Understanding Renters Insurance

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Understanding Renters Insurance

Staff Writer · Sep 18, 2009

Renters insurance protects your personal property when you live in an apartment or other rentals. You alone are responsible for anything that happens to your belongings, not your landlord. Here are some basics to review to help you understand renters insurance:

Property Insurance vs. Renters Insurance

Your landlord has insurance on your apartment that will cover the structure and everything else attached the rental, but not your personal items. For example, if there’s a fire, your landlord will have insurance to replace the damages to your apartment and maybe all of the appliances inside. However, you’re on your own when it comes to your computer or dining room set. Renters insurance is what you need to cover damages to your personal property.

Stolen Property

Theft is the fact of life in too many apartment buildings or rental neighborhoods. Renters insurance covers you if your items get stolen. You file an insurance claim with your policy holder, provide them with proof (sometimes) of the items you owned, such as receipts, and they’ll pay you the value of the items as spelled out in your policy. Although it’s harder to recover emotionally when someone robs you, at least you’ll recover financially.

Water Damage

Another fact of life for renters is water damage if you’re in a two or more unit dwelling. Common problems include a tub overflowing and leaking into a downstairs neighbor’s apartment, or a clogged toilet sending water your neighbor’s way. Renters insurance covers you because it offers liability protection as well. If your neighbor or the landlord wants you to pay for any water damage you cause, you can rely for the most part on your insurance. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a financial storm.

Insurance Claim

If you need money from your insurer for personal property that was damaged or stolen, you can file an insurance claim. A claim is your formal request for payment. You’ll have to fill out paperwork describing the circumstances, and may be required to provide proof of purchase of some or all of the items that you’re seeking payment for.

Insurance Quotes

There are many places to find free quotes for renters insurance online. You can start at www.Geico.com and then find other sites to compare rates. You may be asked for your name, mailing and email addresses. Therefore, you need to be careful where you submit your information to get a quote. Only use reputable companies, and check the Better Business Bureau if you’re not sure about a company or website.

Insurance Amount

You need enough insurance to at least replace your personal property. One way to estimate how much you need is to take an inventory of what you own. Make a list of what’s worth keeping, list the market value and total your costs. Your policy should already include liability protection. If you don’t feel your things are worth much, or if you’re not sure how much insurance you need, start with a $15,000 policy. You’ll be amazed how much you may accumulate over the course of your lease agreement.

As you can see, not having renters insurance is very risky. It may take you many years to get your money back if you suffer damages, or worse, get sued.

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