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5 Things You Need to Know About Renters Insurance

I bought a renters insurance policy when I moved into my first apartment after college, and I've since become a sort of evangelist for the cause. It's so cheap and easy to protect all of your belongings from theft, fire, and water damage, yet even most of the long-term renters I know still don't have insurance. (Note: Policies do not cover natural disasters like earthquakes.)

Even if your most prized possessions seem frivolous — a $400 pair of shoes, a snow globe collection —that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have them replaced. Learn the five things you need to know about renters insurance after the jump.

  1. Getting a policy is incredibly easy. You can go online to obtain quotes from most providers, including State Farm, AAA, and Geico, then follow up with an in-person meeting to do the paperwork. The whole thing takes less than an hour.
  2. It's also incredibly cheap: if you're a single or cohabitating apartment-dweller, your rate will probably be between $200 and $350 a year. That's about $30 a month or less.
  3. A policy insures your stuff, not your place. If your landlord has insurance on the building, it won't do you any good if you lose your possessions in a fire. But since it's not tied to a specific apartment, it's easy to transfer the policy when you move.
  4. There are two ways to get reimbursed. You can opt for actual cash value coverage, which pays out according to the current value of the lost items, or replacement cost coverage, which considers how much it would cost to replace all of your possessions if you bought them brand new.
  5. Use photos to itemize. A renters policy isn't itemized; it covers a lump sum based on the estimated worth of your possessions. So you should also take photos of the items covered by your policy and keep them somewhere safe besides your house. That way, if something does happen, you’ll have proof to show the insurance company.

Do you have renter's insurance? Share your insights below.

Join The Conversation
moonlissa moonlissa 7 years
I second USAA. Years ago I had made one $20 payment on my renter's insurance. My bike was stolen, and they paid the $300 replacement cost. They have covered the cost of lost food during hurricanes on more than one occasion, and it covers the cost of the hotel during those mandatory evacuations. I bank through them too. I can deposit checks through the iphone app by taking a picture of the check. So easy. I can't say enough good about USAA!
Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
If you're an active or veteran military officer (or the spouse or child of one), I got one word for you: USAA. I cannot tell you how often USAA has come through for us. It's not exactly the cheapest insurance for either auto, home, life or renter's, but it is considered the best company in the US. I don't remember how much ours covers, but it's covered anything that's happened to us here in the states and overseas. Also, renter's insurance will not always cover items if you lose/damage them overseas so you need to read everything. Because USAA is an insurance company for the military, the coverage extends overseas. I'm not actually sure if any other company does that.
kismekate kismekate 7 years
I live on the first floor and a pipe burst and ruined all of my belongings (6,000 worth) -- THANK GOD i had renters insurance!! If I didn't have it, I would have lost everything. They also put me up in a hotel and paid for all of my meals while I was out of my condo for a month and a half! It is totally worth the extra 15 a month!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I'm glad you wrote this post! I'm such an advocate of renters' insurance; I honestly don't understand why anyone would ever go without it. And I want to echo bookgirl's advice: it pays to put high-ticket items, like an engagement ring, on a separate rider. It's relatively inexpensive to add them on and you can typically get a rider with no deductible. I also want to echo what everyone said about contacting your auto insurer; you will likely be able to get a multi-line discount. I don't even have a car (so no auto insurance), but I have a life insurance policy, so I was still able to get the multi-line discount.
khameel khameel 7 years
Thanks for this. I just moved into a new place and have been meaning to look into an insurance policy!
Vanonymous Vanonymous 7 years
I agree that you should call your auto insurer. For me, my auto insurance went down when I also got renter's insurance making it pretty much the same exact cost for both as it would have been for just auto.
weffie weffie 7 years
Oh shit I was supposed to send my renewal payment today, great timing!
Happsmjc Happsmjc 7 years
Yes DO IT! My friends apartment burned down and her insurance replaced everything! I'm not going to say it wasn't time consuming, but without it she would have had NOTHING!!
CurleyQ CurleyQ 7 years
I actually got a 10% discount on my auto insurance because I signed up for renters insurance. Its costing me $8 a month. You never know when you'll need it.
nlw nlw 9 years
Renter's insurance is also good in case your vehicle is ever broken into and you have property stolen bc personal property in a vehicle isn't covered under the auto policy.
trala1 trala1 9 years
I know, I know
bizzybee bizzybee 9 years
I've been meaning to get a policy for my place. This post has reminded me to get it taken care of.
chancleta chancleta 9 years
i just got it with all state and was amazed how dirty cheap it is!
itsallabouttheg itsallabouttheg 9 years
this will have to wait until i get a real job.
rlveronica rlveronica 9 years
Yup! My mom told me to do it and it only cost me $100 a year. Pretty cool and smart! Hehe.
MissLee82 MissLee82 9 years
My sister was living in Chico going to school and getting her renter's insurance never crossed out mind. Then in January her house burnt down and her & all of roommates lost everything!! It was so difficult to recoup everything that she lost (school bocks, laptop, etc.). We will never go without again.
pinkkiwii84 pinkkiwii84 9 years
The new apartment I just moved into requires that you have renter's insurance. I thought it was going to be expensive but it's only $20 a month for $20,000 of coverage. It's something every renter should have.
c0rkie c0rkie 9 years
thanks for the info! :D
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Great advice! And definitely agree with the last tip. Make sure you have totally documented your ownership of important or valuable items. When I had all my jewelry stolen, I had to dig through *years* of pictures in the hopes of finding some where I happened to be wearing the pieces.
Stacey-Cakes Stacey-Cakes 9 years
If you go with Allstate you can do the whole thing on-line (with no follow-up meeting) and it took me and my boyfriend about 10 minutes to fill out the application. In San Diego where I lived, the policy cost $125 for the entire year (about $.30 a day) and protected up to $40,000 of stuff.
alibella alibella 9 years
hmmm, my dad made me get it the first year i moved out and I let it expire, but you guys are making me second guess that decision.
rubialala rubialala 9 years
This is SO important, every renter should have this.
kristyrk kristyrk 9 years
I have renters insurance and luckily I found out that my policy doesn't cover earthquake damage! (living in San Francisco, its kind of a nesessity for me) So I made sure to add it on and its still only $22.00 a month! It really is a good thing to have.
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