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Wendy Reuer, Published October 13 2010

APARTMENT FIRE: Unknown how many residents were insured

It’s unknown how many tenants displaced by Monday’s Galleria On 42nd apartment building fire in south Fargo had renters insurance because it wasn’t required by the building’s property managers.

Damage to the building is covered by property insurance, said Dan Hollwegner, vice president of operations for Investment Management & Marketing of Minot, N.D. This includes money to help replace carpets, fixtures, and walls.

But what was inside those walls – the tenants’ personal belongings – is covered under renters insurance, something many tenants didn’t have.

Karissa Yates, who lived on the third floor of the Galleria On 42nd with her husband and two children, said getting renters insurance was something they talked about but didn’t get around to.

Yates didn’t expect to salvage much from her apartment, which was near the most severely damaged portion of the building.

“My apartment’s gone,” Yates said.

Most managers of apartment buildings don’t require tenants to have renters insurance, even though it is relatively inexpensive.

Policies cost between $10 and $12 a month, said Ryan Hoffman, account manager for Dawson’s Insurance in Fargo. The policies cover belongings and displacement costs such as hotel rooms.

Hoffman said renters insurance also provides liability coverage, and not just at home. He used an example of playing flag football and someone else gets hurt.

“It would cover the liability for that,” Hoffman said.

Renters insurance can also be a money saver.

“Most of the time, the carrier offering the coverage carries a multipackage discount,” Hoffman said.

Jason Wells, an underwriting manager with Farmers’ Union Insurance, said each policy is different, but most renters insurance policies cover fire, smoke damage and water damage due to fire.

Some dependent students may be covered under their parents’ homeowners insurance, but Wells said renters should never assume they have coverage.

“It is very important to find out what you are covered with. Don’t just think you are covered,” Wells said.

He suggested that renters and homeowners have an up-to-date property inventory to aid in filing a claim.

“In the event of a loss, you’ll be asked to provide that, and at the time of a loss, you won’t always be thinking clearly,” Wells said. “You could miss something if you have to scramble to remember what you had.”


Amy Dalrymple contributed to this report. Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530