If you reside in a rental unit located within Massachusetts, your landlord must carry insurance to cover some of your expenses and property damage caused by a fire.
That’s right. Every insurance policy in Massachusetts that covers a multi-unit residential property must include a fire endorsement for up to $750 for each rental unit. The $750 is available without deductible, but only for damage by fire.
This is important, so let’s go over it again: If you rent an apartment in Massachusetts, and your building suffers a fire, your landlord should have an insurance policy that covers your unit for damages incurred up to the amount of $750.
The $750 limit is available per rental unit, not per resident. In other words, if you and your best friend share an apartment, the $750 is the total available to you both – you can’t each collect $750.
What does that $750 cover? Actual costs shall include hotels, security deposits, clothing, furniture, and other reasonable costs and living expenses. It will also cover the first month of rent for a new unit if you’re not owed a security deposit or last month’s rent from your landlord.
What do you need to do if you’re a renter and you have suffered a fire in your building? The landlord’s insurance company will deal directly with you, and will make the payment for this coverage to you. After a fire, be sure to request the adjuster’s contact information and keep your receipts. You will need to prove your expenditures to the insurance company, so receipts and proof of payment are vital.
As helpful as this coverage is, for anything but a very small fire, this coverage by itself is insufficient – even more so if you have a roommate, a water loss, or a catastrophic loss. We suggest you buy your own renter’s insurance to cover your personal property and any additional living expenses you would need in the event your unit becomes uninhabitable.
To determine how much renter’s insurance you need, simply take a quick inventory of the big things you own. This list should include computers, furniture, electronics and clothing. Estimate their collective value – and then round up! You should also factor in the cost of temporarily living in a hotel and eating out while searching for another place to live. Local agents can help you to purchase the proper amount of insurance. And remember: if you make large purchases or move into a bigger space, those are the times to increase your insurance.