What exactly does renters insurance cover?

The insurance company keeps changing our coverage status each time we have contacted them for help. We were told they will only cover personal injury if it is dangerous to our health or lives. You can’t get any more dangerous more life-threatening than a home that’s insulated in fiberglass/asbestos insulation with asbestos popcorn ceilings and entirety of home saturated in black mold. We first call the 1-800 to file a claim. They initiate our claim giving us some hope by stating the claims adjuster will be contacting us to let us know if we’re covered or not covered. Claims adjuster confirms were covered with a claim. They tell us our local insurance agent will be contacting us with further help. Meanwhile we need to get out of our house are and to make sure we keep all receipts for hotels etc that we stay in. The local agent contacts us and denies us any help because we’re not covered. Then asks me if we have an attorney. We have had an aweful toxic chemical coming out of our air vents that is burning our eyes, nose, throat and chest. Our dogs are veey sick. I have to vacuum 3-4x’s daily. Our furniture and carpeting get covered in a silver colored matter with little shard objects. We have to go outside to breathe. There is so much more detail to give. I even have pictures and specimens to prove severe code violations. We’re in our 60’s and 70’s that are good paying tenants. We’re in and out of hospital and nothing’s being done.

Asked on December 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Insurance covers against (to oversimplify) sudden events which occur after the insurance is purchased: storm damage, fire damage, etc. It generally does not cover pre-existing conditions--things that existed before the insurance was purchased, like the constructon or insulation of your rental home. It is very likely that your insurance will not cover this, since it was not something that occured after you rented and purchased insurance, but rather something existing prior to renting and buying coverage.
However, if the home's habitability--the ability to safely use and live in the home--is impaired, your landlord may well be liable for some of your costs or losses. The law obligates landlords to provide rental premises which are cit for their intended use ("implied warranty of habitability"). Speak to a landlord-tenant attorney about your situation.


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