Does Renters Insurance Cover Biohazard Cleanup? A traumatic twist is a situation where a tenant dies alone in the rental unit and the remains are not found for an extended period. This type of situation is technically known as an unattended death or an undiscovered death. In some cases, it can take not just days but weeks or even months before a body is discovered. Due to the nature of an unattended death and the consequences of the human decomposition process, the course of events in a home after a prolonged undetected death can be labeled as catastrophic. Cleaning up unattended death is one of the most challenging endeavors imaginable. An important question surrounding remediation in these types of situations is whether tenant insurance will pay for the unattended cleanup of death.
Does Renters Insurance Cover Biohazard Cleanup?
It is not uncommon for people with collecting disabilities to experience injuries and illnesses as a result of unsafe living conditions.
If you can’t get health insurance because of your hoarding, you may be wondering if your renter’s insurance covers biohazard cleanup; The answer is yes, but there are many conditions to consider.
While most insurance companies will pay for biohazard cleanup, you may need to take certain steps before doing so.
Especially if your house needs to be cleaned because of a mess, your homeowner’s insurance may cover some or all of the costs, but only if you have renters insurance and certain conditions are met.
Homeowner policies usually don’t cover biological hazards such as mold and asbestos; however, there are some circumstances where homeowners will step in to clean up these substances.
What is tenant insurance?
Tenant insurance is usually purchased to cover the cost of replacing damaged contents and limiting personal liability when renting a house or apartment which is required by many landlords. Even if they don’t, renters insurance can be invaluable. While you should check the specific coverage of any policy you’re considering, renters’ insurance generally covers three areas:
- Personal belongings: The cost of replacing personal belongings, such as clothing, books, furniture, and electronics, up to the policy limits (depending on your policy, you may also be covered for items stolen from your car).
- Liability: Covers costs up to the limit of coverage for repairing damaged property or a guest’s medical bills if you are at fault for your injury.
- Loss of use costs: If the home you live in is damaged and deemed uninhabitable, renters insurance will cover your additional costs over and above the normal cost of living for a specified period, including the cost of a hotel room and food.
Coverage under a standard tenant insurance
The reality is that when a renter is looking for renters insurance, the unattended cleanup of death isn’t going to be on that person’s radar. Another fact is that the typical renter pays little attention to the terms of renters insurance. A tenant just wants to make sure their belongings are covered in case something goes wrong.
The important thing to remember is that no renters insurance policy in the United States will clearly and automatically include a provision that provides explicit coverage for an unattended death. The standard coverage in a renter’s insurance policy covers certain property damage and losses, including:
- Natural disasters (wind, fire, rain, hail)
- Accidental material damage
Keep in mind that not all natural disasters are covered by the terms of a standard renters insurance policy. Earthquakes and floods may not be covered by typical renters insurance. Although this cover can be obtained, the renter must take out additional insurance for this.
Just because a renter’s insurance policy doesn’t explicitly state that unattended death cleanup is covered, doesn’t mean an insurance company can ultimately be responsible for paying for this type of critical cleanup. The standard terms of a specific renters insurance policy may be open to interpretation to the extent that unattended death can reasonably be considered covered.
The problem is that when there is a discussion about the meaning of the terms of renters insurance, legal proceedings may be necessary. Lawsuits can take many months or even years. So while a policy may eventually be enacted to cover an unattended death cleanup, that determination can take a long, long time.
If for any reason a renter is particularly concerned about having unattended death cleanup coverage specifically stated on the renter’s insurance policy, an insurer would be able and willing to add a rider to the standard policy so that this cover is available. This would require something extra in the form of premium costs. However, the cost is unlikely to be significant, as the chance of an unattended death is low.
Tenant Insurance Exclusions
In addition to determining what specifically the renter’s insurance covers, you should also pay attention to the exclusions. For example, a renter’s insurance policy may include an exclusion of microorganisms, leakage, or biological hazards that would prevent coverage for an unattended death. Exclusions should be carefully examined when accurately determining the nature and extent of coverage of any type of insurance policy, including renters insurance.
If the house or apartment you rent has been damaged by blood, bodily fluids, or other biological hazards, your landlord’s property insurance generally covers the cost of replacing building materials and repairing the structure. Most people’s rental insurance covers the cost of replacing irreparable personal effects after the deductible has been met, but does not cover the cost of repairing the building. Without renters insurance, you have to cover the cost of all your belongings yourself. Talk to your landlord or property management company to find out what is covered in the event of biohazard damage, as policies can vary.
How renters insurance comes into play
Tenant insurance can come into play after a tenant’s unattended death when the property owner is looking for a means to pay for the home’s cleanup. A landlord is understandably interested in determining whether there is some mechanism by which the tenant’s estate can have assets to cover the cost of an unattended death. In addition, a landlord will want to investigate whether there may be insurance coverage to address the costs associated with unattended death cleanup.
If a renter’s insurance doesn’t cover unattended death, the landlord can have insurance coverage on the property that helps in this regard, at least to some degree. Property insurance that a landlord can have on rental properties may have broader coverage than a typical standard tenant insurance policy.
In the final analysis, when it comes to an unattended death in a rented property, a renter’s insurance will most likely not provide undiscovered clearance coverage. That said, and with the prospect of other insurance policies being available to provide coverage, it makes sense for the homeowner to contact an unattended death clearing company that accepts a variety of payment types, including insurance.
Make sure you have adequate coverage and a deductible that you can afford
Before purchasing a specific policy, ensure that the amounts of coverage are appropriate for your situation. How much would it cost to replace all your gear? Go through your house and make an inventory of everything you have and how much it would cost to replace it. Most people’s possessions are much more valuable than they realize. Pay special attention to expensive jewelry, electronics, or special collections. For example, replacing a collection of books can cost thousands of dollars. The average policy may have cost limits in these categories and you may need a supplemental policy. (An insurance agent will help you figure out what’s right for your situation.) Once your inventory is complete, be sure to store your list electronically in a place that’s easily accessible in the event of a disaster. If your property is damaged by a covered event, be sure to take photos of all your damaged property before the repair begins so that you can later submit proof of your claim.
In addition to making sure you have adequate coverage, make sure you have a deductible that you can afford. A deductible is an amount that you are expected to pay before the insurance covers the rest of the damage (up to the policy limit). For example, your particular policy may have a $500 deductible and will cover $25,000 in the personal property after you meet your deductible. In the event of a fire, you would pay $500 to replace your items, and then your renter’s insurance would cover the rest of the cost up to $25,000. Whatever deductible you choose, make sure you can pay that amount in an emergency. Your insurance is only activated after the deductible has been paid. If the damage is less than the cost of the deductible, the damage will not be covered by your insurance.
Conclusion – Does Renters Insurance Cover Biohazard Cleanup?
Often. But due to the size and nature of these policies, they are unlikely to pay the full cost. In a rental home, both the tenant’s and landlord’s policies are likely to add to the cost of cleaning and renovation.