After a disaster, it can be hard to know the steps to take – and if you don’t have renters’ insurance, your path to recovery will likely be more difficult. Before a fire or other disaster occurs, there are several steps renters can take to protect their property and make the post-disaster recovery process smoother. Although it isn’t pleasant to think about the possibility of disaster, it is always better to be prepared.

Before Disaster Strikes

Get Insurance

Your landlord’s insurance only covers their property, not yours. One way to evaluate what is and isn’t covered by your landlord’s policy is to imagine turning the apartment upside down and shaking it. Anything that isn’t a part of the building and falls out would not be covered. (Note that any landlord – provided appliances or furnishings would be covered under the landlord’s policy.)

Besides your belongings, many standard renters’ insurance policies also include additional living expense (ALE) coverage, which reimburses the policyholder for the cost of maintaining a comparable standard of living following a covered loss that exceeds the insured's normal expenses prior to the loss. 

Many lease agreements stipulate that you must purchase a renters’ insurance policy, but all renters should consider getting insurance.

Check Your Insurance

In addition to obtaining an insurance policy which covers your property within the apartment unit, it is also advisable to check your insurance regularly to make sure that it is up to date.

Even if you purchased your insurance policy last year, you may need to consider increasing the amount of coverage if you have purchased additional property since then. An insurance expert, such as a public adjuster, can also help you evaluate if your policy limits are enough to cover your property.

Document Your Property

To make use of your insurance policy, you need proof of the property that it covers. Take a video of your apartment and contents to document exactly what you have – even down to your toothbrush – and save it to the cloud or in another safe place. Consider updating this video once or twice a year in case you purchase new or additional belongings. Should disaster strike, having visual proof of the specific make and model of your items can help you receive an accurate settlement.

After Disaster Strikes

Should you experience a loss and have renters’ insurance, file a claim as soon as possible – this is where your video inventory will be most helpful. If you don’t have a video, start with your biggest or most expensive items, and mentally walk through your apartment making a detailed list of its contents.

Remember that immediately after the disaster, you should preserve the evidence for the experts to evaluate. Once it is safe and advisable to do so, retrieve your salvageable belongings from your apartment to avoid the chance of looters stealing your valuables.

If you don’t have renters’ insurance, below are some resources that may be able to help you on your road to recovery:

  • The American Red Cross may be able to supply shelter, food, and other necessities.
  • Consider starting a GoFundMe fundraiser to help cover the cost of the loss and your living expenses.
  • Friends, family, and neighbors who may not have been affected by the disaster may be able to provide shelter or financial assistance.
  • Community organizations such as churches and food banks may be able to provide clothing, food, shelter, or other essentials.
  • Consider utilizing Nextdoor to see where you may be able to receive additional help.

If the fire that affected your apartment also made a significant impact on your greater community, it is likely that there will be additional resources made available to you, whether you have renters’ insurance or not.

Ultimately, some fires are not preventable – the only thing you can do is prepare and know what to do when the fire trucks leave. Should your apartment experience a disaster, an expert public adjuster from Adjusters International/MBC can help you navigate the insurance claims process to receive an optimal settlement. Contact us today with questions: 1-888-316-9020 or schedule an appointment at