Apartments and rented spaces are vulnerable to natural disasters like fire or floods, and incidents like crime, death, theft and vandalism. In such events, the structural damage, along with the costs of cleaning and repairs, can pile up pretty fast. Most people cannot pay up for these damages from their savings.
It is important to have the right insurance to avoid a financial crisis in such events. Property insurance usually insures a landlord against structural damage to the building. But it doesn’t cover the renters’ personal belongings.
Renter’s insurance covers damages to personal belongings in such events. Also, it protects the policyholder if they are found responsible (intentionally or unintentionally) for damage or injury to some other person or apartment. Some insurance policies include liability coverage to help them pay for medical and legal fees in such situations.
For example, suppose you have a plumbing issue in your apartment, which causes water to leak through pipes, and it damages your neighbor’s apartment. It flows onto their furniture, electronics and other belongings.
In this case, liability coverage will help you pay for the property damage, pay for a lawyer if your neighbor decides to sue you, and if the damage is severe enough, pay for temporary housing for the neighbor.
What is biohazard damage?
Biohazard damage is caused by any biological substance that poses a threat to the health of humans. Common biohazards we come in contact with are blood, human waste, mold, fungus, animal infestations and industrial chemicals.
The Centre for Disease Control has classified biohazards into four categories, based on the extent to which they cause harm.
Level 1 biohazards are micro-organisms that pose minimal threat to the community. This mostly applies to people who work in laboratories with micro-organisms that pose little to no threat of infection to healthy adults. If you are exposed to a level 1 biohazard, you should take precautions like wearing masks and gloves, but no special containment is required.
Level 2 biohazards are caused by microbes that can spread disease among humans-they include pathogenic and infectious organisms. They can cause infection through ingestion or contact with the skin of a person who is infected.
Level 3 biohazards include microbes that can be lethal, and can spread through inhalation, e.g. the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. These microbes spread through air, and can spread infection even without direct contact.
Level 4 biohazards include microbes that can cause fatal infections, and have no known cure, e.g. Ebola virus. They may even be unknown, without any past research on them. They require special equipment like full body suits with air supply and decontamination, to protect a person from being infected.
In your daily life, a substance is labelled as a biohazard when it carries any of these microbes that pose a threat to your health. Human and animal waste, blood, fungus, etc. are the most common carriers of these microbes.
What might cause a biohazard in an apartment?
Suicides, homicides, or assault may result in violence and spillage of blood, saliva, urine or other bodily fluids. Sometimes, an unfortunate injury may also lead to this outcome. This poses a severe risk in the form of bloodborne pathogens, especially when the blood is not cleaned up for a long time, because it becomes a breeding ground for these harmful micro-organisms.
Confinement due to infection
During the COVID 19 pandemic, many people were home quarantined to prevent transmission of the virus to other people outside. When an infected person is quarantined in a certain room or section of the house, other residents often come into contact with the person.
People who come to clean the room, serve food, or check up on the patient, may forget to sanitize their hands after visit. It is difficult to stop the spread of infection in one living area. In such situations, homes with infected people become a site of biohazard.
Stray animals and pests
If there are parts of your apartment that you don’t use much, like a storage room or a balcony, stray animals like rodents or birds may take shelter in those spaces. If you happen to have a house with a backyard, garage, covered pool, or any other neglected space, sometimes even racoons and possums wander into these spaces.
If these stray animals die in that space, and go unnoticed for days, the place becomes a breeding ground for pathogens. Such instances are not uncommon, especially if certain areas of the house are abandoned and neglected.
Water clogging and blockage
If there is an issue with your plumbing system, specifically a clogged sink or toilet, it prevents waste water from getting properly flushed out. This sewage water then builds up in the pipes, which leads to the release of dangerous gases. If the blockage is ignored for several days, the water could flow out into all neighboring toilets and sinks, thus causing damage in multiple apartments at once.
What happens in a biohazard clean up?
Biohazard cleaning is a crucial process that must be done meticulously. Mostly, it is the property owner’s responsibility to contact specialized cleaning services. They execute the clean up using specialized equipment like PPE gear, cleaning products, UV light sources for sanitizing and removing odor.
Does renter’s insurance include biohazard clean up?
Whether your insurance policy covers a biohazard clean up or not, really depends on the company and your specific insurance plan. Make sure you read the terms and conditions of the policy carefully before investing.
If you find that there is no mention of biohazard clean ups in the event of damage to property and personal belongings, you can ask your insurance agent for clarification. They might be able to suggest a different plan, or broaden the scope of the existing one.
Also, even if your insurance doesn’t cover a biohazard clean up, you may still be responsible for paying for any cleaning and restoration services, if you are found responsible for the accident. If you are in a situation involving an unfortunate incident in your apartment, it can feel overwhelming to take decisions, especially ones related to finances.
It is important to have a thorough discussion with professionals like insurance agents, your property owner, and specialized cleaning services, so that you do your due diligence and sail through the situation with the best possible plan of action.