Renters: ‘We Were Taken Care of’ After Apartment Flooded

By Benjamin Olivo

When massive flooding devastated the Texas Hill Country in 2015, Boerne residents Pauly and Linda Tamez were among the victims despite their apartment being outside the flood plain.

Runoff from a flooded septic system nearby made its way to the apartment, where they were staying while their house was being built in Boerne. The overflow rose 10 inches inside the apartment, ruining furniture, clothes and linens.

The smell was horrible,” Pauly Tamez says. “So the very first night of the flooding we were displaced.”

That’s when the their renters insurance kicked in. USAA’s basic package automatically includes damage caused by flooding.

In a very short time, we were made whole,” Pauly Tamez remembers. “We could not stay in that apartment because of the damage that was done. So we wound up breaking our lease. We stayed in a hotel for a week.”

Their neighbors at the apartment were also hit, but they had renters insurance with another company that didn’t cover flood damage.

Tamez estimates that USAA’s renters insurance covered close to $16,000 in damages and living expenses — costs such as replacing possessions, cleaning clothes and paying for a hotel and meals while they were displaced.

It was a lot easier to go through it knowing that we were taken care of,” Linda Tamez says.

Pauly Tamez says he’s had insurance with USAA since 1975, eight years before he and Linda got married. When they moved into the apartment while their home was being built, Tamez called USAA to talk about renters insurance.

“It was so inexpensive that it just made sense. I never thought we would use the flood part because we were 67 feet away from the flood plain,” he says.

A USAA renters policy covers 17 types of losses — with earthquakes, hail, theft and vandalism being just a few — says Lisa Gaudi, a product management director. The policy also covers living expenses, like in the Tamezes’ case, she says.

“That gives you the ability to go out and rent another apartment or stay in a hotel until the damage can be fixed,” Gaudi says.

The policy also offers worldwide protection for belongings. If a policyholder’s laptop is stolen from the back seat of a car, or from a hotel room, renters insurance covers that.

It also pays the total replacement cost for damaged items. If a member has a 5-year-old laptop, it might not be worth much now. But if it’s damaged, a USAA policy is going to pay the full cost to repair or replace it, not the depreciated value. 

“The same goes for a leather couch,” Gaudi says. “If you had a leather couch, then we’re not going to depreciate for that. We’re going to give you what it costs for a new leather couch.”

Get your sports gear, musical instruments and more covered by USAA renters insurance for as little as $12 a month.

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Renters insurance provided by United Services Automobile Association, USAA Casualty Insurance Company, USAA General Indemnity Company, Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and USAA Ltd. (Europe), San Antonio, TX, and is available only to persons eligible for P&C group membership. Each company has sole financial responsibility for its own products.