Renter’s insurance is something a lot of people don’t think about – especially young people renting their first apartment.
You may feel as if you have nothing worth insuring at this point in your life.
However, there are many reasons why you should get renters’ insurance:
1. Your landlord requires it. More and more landlords are requiring that tenants get renters’ insurance as a condition of the lease. Generally, your landlord will require a minimum amount of liability insurance. Also, you will probably have to name your landlord as additional insured.
2. Your landlord’s liability ends at your apartment door. Maintenance personnel are covered by worker’s comp, but if you host a party and one of your friends trips and falls into your glass coffee table you may be liable. If so, renters’ insurance can help mitigate the risk you took on when you rented a property. It will also help you if you accidentally cause an injury. If you have a dog, it is even more important to have liability coverage, even if you think your dog would never bite anyone. This coverage extends even if you are outside your home (unless you are driving, in which case your auto insurance policy comes into play).
3. You have stuff. You may not have a lot of stuff yet – which is one reason why young people may prefer to avoid the extra expense. However, if you have anything you could not afford to replace quickly, such as an expensive computer, your grandmother’s jewelry, even a bicycle, then insurance becomes worth it very quickly. Your landlord’s insurance policy does not cover theft or damage to personal property. Many policies also cover your stuff when you travel, for example if your laptop gets stolen from a hotel room.
4. If you get the right policy, it will cover you for “loss of use.” Which means that if something renders your apartment temporarily uninhabitable, your insurance will cover you for a hotel stay and extra expenses (such as having to go out to eat).
So, what should you do about it? First of all, you should get renters’ insurance. It is generally inexpensive. A basic policy will cost you $14-22 a month. You should get liability coverage of at least $100,000 (if your landlord requires a policy this is generally the minimum). Sometimes landlords may try to push their tenants towards a specific company. If so, the best option is still to comparison shop coverage and price with your agent.
If you have auto insurance, then talk to the same company, as they will probably offer you discounts for “bundling” policies together.
Tips to protect your personal property:
- Always lock the door when you leave. If you live in a ground floor apartment, keep windows and sliding doors locked unless you are at home.
- Avoid keeping jewelry in your bedroom. Instead, hide it in a desk drawer, bathroom door, etc. Thieves always look for jewelry in the bedroom first.
- Make an inventory list. For expensive items, keep the receipt if you have it and store it with the list. Take photos. This will help you if you have to make a claim.
- Tell a trusted neighbor when you are going out of town. If you live in an apartment complex, tell the building manager or concierge. Most managers are willing to have maintenance keep an eye on your apartment while you are away.
- Stop mail and newspaper delivery when away so thieves cannot tell your apartment is unoccupied.
You may not think you need renters’ insurance – at least until you have accumulated more stuff – but the liability coverage alone is well worth the small amount it costs per month. Renters’ insurance costs about as much as one restaurant meal a month, so there is no reason not to get it. Talk with your agent about your needs.
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