Many who were damaged by Sandy rent, and lack renters' insurance

Many New York residents will be forced to cover the cost of their their losses themselves: most households in NYC rent -- nearly 70 percent of them -- and fewer than a third of renters have renter's insurance. More at (HT: Lauren Young).


  1. So what do we think will happen here; 2/3’s of renters learn from their mistake and get renters’ insurance after the fact, or mass migration to law offices for the loading of the lawsuit cannons?

    1. Not entirely sure what the basis of lawsuits would be. Also, for most people a suit would not be cost effective. I wonder if some Federal aid might come through . . .

      1. “Basis?”  That word implies that common sense is often employed in the creation of lawsuits.

        1. Actually, the “cost effective” part is what will keep lawyers from firing the claims up. If you lost $30,000 worth of stuff (and that’d be a lot for most two-bedroom apartments), 30% of the recovery is $9,000. Hardly worth the effort.

  2. um, anyone renting in a NYC flood zone isn’t likely to rent a ground floor apartment (that’d be where a store would be), so other than the contents of the fridge, what would they be claiming as losses?

    1. Judging from the eating habits of most people in NYC those fridges are probably empty except for a jar of mustard and some old duck sauce containers anyway.

      1. I stayed at the house of a friend’s parents in Brooklyn years ago. Huge, old brownstone. Kitchen the size of a phone booth. Apparently never used for anything except washing up after eating Chinese take-out. Very weird. Drive a few hours up the coast to Boston and people live in their kitchens.

    2. anything looted from their apartment
      their security deposit
      moving expenses

      before you naysay, have some imagination.

      1. why would they lose their security deposit? I’ve got imagination, but you’re just making stuff up. Also, looting usually involves stores. What you’re describing is burglary, which, yes, is covered by insurance.

        1. is it impossible that they would lose their security department?

          You do have imagination. Sadly you use it to describe me, after I took the effort to use mine to help answer your question about other people.

          Not a mistake I’m likely to make again. Good day.

    3. Have you ever been through a storm? Power surges, smashed windows, torn-up roof, assorted leaks, there are plenty of reasons for people to incur loss due to any weather event.

      1. in fact I just weathered this storm in my apartment building a mile from the water in Brooklyn.  All the things you mentioned are things a landlord would be responsible for, not a tenant.  Why on earth would a renter be responsible for a torn-up roof? Did you even read the post?

        1. I most certainly did. The landlord would not be responsible for replacing anything damaged due to these conditions, nor would they pay your rent while your apartment has to be evacuated to repair them.

  3. I work in insurance (ugh) and try to educate people all the time about renter’s insurance (cheap!).  It doesn’t cost much at all, and people really don’t want to hear it.  So, renters of Boing Boing, check on the renter’s insurance.  A lot of time if you’ve already got car insurance your company can bundle it in for just a few dollars a month.  Protect yo’ stuff. 

    1. + Eleventy
      My brother and his wife were moving into a house.  They had just gotten married and all of their presents and new furniture were in the home.  There was a blackout, and when the power came back on an outlet caught fire.  No one was home (as they were staying somewhere else with power), and they lost everything.  They had no renter’s insurance and a lot of problems.  I got renter’s insurance that very night.
      It’s cheap.  Super cheap.  Get it.  Now.  Do it.  Really.

    2. Do most (cheap) renter policies cover flood, though?  I thought flood coverage was a pretty expensive add-on.

      But yes, renters insurance is still a very good idea.

      1. My cheap one does. Although, reading the policy it’s clear they will not cover damage to the domicile (only what I own within). I suspect, that is why it can be so cheap and provide the kind of robust coverage that costs a lot more with homeowners insurance.

        The cost of renter’s insurance (in my not-cheap area), is the same as drinking 11 craft beers at a bar a year.

      2. Mine in Los Angeles covers flood.  But it does *not* cover earthquakes.  That’s another $100-ish per year.  I think depending on where you live, basic renter’s insurance might not cover the most likely natural disaster to hit you.

        Still, it is cheap, and as a renter, I live in perpetual fear that an idiot neighbor will burn our building down.

    3.  it is SO CHEAP. Mine is like a hundred something bucks a year for 30K coverage. I live above twentysomethings in their first apartment who do not understand cooking yet. Peace of mind.

    4. Renters Insurance for the win! My wife and I put it off for years even when a friend’s apartment caught on fire and she lost everything. Eventually, we needed event insurance for our wedding and found that renters insurance would cover it and kill two birds with one stone. 

      We had two bags stolen on our honeymoon and found there was a clause for travel theft too. (Seemed a trivial thing to claim but totaling up the bags and their contents came to $1400) I would never be without it now.

    5. Back when I was renting, renters insurance was insanely cheap.  It was so cheap I was surprised that the company bothered with it at all.  I figured the must almost never pay out on the policies if they can afford to charge so little for them. 

    6. I have auto and renters with the same company. Together they cost less than just auto thanks to the bundling discount.

  4. As someone who has been through two floods caused by hurricanes now – both of them in second floor apts not directly impacted in a flood zone – you can still get structural damage trees/debris/wind (and then of course, the wind/water) causes damage to your stuff.   If you can not get into your place – or worse yet, the building is condemned, renters insurance will also often cover short term rental emergency stays.     Your landlords’ owners insurance will not cover any damage to your things at all. 

    Its crazy cheap when you consider the over-all value of replacing EVERYTHING you own.  Granted, it can vary where you live.  But still worth it. 

  5. I look at insurance this way- if you aren’t mandated to have it and if your property will cost less to replace than the insurance will cost, then fine, don’t insure it.

    If you’re like most of the rest of us, with thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in personal property, just get the stinkin’ insurance.  If nothing else, your clothes, your bed, and your personal appliances and electronics will be covered.

    1. In addition, if your negligence causes loss to OTHER renters (i.e. their apartment burns because of your negligence) your insurance covers their loss. That way they don’t sue you personally, and drive you into bankruptcy.

  6. Under most renter’s insurance policies, flooding is not covered. Usually, that would be a separate policy or a rider on a basic renters policy, but it’s important to understand that. To it’s credit, however, if you have good credit, etc., you CAN get a pretty respectable insurance for a couple/few hundred dollars a year, and like someone else said, you’d think it was worth it when they helped pay for alternative housing, basic furnishings, clothes, appliances and electronics if you did lose everything. Several years ago I was walking by the scene of an apartment fire here in Chicago late one night and ran into a girl I knew who was watching the commotion with everyone else on the street. Turns out it was her building, and they lost all their stuff, and had no insurance. I bought a cheap policy online that night.

  7. Renter’s insurance? LOL … THAT is a luxury that most people simply cannot afford.
    renter’s insurance .. yeah right. LMAO
    … also, it is my opinion that insurance in general is one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on humanity. Insurance is evil. If you can’t see that now, it’s unlikely you ever will.

    1. I think that people who have that opinion have not priced renter’s insurance. It is cheaper than many, many things in your life.

      1.  Caveat Emptor of course, but a well-read insurance policy can save someone who actually needs to claim a Lot of money. I travelled overseas two years ago with my then-partner, and I got travel insurance. Bloody good thing I did, she got really sick Christmas day. Insurance saved my ass!

      2.  I got my recent policy added on to my car insurance policy (through USAA) when I moved to Atlanta. I think it’s an extra $5-something a month. Since my last three houses were in flood-and-or-earthquake prone areas (and I was lucky in all three places), I’ve just gotten in the habit of getting it when I move.

        1. USAA is a bit of a different animal, in that they’re one of the least scammy companies that offer these services.

      3. It really is cheap.

        Mine was up as of today. I tried to go online last week and renew it but they required my policy number and I was too lazy to go dig out the original policy to get the number to renew it online, so I let it lapse. Then the STORM OF THE CENTURY happened and I live in a basement apartment…

        I got very lucky. No damage at all from the storm and learned my lesson and I’m digging that policy out ASAP and renewing the hell out of it. It’s gonna be so renewed it’s not going to know what hit it.

        Doesn’t cover flood, though.

    2. In my experience, a good renter’s policy can be had for ~$20/mo.  Of course, that varies based on location, credit, amount of coverage.
      Insurance is unfortunately a necessary evil.  Most people can’t afford to be self-insured.

      1. $212 per year. Actually free because, as mentioned elsewhere, it reduces my auto policy premium by more than that amount. Covers $43K in personal property, $500K liability and $1K medical. $500 deductible.

        And….I’m not sure about this policy, but my previous one paid out a tidy sum for loss of personal property that was in my car when it was stolen.

    3. Spoken like someone who is under the age of 25, and who hasn’t yet suffered through a financially crippling occurrence in their short adult life-span.

    4. My renters insurance is $237 a year. That’s less than the cheapest thing in my house worth stealing and 17% of the value of the one claim I’ve made so far.

    5. What a fantastically structured argument.  You have convinced me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  8. It’s probably more than 2/3 as bare bones renter’s insurance only covers fire and theft.  I was flooded in 1985 and mine did not cover it.  So I dropped coverage until I moved into an apt years later that (illegally) required it.

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