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Did you know that almost two-thirds of residential lessees in the United States don’t carry renters insurance according to the Independent Insurance Adjusters & Brokers of America (IIABA)? A renters policy is more important, accessible, and affordable than you might think. But renters are often unclear about what renters insurance is and what it covers.
Here are the top 5 myths—and the facts—about renters insurance:

  1. The landlord’s insurance covers your possessions. Don’t count on it. Most landlords’ insurance covers only the building and damages due to negligence. Coverage for some of the most common causes of property damage and loss, such as theft, vandalism, and fire, is entirely up to you. Without renters insurance, you may have to bear the financial burden of a loss on your own.
  2. Renters insurance is expensive. In this case, the numbers speak for themselves. According to the IIABA, the average renters policy costs just $12 a month for up to $30,000 in personal property coverage. That’s solid coverage for less than the cost of a couple of cups of coffee a week.
  3. You don’t need insurance if your stuff isn’t expensive. Most renters’ belongings cost more than they think. In fact, the average person has over $20,000 worth of belongings that are probably not covered by a landlord’s policy.
  4. Renters insurance covers only your possessions. In fact, renters insurance covers much more than just your personal property: The average policy also includes up to $100,000 in liability coverage. That means in the event of a covered loss your insurer will help cover the costs if you’re held responsible for injuring another person or damaging another person’s property, including your landlord’s. Moreover, this coverage applies whether the incident occurred within your residence or elsewhere.
  5. Renters insurance is hard to get. You can place a quick call with our agency. Answer a few questions and we’ll get you an instant rate quote.

If you’re buying renters insurance for the first time, here’s good news: Protecting your belongings generally costs less than protecting other assets like your car. Plus, there are ways to lower the price of your renters policy even more.  Here are four ways to save on your renters premium:
1. Consider a higher deductible.
Choosing a higher deductible—the amount you pay out of pocket when you have a renters insurance claim—could save you up to 25 percent (with a $1,000 deductible).
2. Bundle, if you can.
Consider buying your renters policy from your auto insurance company, if it’s an option. Many insurance companies will discount property insurance for their auto customers.
3. Maintain good credit.
Most personal insurance companies will do some sort of credit check in the calculation of your premium.   Better the credit, the lower your rate. Paying bills on time, only having as much credit as you need and keeping low balances all contribute to good credit.
4. Consider replacement coverage.
Although choosing replacement coverage might not save you money upfront, it could save you big if your belongings are ever damaged beyond repair. Here’s why: With replacement coverage, your insurer will pay to replace your belongings instead of just paying you their current value.

For renters insurance, finding the right coverage balance means choosing accurate, appropriate limits for your personal property and liability coverage.  Here are some tips to help you in this process:

Inventory Your Possessions

Personal property coverage is probably the main reason you purchase a renters policy. The coverage will reimburse you for damage, loss, or theft of your personal possessions up to a certain dollar amount, so you’ll want to make sure you get that amount right.
Performing a home inventory is a good way to determine how much property coverage you need. This inventory lists your personal possessions, along with details about their age, purchase price or current value, and other identifying information. Document the items with receipts when possible. When you’ve completed the list, total the amounts to determine your coverage value. (You’ll also want to put a copy of the list in a safe place, in case you need it to support a claim.)

Assess Your Liability

Your renters policy’s liability coverage protects you if someone injures themselves in your home. It also protects you in case you or a family member causes damage to others’ property. Some policies will pay for defense and court costs, in addition to settlement costs. The typical renters insurance policy offers $100,000 in liability coverage. For renters, this amount is often sufficient.

Add Coverage If Necessary

Keep in mind that your policy will exclude certain perils (such as earthquake and flood losses) and limit coverage on some items (such as computers, firearms, and silverware). If you have special insurance needs, give our office a call to find out more.

If you rent a house or apartment, your landlord’s insurance will only cover the costs of repairing the building if there is a fire or other disaster.  There is no coverage provided to protect your personal property or negligence.  You need your own coverage, known as renters or tenants insurance in order to financially protect yourself and your belongings.

Renters insurance includes three important types of financial protection:
  • Coverage for Personal Possessions
  • Liability Protection
  • Additional Living Expenses

The following is a brief overview of what renter’s insurance is and how it can protect you.

A. Coverage for Personal Possessions
  1. Determining a limit.  The first step to insuring your personal possessions is to determine an appropriate limit to replace everything in the even of a total loss due a fire or other covered calamity.  The quickest way to do this is by preforming a home inventory.  A home inventory will provide a detailed list of all your belongings and associated value.
  2. Type of coverage. There are two types of coverages available on a standard policy: replacement cost and actual cash value.  Replacement cost pays for the cost to replace your property with like kind and quantity.  Actual cash value pays to replace your possessions minus a deduction for depreciation.
  3. What disasters are covered?  A standard renters insurance covers you against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and certain types of water damage (such as when the tenant upstairs leaves the water running in the bathtub and floods out your apartment or a burst pipe).  Every policy will have a variety of exclusions with the two most prevalent being flood and earthquake.
  4. What is a “floater” and do I need one? If you have expensive jewelry, furs, sports or musical equipment, or expensive electronics like a laptop, consider adding a floater to your policy. Most standard renters policies offer only a limited dollar amount for such items; a floater is a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them if they are accidentally lost. .
B. Liability Protection
  1. Determining a limit. Liability coverage protects you against bodily injury or property damage caused to others due to your negligence. It pays for both the cost of defending you in court and court awards—up to the limit of your policy. Most standard renters insurance policies will generally provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage, but additional amounts are available.
  2. What about an umbrella?  If you need a higher liability limit, you can purchase a personal umbrella liability policy. An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage provided by your renters or auto policy.  To purchase an umbrella policy, most insurance companies will require higher limits of liability on both your home and auto insurance.
C. Additional Living Expenses
  1. What happens if I can’t live in my home due to a disaster?   If your home is destroyed by a covered claim and you need to live elsewhere, renters insurance provides additional living expenses (ALE).   ALE pays for hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses you incur while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
D. Discounts
Insurance companies often offer discounts on renters insurance if you have another policy with them for your car or business. You can also get discounts if you:
  • Have a security system
  • Use smoke detectors
  • Use deadbolt locks
  • Have good credit
  • Have multiple policies
  • Stay with the same insurer
  • Are over 55 years old
If you would like to find out more about a renters insurance policy and how it can protect you and your family, please feel free to give our office a call.