Allstate survey focuses on better home protection
September 22, 2008 · Updated 4:33 PM
As the number of Americans renting homes dramatically increases with the current housing foreclosure crisis, a new survey released by Allstate’s Northwest regional office in Bothell finds most Washington renters are inadequately prepared to protect homes and belongings.
While homeowners coverage is required as a part of most mortgages, the approximate 750,000 Washington residents who rent their homes face no such insurance requirement. Without that requirement, 53 percent of Washington renters acknowledged they have renters insurance to cover their property in case of loss, compared to just 40 percent of national survey respondents.
The share of rental households in the U.S. jumped by about 1 million in 2007 and this group is likely to expand further if foreclosure trends continue, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. With no relief in sight for the housing market, it is critical for renters to be prepared to protect their homes and possessions in case of a loss.
Allstate’s survey also found that two-thirds of Washington renters say they have not done a home-inventory checklist, or tried to estimate the cost of replacing everything in their home in the past year or two. Without home-inventory checklists, renters in Washington may face challenges when filing a claim to replace stolen or damaged property, possibly delaying payment from their insurance provider. Fewer than one in five Washington renters (17 percent) say they have taken photographs or videotaped their possessions during the past two years to help document what they own.
The survey found most renters in Washington underestimate the threat theft poses to their belongings. More than half (52 percent) of the renters surveyed estimated the number of burglaries and other property crimes in Washington at less than 100,000, while the actual number of burglaries alone was more than half that. According to the FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Report, there were more than 50,000 burglaries in Washington in 2006. Only 9 percent of renters guessed the number was roughly in this range.
“This survey highlights the importance of educating American families who rent about the risks facing their homes and possessions,” said Jeff Deigl, vice president of specialty product lines for Allstate. “It’s a wake-up call to increase awareness of the resources available to minimize these risks.”