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Uptick in Purchase of Home Computers and Office Furnishings


Good Time for Property Managers to Encourage Renters Insurance

By Nelson Townes III

Today’s remote work-at-home environment has impelled hundreds of thousands of people to purchase new laptops, computer monitors, and home office furnishings and supplies. Many of these expensive items remain uninsured for theft or damage.

This is especially the case with the personal property of young apartment dwellers that have neglected to buy a renters’ insurance policy. Only 46 percent of tenants carry renters’ insurance, compared to the 91 percent of homeowners that have homeowners’ insurance, according to the latest statistics. Considering there are more renters in the United States than at any time since 1965, that’s a lot of people without insurance to defray such high value property losses -- many of which are today’s telecommuting office workers and college students. 

To improve working conditions at home, these individuals are developing home office arrangements they did not have previously, paid for, in some cases, with federal stimulus money. 

And, boy, are they spending. In March, the month many state shelter-in-place state mandates went into effect, hordes of employees purchased an array of personal computers, monitors, keyboards, mice and docking stations to modernize their home office set up, with the sales of these items doubling from the previous month in some cases, according to market research firm NPD

The same month, purchases of home office furniture and office supplies at major retailers like Overstock, Office Depot, Staples, and Wayfair also soared. A headline from The Wall Street Journal article sums up the rush to create more productive home work environments: “Store Shelves Stripped of Laptops as Coronavirus Increases Working from Home.” 

Yet another retail category experiencing a substantial spurt in sales in March was home décor and furniture. With many people spending an inordinate amount of time at home, they’re more cognizant (and critical) of their surroundings, driving them to spruce up their apartments. “The goal is to have a space that feels a little bit normal amid the chaos,” The Washington Post reported in an article on the phenomenon. 

These varied purchases suggest that many at-home employees are looking to work more efficiently and in a more inviting atmosphere. That’s good news for employers worried about decreased productivity as the workspace shifts to unsupervised people working from home. 

The challenge is that tenants may be on the hook for substantial financial losses if the newly purchased and expensive items are stolen or damaged, at a time when some renters might also be experiencing difficulties paying the monthly rent. 

Given the rise in the value of renters’ personal property and the potential high cost of an uninsured loss, now is an opportune time for property managers to strongly encourage tenants to acquire renters’ insurance. Property managers can intervene to the benefit of tenants and themselves, helping to bring awareness to ensuring their assets are protected.
By offering high quality renters’ insurance to tenants, renters will be able to pay for the repair or replacement of damaged or stolen personal property like computers, peripherals, desks and chairs. The cost of the insurance for tenants is minimal compared to the value provided, less than 50 cents per day for up to $20,000 in annual financial protection.

Not all renters’ insurance policies are alike. For instance, some policies don’t absorb the cost of damage and destruction occurring to tenants’ “smart” personal devices, such as smartphones, laptops, virtual personal assistants and wireless flat screen televisions. QBE North America’s renters’ insurance policy comes with an added coverage feature that absorbs such financial losses for as little as a few dollars per month in monthly premium, about half the cost of a cup of coffee.

With so much else to worry about these days, a renters’ insurance policy offers tenants’ peace of mind that their modern, productive and inviting home office setup will provide the ease of work needed to keep their lives and the economy humming.

Nelson Townes III is Vice President of National Sales for QBE North America. 

QBE specializes in Multi-Dwelling Renters coverages and assisting property managers and tenants with covering their personal and liability exposures. 

For any inquires: nelson.townes@us.qbe.com