Renters may not be required to have insurance by law, but a landlord may require a tenant to have at least a certain level of coverage in place before moving in. The tenant should read over the language of the lease document carefully before signing it to determine whether this is the case.
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In a situation where the landlord does require this coverage, you can choose to comply or look elsewhere for a place to live. However, having renters insurance is in your best interest.
Landlord’s Property Insurance
A landlord is required to have home insurance in place on the property, but this is meant to protect the structure of the building. The liability portion of the policy only applies to injuries that a visitor sustains while in the common areas of the property. If the building is damaged due to a fire, or a flood or hurricane (if the landlord has a policy covering these perils), the insurance company will pay to replace or rebuild as necessary. The contents of the individual units of the building are not covered. The landlord’s insurance policy also comes into play if a tenant is the victim of a crime or a disaster and makes a claim against the landlord for damages.
Landlords may require their tenants to have renters insurance in place for financial reasons. The landlord’s property insurance company may be prepared to offer the landlord better rates for coverage if all the tenants have their own contents insurance coverage in place. In that case, the landlord will request proof of insurance from each tenant and submit this information to the company issuing the property insurance coverage.
Renters Insurance Coverage
Renters insurance protects the tenant’s possessions against loss due to fire, theft and other perils. Depending on the type of policy purchased, the insurer will pay out based on either the cash or replacement value of the items that were damaged or destroyed.
Actual Cash Value- If you choose a policy that will pay out based on the cash value of the policy, the insurance company will base its assessment of the claim on how much your clothing, furniture, household items, jewelry and electronics are worth now. Over time, the value of these items depreciates, and if you decide to save money by going with a policy that pays out on this basis, be warned that you may find it difficult to refurnish your home after a loss based on the benefit you receive from your insurer.
Replacement Cost Value- The other coverage option available when you are looking for renters insurance is to buy a policy that will pay out according to the replacement value of your belongings. This is more expensive, but provides a tenant with a higher level of protection. After a loss, the tenant will be compensated based on how much it will cost to replace the items that were damaged or destroyed. You will find it much easier to get your home back to the condition you were in before the loss, which is why people buy insurance coverage in the first place.
Shopping for Renters Insurance Coverage
When you are looking for tenants insurance, it pays to shop around. Pricing and coverage options vary, depending on the insurance company involved. Spending a bit of time contacting different insurance companies can help you save on the cost of your insurance coverage. Expect rates to range from $14 to $20 per month. Some other money saving tips include:
- Ask about discounts that may be available to you. If your unit is equipped with a smoke detector or if you have a security system in place, it may mean a break on pricing for you.
- Raise your deductible if you want to save money on your premium costs. This is the amount you agree to pay out of pocket before your insurance company will pay out on a loss. The higher the deductible, the lower your premium will be.
- Go online to check out different providers and get an idea of the level of customer service they provide. This is an important consideration when you are looking for renters insurance, or any other type of coverage. Ideally, you want to find a company that is prepared to answer your questions promptly and that will make an effort to settle your claim quickly and fairly.
Renters are not legally required to have insurance coverage in place, but it’s a good idea for them to do so. The landlord may insist that they have this protection before moving in, and paying a relatively small amount for insurance premiums is a better choice than trying to replace the contents of your home personally.
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