes skim over whether or not you’ve submitted or transferred yours. Some large complexes have rules on what time of the day moving in and out is actually allowed. Another important thing to find out before moving day arrives is to make sure that all the utilities have been transferred and turned on. The last thing you want to find out while you are moving is that the electricity has not been turned on!

Renting a new apartment or house can be a very exciting time in someone’s life, but before signing the lease, please make sure you know what responsibilities you have as a tenant and what you can expect from your landlord. This will prevent many common “renter problems” in the future.

Author Bio: Mark Healey writes about moving, home improvement and DIY projects. Sometimes he writes about other things, too.