“You can get renters insurance for the same price as a large pizza per month. Click here to get a quote.”
At first, I was in complete disbelief when I started my google hunt for how much it would cost to protect my apartment from a natural disaster or a sneaky thieving neighbor. After hearing about one of my friend’s turmoil in New York City dealing with water damage from the fire department attempting to put out an apartment fire above her (a faulty socket caused the window A/C unit to catch ablaze), I knew it was time to take my own housing situation more seriously. Homegirl was displaced for weeks, lost some of her belongings and had to deal with some funky legal issues that almost cost her thousands of dollars in security deposits.
A large pizza per month is only at max (depending on the bougieness of your taste buds) $15. Surely it costs more than that to protect your valuables and possessions from potential disasters, right? Wrong! Renters insurance, like many other precautionary measures, is often overlooked until there is an emergency. To prevent the “Darn, I should have gotten that renters insurance” thought after your apartment catches on fire from the flat-iron you forgot to unplug, it’s important to understand the basics and how to stay protected.
Renters insurance refers to the policy that protects your belongings and possessions in the event of fire, theft, flooding or any other major emergency or accident in your home. It is very important that before you move into an apartment or relocate somewhere new, you research the area you’re living in and the likelihood of any of these events happening. You should never assume that your landlord or property management’s insurance covers your apartment. It doesn’t. Their insurance covers the building and (surprise surprise) the property. You need to cover the actual apartment and everything within it.
You also want to be keen on who your neighbors are. Is the building going to ruin because of tenants’ neglect? Is trash or sharp items left out haphazardly in the hallways? Do your neighbors appear to care about the cleanliness of the environment as a whole? If you get the sense that the people you live around are constantly allowing their smoke alarms to blare when they cook, then you should strongly consider protecting yourself from being a possible victim with renters insurance.
First things first, go insurance shopping like you would shop for anything else. You wouldn’t settle for any old basic car insurance, so why settle for basic renters insurance? Some key questions that should be asked are: What does this insurance cover? If the agent or company in question cannot explain this to you as simply as possible, start looking elsewhere. The more items that are covered under the policy, the better the policy.
Additional questions to consider: what type of policies does the company offer? Do you get covered for the original or actual value of your items at the time of damage or theft? In regards to a replacement cost policy, which is what most companies offer lately, will they actually pay what it costs to replace the items lost or damaged? Does it cover everything from your $5.99 silverware set you got on sale at Target to your $2,000 entertainment system setup, piece by piece, that you purchased from Ikea? If there is no replacement cost policy, you’re better off continuing your search.
Also, find out under what conditions would your items NOT be covered. For example, most computer and electronic items are covered, but if you primarily work from home, it may not be. That’s where additional coverage should come into play.
One of the more important questions can also be who does my policy cover? If you and bae are shacking up you have a roommate that you live with, normally you’ll be covered but your suitemate might not. Most policies can cover two roommates but you’d need to explore the costs with your roomie. Keep in mind the importance of maintaining a great working relationship in your living environment, because if the damages come, then the check comes in both of your names. If you aren’t still living together, you’ll want to be able to be amicable about signing and splitting, cashing or depositing the check. To be on the safe side though, get separate renters insurance policies if possible.
Is your dog Woofy covered? Depends on what Woofy does. If he bites someone inside or outside of the apartment the liability coverage normally handles it, however if Woofy is considered an aggressive breed, he may not be covered.
If you live in a major metropolitan area, you definitely need renters insurance. Since there are more open spaces, more likelihood of major crimes, disasters or emergencies (hate to sound gloomy, but the truth never really hurt anyone) and more people, the need to protect your belongings is higher. Policies may be a bit more expensive, but they may cover a lot more. Always remember that your deductible (the amount you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket) determines the monthly payments. Higher deductible, lower payment per month. Lower deductible, higher payment per month. Most banks and car insurance companies also provide renters insurance, so if car and renters insurance can be bundled for a lower price, that may be a great advantage. Costs of deductibles go up yearly, and prices and value of items significantly decrease, so locking in a great rate as soon as possible is ideal. Paying $200 a year to protect over $10,000 worth of possessions is a great deal.
Not all insurance policies are created equally. Some will cover living expenses if you’ve been forced to move while damages are being repaired. If that house party you threw was a little too lit and your bestie was severely hurt, many policies include medical expense coverage. If the apartment above you has a water leak, or the water from your apartment is leaking to the one below, rental insurance covers that as well. Lost luggage? Covered. Dry cleaner accident? I don’t know how, but covered. No question is a stupid question when it comes to your safety and property, so make sure to ask them all and stay protected at all costs. Renters insurance should be the least of your worries, so start researching now to be at ease later.