Renters Insurance: What you need to know

Kathryn PaviaGeneral Insurance Tips

The Importance of Renters Insurance

If you live in a rental home or apartment, chances are you don’t have the proper insurance. Nearly 60 percent of renters don’t have a renters policy. Advisors Insurance Agency is here to make sure you understand the importance of a Renters insurance policy.

Why does it matter?

Renters insurance policies cover your possessions, liability and additional living expenses.  “If you rent a house or apartment and think that your landlord is financially responsible when there is a fire, theft or other catastrophe—think again,” warns the Insurance Information Institute*. “Your landlord may have insurance to protect the building you are living in. But your landlord’s policy won’t replace your personal possessions or pay for your living expenses while the building is being repaired. The only way to protect yourself financially against disasters is to buy a renters insurance policy.”

Let’s take a look at these three types of protection covered under renters insurance:

Possessions

Standard renters insurance protects your personal belongings against damage from fire, smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, water and other disasters listed in the policy. Renters insurance does not cover floods and earthquakes.

To decide how much insurance to buy, you need to know the value of all your personal possessions. This includes furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, kitchen utensils and even towels and bedding. The easiest way to figure this out is to create a home inventory. A detailed list of all of your personal possessions and their estimated value will help if disaster strikes.

There are two types of renters insurance policies for your possessions:

  • Actual Cash Value: pays to replace your possessions minus an amount for depreciation (the reduction in the value of items due to age and use) up to the limit of your policy.
  • Replacement Cost: pays the full cost of replacing your possessions (with no deduction for depreciation), up to the limit of your policy. The price of Replacement Cost coverage is about 10 percent more than Actual Cash Value coverage, but can be well worth the additional cost.

Note that a standard renters insurance policy offers only limited coverage for items such as jewelry, silver, furs, etc. If you own property that exceeds these limits, most insurance agents recommend that you supplement your policy with a floater. A floater is a separate policy that provides additional insurance for your valuables and covers them for perils not included in your policy, such as accidental loss.

Liability

Standard renters insurance policies also provide liability protection in the event you or members of your family cause injury to others or damage their property.  It also pays for damage your pets cause.

If you are sued, the liability portion of a renters policy may pay for both the cost of defending you in court and for court awards, up to the limit of the policy. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Your policy may also provide No-Fault Medical coverage. In the event a visitor is injured in your home, regardless of fault, you can submit their medical bills directly to your insurance company. You can generally get $1,000 to $5,000 worth of this coverage. It does not however, pay medical bills for your own family or your pets.

Additional Living Expenses

A renters insurance policy typically includes Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage. Your renters insurance will cover your additional living expenses if the home or apartment you are renting is damaged or destroyed and you need to live elsewhere during the repairs/rebuilding.  For example, the difference between your regular living expenses and the additional costs incurred by having to live away from your home, such as hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals, etc.

*Insurance Information Institute, September 30, 2009

Need help deciding what coverage is best for you? Contact us today!