Renters sometimes overlook the need for insurance based on the belief that they may not have a significant amount of personal possessions, or because the property is already insured by the owner.
While it is true that a rental property is insured by the owner, the destruction or loss of your personal belongings is not. But, that’s not the only risk renters need to worry about.
The typical renter’s insurance policy can cover your possessions against losses arising from fire, smoke, lightning, theft, vandalism, explosion, windstorm and water damage (excluding floods).
Even if you don’t believe that the value of your personal possessions warrants insurance protection (though you may think differently after an inventory of their value), renter’s insurance covers other potential risks that can adversely impact your finances.
Renter’s insurance is designed to cover damages and costs in the event that visitors are injured in your apartment or elsewhere by you, your pet or a family member living with you. This includes any legal defense expenses if you are taken to court.
A renter’s policy may also cover additional living expenses should you be unable to live in your apartment due to a covered peril, such as fire, though the policy may set limits on how much you will be reimbursed.
You should make sure you know whether a policy insures for actual cash value (pays to replace your possessions after reducing for depreciation) or for replacement cost (which pays the actual cost of replacing items, up to policy limits). In most cases, replacement cost coverage is the smarter option.
If you have any possessions of particularly high value such as art or jewelry, you may want to add a floater to the standard renter’s insurance policy.
If you are living with a roommate or domestic partner, you should inquire how the policy is expected to cover both parties as state regulations and insurance policies may vary.
Renter’s insurance is usually quite inexpensive, so if you are unsure whether to purchase a renter’s policy, talk to an insurance agent and obtain a quote. The low cost of protection may make a smart decision easier.