Downtown fire shows importance of renters' insurance


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Andrew Havey, a 22-year-old Iowa City resident, lost everything in the fire that destroyed Bruegger's Bagel Bakery in the early morning hours of Sept. 24.

While Havey admits some things cannot be replaced — including his cat and girlfriend's art portfolio — he can be compensated for some items. Havey had purchased renter's insurance and is able to have some of his possessions replaced and repaired, as well as help with temporary living arrangements.

Havey was covered through his parent's insurance policy, and while he has yet to figure out a specific replacement value, he knows the repayment will be significant.

"The money we will get back will be in full for our television, DVD player, Wii, Nintendo 64, our bed, three computers, an iPad, and two iPods," Havey said. "It's a hefty sum of money."

Depending on the specifications of coverage, renter's insurance can cover damage to personal property and liability damage. If a tenant is negligent and destroys part of another tenant's apartment, the insurance can cover the other tenant's damages as well.

According to a study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, three out of 10 Americans have renter's insurance.

University of Iowa senior Lance Iburg faced a similar situation last February when his apartment burned down.

A $120 annual investment in renter's insurance bought Iburg almost $20,000 in property damage replacement.

After a recommendation to get renter's insurance from his landlord, Iburg made the investment and was able to save a significant amount of money when his apartment burnt down last February.

Having renter's insurance also covers transitional living expenses, said Chad Burtch, a State Farm insurance agent.

"I'd say the main benefit is if there was a tornado or a fire the insurance is not only going to cover your personal property, but it'll also put you somewhere else in the meantime," Burtch said.

Iburg was allowed $5,000 to spend on a hotel as he sorted out future living arrangements. He was also given $10,000 to $15,000 to replace personal property loss and damage.

Iburg's insurance policy cost him $10 per month through Progressive Insurance.

"Well, at the time you're paying for it you may think it's kind of dumb, but when you have something like a fire occur and you have thousands of dollars in property damage and loss, $120 per year is worth the sacrifice," he said. "It's definitely worth it in the long run."

And throughout the ordeal of replacing his losses, Iburg felt grateful there was one fewer thing to stress about, because he was able to replace and clean damaged furniture, clothing, and food.

"It was definitely a huge helper having it because it would have been a lot worse not having renter's insurance," he said. "I'd say it's definitely worth the purchase."

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