Barely one week into the new year, 10 people were left homeless after a fire ripped through an apartment building in the Plateau. A few days before that, a dozen Montrealers were forced out of their homes after a suspicious fire blasted an apartment building in LaSalle. That same day another fire forced 12 CÃ´te des Neiges/Notre Dame de Gr’ce residents onto the street.
Every year, Montreal residents suffer great personal and material loss when apartments burn, flood or are robbed. In spite of all the reports and stories of suffering, the number of renters without insurance remains high. Less than half of Canadian renters are insured, according to Statistics Canada.
Between 2003 and 2005 there was an average of 10,800 structural fires each year, which accounted for 60 accidental fire-related deaths and $514 million in material losses, according to the SÃ©curitÃ© publique QuÃ©bec.
Still, many young Canadians remain unaware of relatively cheap insurance options.
At Concordia University, many students admitted they weren’t even aware of whether their apartments were insured. Others still said they plain don’t think about getting insurance at all.
“I honestly have no idea whether or not we are insured,” said student Yves Elmir, before adding that living in a “very friendly neighbourhood helps quash any fears of theft. In terms of fires, however, Elmir said the thought does concern him. “It’s scary because just today someone left the stove on. There could easily have been a fire.”
In 2008, less than half of apartment tenants bought renters’ insurance, according to Statistics Canada. During that same year, 97 per cent of homeowners had insurance for their homes.
According to the federal agency, 4.4 million homes in Canada (about 34 per cent) are rented.
Montreal resident Jeff Quick, who rents, said he would never consider being uninsured. “Ever since I can remember I’ve had insurance,” he said. “It’s easy to get. All you have to do is call an insurance company.”
After selecting a company, an assessment will be made based on several factors including location, whether the dwelling has an alarm system and smoke detector and how old the building is.
Home insurance protects renters in the event of a fire, flood or robbery. “You can insure your laptop, watches, cell phone, television or sound system,” he said, noting the payoff can be pretty high sometimes. For $22 a month for full coverage, Quick said he maintains a sense of security and peace of mind.