Renters increasingly forego getting their own coverage thinking either that they can’t afford it, or don’t need it, according to New Brunswick-based non-profit, Big Hearts Small City – and it’s a situation the community group would like to see change via landlords requiring proof of insurance from their renters.
Many tenants are under the mistaken impression that the insurance their landlords take out will cover them, says a spokesperson for the non-profit, but typically these commercial policies cover the building itself, not the tenants.
“A lot of people think because they rent, they’re automatically covered,” says Jason Surette, the founder of Big Hearts Small City.
“Some people don’t even know renter’s insurance exists.”
Surette says this gap in knowledge puts pressure on the community organizations that assist people following a fire.
The organization also wants to see property managers educate their renters on the importance of tenant's insurance.
Surette says he started Big Hearts Small City after noticing that, while there was much community support for people who lost their homes to fire in the form of donated clothes and furniture, if newly-displaced fire victims didn't have insurance and weren't receiving social assistance they were often left homeless.
Big Hearts Small City has seen an increasing number of apartment fires recently, and most of the affected tenants didn't have insurance.
Typically, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, many people also underestimate the value of what’s in their home.
“When you go around your apartment and start calculating the cost of replacing the sofa, the cutlery in the kitchen, your bed, it adds up quickly,” says Amanda Dean, the vice-president of IBC Atlantic.