Benefits of having renters insurance when disaster strikes

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you own a home, chances are you have homeowner's insurance to protect you when disaster strikes. But what if you rent? Do you still need insurance? The answer is yes.

When the deep freeze hit Texas in February, Amani Elsawah was one of millions of people who lost power and suffered water damage when her frozen pipes burst.

"I was so shocked because it was literally raining in my apartment," Elsawah said. "It was gushing out so much that it started flooding almost immediately."

The damage to Elsawah's home was so bad, she was forced out.

"I had to leave my apartment and find somewhere dry and safe to go," she said.

Since then, Elsawah has been living in a hotel, and the bills are adding up.

Fortunately, she has renters insurance, which will pay some of her living expenses and help cover much of what she lost.

Her policy costs about $20 a month, money well spent according to Consumer Reports.

"Renters insurance can provide an important safety net if something happens," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Penny Wang.

Aside from helping cover damage or theft of your property, and reimbursement if you're forced to move out, insurance offers liability protection if someone is injured in your home. It can also cover some possessions when you're not home, like if something is stolen out of your car.

RELATED: If weather caused pipes to burst, do landlords or renters pay for repairs?
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If you're a renter, and the frigid weather busted pipes, ABC13 took a look at who's responsible for repairs.



But like any type of insurance, Consumer Reports says it's important to check the policy carefully.

"Renters insurance is fairly standardized, though coverage can vary based on the insurer and where you live," Wang said. "Bottom line: Make sure you understand your policy, what's covered and what's not."

Consumer Reports suggests getting several quotes to make sure the policy gives you what you need, whether that's a low deductible, additional coverage for your valuables, or like Elsawah, a stay in a hotel if your apartment is damaged.

"You don't know when you're going to need it until you need it," Elsawah said. "And then once you need it, you're glad that you have it."

Consumer Reports also recommends doing a home inventory before disaster strikes. That can be as easy as taking a video of important items in your house.

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