By: Lauren Florence, Marina Chairez and Anthony Green
AUSTIN—Location, location, location is always the main catch phrase when looking for the perfect place to call home. Whether looking to rent a place for a year or much longer, everyone seeks a lifestyle of comfort and safety.
Students attending the University of Texas at Austin tend to try and live as close to campus as possible—especially those who may not have their own means of transportation. Students must hunt for the perfect living space and sift through the endless possibilities of apartments, condos and homes.
One of the most populated areas around UT is West Campus, but many residents don’t realize this area is in fact a high-risk floodplain, according to the online resource ATX Floods.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Travis County is “among the fastest growing areas in the nation and in the top 10 percent of flood-damage prone communities.”
In the past year, there have been multiple incidents of flood damage in the West Campus area. Those individuals affected who were uninsured not only had their expensive and potentially irreplaceable possessions ruined, but all expenses to replace those items had to be paid out of pocket.
For some cases, renters affected by flooding might be reimbursed for the cost of a temporary living space, but those who are uninsured, or who only have minimal coverage, may question how renter’s insurance is handled and how to better safeguard their carefully chosen living space and possessions.
Journalism senior Sameer Assanie had his apartment flooded in October of 2015 at The Quarters Montgomery House located near 27th Street and Nueces Street in West Campus.
“We ended up having to find a new place to stay at … We stayed at a hotel that was another couple miles up north on I-35, which meant it would take that much longer to get to campus in the morning,” Assanie said. “We had to book for just short periods at a time because we never got a formal update.”
This temporary period ended up being a month and a half endeavor for both Sameer and his roommate.
“We got updates just about every day, but it was always ‘The contracting team is working on your apartment and will get you a better time table soon,’ and that went on for quite some time and we never got a real ballpark date,” Assanie said. “We would always be back at the apartment to grab stuff because we were never able to take everything and it was always a struggle.”
Flooding Spotlight: West Campus resident deals with damage
Assanie was fortunate enough to have minimal renter’s insurance coverage, as required by the management of his apartment complex. However, Assanie said a better policy with more liability coverage probably would have helped the expense of his damaged possessions.
Lorie Roeckers, office manager at Uptown Realty in West Campus, said her company also requires minimal renter’s insurance for all lease applicants.
“If your folks have homeowners insurance there could be an extension to you to have renters insurance so therefore you’d be covered,” Roeckers said. “If they don’t, then the people who aren’t going to have a guarantor or co-applicant [either]—I just recommend they go online. It’s so easy to get renter’s insurance.”
Jynelle Merch, insurance agent for Geico, said the cost of renter’s insurance varies depending on the policy and how much liability coverage the renter wants for their possessions, but generally the monthly cost of renter’s insurance averages from $20 to $25.
“I think [renter’s insurance is] more important than people think it is to have,” Merch said. “You know when you see on the news or something where there’s a fire and the whole apartment complex is burnt down—all of those people when you look at it, if they don’t have coverage they don’t have anything.”