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UPDATED: Oct 23, 2020
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Should you buy renters insurance? Consider this example of “Sarah” who bucked the common and incorrect line of thinking which assumes that just because someone rents they are not responsible for apartment damage due to smoke, fire, theft, etc.
Sarah had been a renter for over a decade when all those years of paying renters insurance premiums paid off. Her claim was the result of a fire that began in the apartment above, causing thousands of dollars of smoke and water damage to her five-room dwelling. Since her policy covered the cost of replacing all damaged items instead of the offering the actual cash value (ACV) based on the original cost of the items and any depreciation that has occurred she was quickly able to move back into a clean, dry and fully appointed apartment. Her wallet was a bit lighter after she paid the deductible, but that was nothing compared to what she would have spent if she had not protected herself with renters insurance.
Just because someone rents an apartment does not mean that they will not potentially be held responsible to pay for damages to the apartment due to fire, smoke, theft, etc. Enter your zip code in above to start comparing free renters insurance quotes online now!
How to Protect Yourself with Renters Insurance
A lot could have gone wrong in the above scenario if Sarah had not recognized the importance of a carefully researched renters insurance policy. The first thing she had going for her was the fact that she had renters insurance at all. The second was that her policy, for which she paid a slightly higher premium, ensured that she received the replacement cost for all damaged items instead of the ACV, which would not have come close to covering the costs of everything she needed to buy to resupply and re-furnish her apartment.
She also chose the highest deductible that she could comfortably afford in the event of damage to her apartment. The higher deductible meant lower annual premiums, and less money being spent on insurance each year was more money she could add to the savings account that would fund the deductible if needed.
By investigating different renters insurance providers and their pricing she used an online quote comparison tool that made it easy. Sarah was able to protect her property and reduce her liability through a policy that was made just for her. Here’s how you can gain the same sense of security through renters insurance.
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Find Out What is Covered with Renters Insurance
Renters insurance, often referred to as HO-4 (a subset of Homeowners Insurance), is personal property and liability protection for renters. Insurance for the home or apartment building itself, as well as the land it occupies, is taken on by the landlord. Renters insurance policies may cover a host of damages caused by the following:
- Wind Damage
- Public Riots
- Aircraft (damage caused by airplanes, helicopters, etc.)
- Vehicles (damage caused by cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.)
- Malicious Mischief
- Volcanic Eruption
- Falling Objects
- Damage from Ice, Snow, or Sleet that is weight related
- Water related damage from home appliances
- Damage that results from an electrical surge
The most basic renters insurance policies will cover only the first six or so examples on the list, while the most extensive will cover them all.
Most renters insurance policies do not cover floods or earthquakes. If you live in an area where either of these dangers is a significant threat, you may have the option to purchase a rider. If not, you will need a separate flood insurance policy or separate earthquake insurance policy.
Be sure to have a complete understanding of what your renters insurance policy covers before you sign on the dotted line.
Figure Out How Much You Need
In order to figure out the amount of renters insurance coverage you need, you will need to know how much your possessions are worth. Figuring this out will be a laborious, but worthwhile, task. If you buy more insurance than you need, you will be wasting money with each year’s premium. If you buy less insurance than you need, you will be digging deep into your own pockets in the event of a disaster.
To account for your personal property, make a list of each item along with its purchase price or its current value. The sum of all these items will give you a general idea of how much you will need to spend to replace everything in a catastrophic event such as a fire. If you know how much these items cost to replace, that will give you an even better idea of what you will be up against if you have to file a claim. Taking photographs or video of your property is also beneficial.
Be aware that some items are associated with a dollar limit in many policies. Examples include bank notes, coins, and securities, boats, trailers, jewelry, and guns. Taking careful inventory of your belongings before you choose your renters insurance policy will help you find one that has the highest dollar limit, or no limit at all, on your big-ticket items. Some of the most valuable items may need their own rider, however. A diamond engagement ring is a common example of an item that often needs to be insured on its own. Be sure to keep all documentation, including inventory lists, in an off-site, fire-proof safe or safety deposit box.
Protect Yourself from Liability
A common feature of renters insurance is liability coverage. This is the protection that comes in handy if someone is injured on your property. It can fund legal fees and damages awarded to the other party up to the amount specified in your policy. The average renters insurance policyholder has a liability limit of $100,000, though talking heads from the financial planning and law sectors advise consumers to purchase policies with a $300,000 limit for better protection against lawsuits.
Keeping Costs Down While Ensuring Optimal Coverage
Besides choosing the highest deductible you can afford to pay when making a claim, there are several ways you can save money on your renters insurance premiums. Certain safety mechanisms you may already have in place can reduce your renters insurance costs. Employing fire or burglar alarm technology is one way; having fire extinguishers on hand is another. If your home or apartment has a sprinkler system, that will afford you savings as well. Deadbolts on all exterior doors will provide you an extra feeling of security and will leave you with extra money in your pocket through reduced premiums.
One factor that could raise your premiums is the presence of a dog. There are many large-breed working dogs that will increase your renters insurance costs due to their ability to cause injury in the event of an attack. Some insurance companies will refuse to cover any households in possession of these dogs. This does not mean such dogs are more likely to bite; what it means is that the injuries inflicted if they do are likely to be more severe. The list includes:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Chow Chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- German shepherds
- American Pit Bull Terriers
- Presa Canarios
- Siberian Huskies
- Wolf Hybrids
If you have any dogs on this list, it is wise to shop around for a policy that will cover you at the most reasonable price. If you do not disclose the exact breed, you are setting yourself up for complete liability if your canine attacks a human or other animal.
Compare Renters Insurance Quotes for the Best Rates
Now that you have a general understanding of renters insurance, you can use this information when comparing renters insurance quotes online. Our comprehensive insurance quote comparison tools allow you to evaluate the pros and cons of several policies, one against the other.
Typing in general information about your background and needs will result in a clear and straightforward summation of what a host of renters insurance providers can offer you. Choose the one that best represents your desired level of coverage at your desired price, and you will be ready to sit back and relax in the comfort of your home, confident that you will be protected when the need arises.
Why not start comparing free renters insurance quotes online now?