If you’re like many apartment-dwelling recent college grads and almost 60 million other people in the United States, you don’t have renter’s insurance, according to a 2003 survey conducted by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. You may think you don’t need it, you can’t afford it, or it’s not worth the cost — and that could end up being an expensive mistake.
The 5 Biggest Myths About Renter’s Insurance
1) My landlord’s got it covered.
You might be under the impression that if anything happens to your belongings due to something beyond your control like a natural disaster, a fire, or a blown water pipe, the person or management company who owns your building will reimburse you.
Reality check: No, they won’t. Your landlord’s property insurance will usually only cover structural damage to the building itself and won’t apply to your plasma TV, DVD collection, or any of your other prized possessions that got pulverized in the process.
Oh, and if someone gets hurt in your apartment, even if it’s just an accident and not your fault, that’s on you too, not your landlord.
2) I can’t afford it.
Most renter’s policies are way more affordable than you think. Just $20 to $40 a month could buy you $30,000 to $75,000 in property coverage and $100,000 in liability coverage. Your monthly premium will depend on things like your deductible and coverage, where you live, and whether or not you have an alarm system.
3) I don’t need it.
Even if you live a pretty low-key lifestyle and don’t own any pricey electronics, high-end furniture, or a library of rare books, your things, when you add them all up, are probably worth a lot more than you think.
Imagine if a fire burned your place down. Starting over from scratch and having to replace even just the basics — an entire wardrobe, dishes, a microwave, a futon or mattress, a basic laptop — could run you a few grand, not to mention the costs of finding a place to stay in the meantime. Kinda makes the $120 a year seem worth it.
4) I live in a good area.
Crime just doesn’t happen where you live … at least that’s what you tell yourself. But all it takes is for someone to break in and drive away with all your stuff just once to make it painfully obvious how easy it would’ve been to have had renter’s insurance. Besides, areas change, and petty crime can affect even the best neighborhoods.
5) Nobody’s going to sue me.
We hope you’re right. But in a country where a judge sues a drycleaner for $67 million over a missing pair of pants, you never know. What if a guest slips on your rug, falls, and breaks a collarbone? What if you fall asleep with the bath running, and the water leaks through the floor and damages your downstairs neighbor’s place? What if your dog bites the FedEx delivery driver?
In all three of those cases, you’d be liable, which means that if your guest’s, neighbor’s, or FedEx driver’s lawyer came after you, your assets would pretty much be up for grabs. And your liability wouldn’t just be limited to what you own: Your wages could be garnished in a settlement, leaving you with a significantly reduced income. A renter’s policy could have prevented that.
Putting Together Your Policy
To help you figure out what kind of coverage you need, here are a few articles that break down your coverage options, answer commonly asked questions, and offer some good advice on how to get the best policy and save money in the process:
Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, these sites can help you get multiple quotes on a renter’s policy, so you can shop around for the best deal:
- eRenterPlan allows you to get quotes based on your zip code and offers preapproved policies from several different insurers for specific apartment communities.
- NetQuote, despite its name, won’t quote you any specific numbers; instead, it sends you an e-mail with contact information for agents from companies like Allstate, State Farm, Farmers, and American Family that want to insure you. You’ll have to complete a more in-depth application than on the other two sites, but NetQuote gets back to you quickly.