A 2020 survey by the Insurance Information Institute found that while 84-92 percent of homeowners had homeowner’s insurance, only 37 percent of renters had renter’s insurance, leaving over 60 percent of renters without even basic protection for their belongings. It’s common for renters to believe they don’t need coverage, especially if they believe their belongings have little value.
What exactly is renter’s insurance and how does it work? Renter’s insurance covers a renter’s personal property when something unexpected happens. Consider how much it would cost to completely replace everything you own. Everything in your apartment home adds up and will cost more to replace than you might think, consider cooking supplies, small appliances, clothes, a personal computer, and more.
As Loetta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute observes, “Many people who rent don’t think they need renters insurance because they either think that their landlord’s insurance takes care of their personal possessions, or they think they don’t have a lot of 'stuff' so they don’t purchase coverage.” Not having coverage when you need it, however, can have devastating financial consequences. If you rent and currently don’t have coverage, consider these five reasons you should get it.
1. Your landlord’s insurance does not cover your belongings, and it would be expensive to replace everything.
Even if your things are not fancy or expensive, imagine how much it would cost to replace all of it – furniture, cookware, clothing, bedding, towels, electronics – everything. Smoke or water infiltration, for example, can cause catastrophic damage not only to the building, but also to your belongings. Renter’s insurance covers items lost to fire, smoke, theft, some types of water damage, and more.
Everyone is susceptible to liability claims, whether they own or rent their homes. If someone is injured in your home, for example, you may be held liable for their medical expenses. If you accidentally leave a burner on in the kitchen and start a fire in your apartment building, you could be liable for much, much more. Like homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance provides coverage for such claims.
2. Your belongings are also covered away from home.
Even if your belongings are stolen or damaged outside of your home, your renter’s insurance will likely still cover the loss. Whether you’re at a neighbor’s apartment or traveling, you could still get coverage for your stolen laptop.
3. Renter’s insurance helps you if you’re displaced.
If your apartment building or the rental house burns down or the roof collapses, the damage to the structure is the landlord’s problem, but not being able to live in it is yours. In the event that you are unable to live in your home, the renter’s insurance will cover the cost of living in a comparable dwelling for a period of time. You may also be able to recover other expenses that result from your temporary displacements, such as food or transportation.
4. Provision for the repair or replacement of items damaged due to natural disasters.
Everyone is susceptible to natural disasters and your landlord is responsible for the cost of repairs for any damage to the structure of the property, but you could be responsible for restoring or replacing your damaged personal belongings inside of your apartment home.
5. Renter’s insurance is very affordable.
Many renters believe they simply don’t have the money in their budgets to allocate to renter’s insurance. The fact is, however, that it typically costs under $15 per month, depending on the coverage chosen. And the average of an annual renter’s insurance premium can be as low as $150. And as a customer, you can purchase the policy up to three months prior to needing it to be in effect. Talk through a variety of options or plans with your insurance company to find a plan that best fits your lifestyle and your belongings.
Before You Buy
It’s always important to educate yourself when shopping for insurance. Make sure you understand the terms of any policy you’re considering. Find the answers to questions such as,
- What are the coverage limits? What kind of things does your renters' insurance cover?
- What deductibles apply?
- Will it cover the replacement cost of your belongings or their current market value?
- Will a renters’ policy cover my roommate?
- Will owning a pet affect my renters’ coverage?
- What natural disasters are covered by the policy? (You may need to purchase an additional flood or hurricane rider, for example, if you live in areas prone to these events.)
- What is the extent of coverage for items located outside your home?
After you fully understand the coverage, you’ll want to take an inventory of the items in your home so you know (and can communicate to the insurance company) exactly what you’re insuring. The Insurance Information Institute offers a handy tool for this on their website, check it out!