You may not own your home, but you still need to protect your possessions

By Rebecca Melnitsky

AAA World Article

You may not own your home, but you still need to protect your possessions. Renters insurance can help you do that.

Q: Why should I buy renters insurance? 

Renters insurance provides coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged possessions in your apartment. The items in your living area can be worth a lot of money and expensive to replace after a disaster.

Renters insurance protects you in case of injury, liability, and other catastrophes, like if a stove fire wrecks your kitchen, a thief steals your home entertainment system, or a guest slips and falls in your bathroom. With renters insurance, you are protected for damage to your belongings and if someone injured themselves while inside your apartment.

Q: How is rental insurance different from homeowners insurance? 

When you own a home, you also own the property in and around your home. If you rent your home, your landlord is the property owner.

A landlord has the responsibility to protect and maintain the building structure. But a landlord, who may own your building, is not responsible for the objects inside your rented apartment, accidental injury, or other legal liability. In fact, your landlord may have insurance, but not for your specific living area.

Similarly, condo insurance acts differently since a condominium association usually owns the property. The association takes responsibility for day-to-day maintenance of buildings and common areas, like a gym or a pool. However, the condo association may not cover individual units and the property you have inside. Examine your condo association’s bylaws and look for gaps in coverage. You might want to get a policy for yourself to protect your individual unit and your possessions.

Q: Is it possible to find cheap renters insurance? 

No matter how much you spend on renters insurance, it’s not as expensive as replacing all of the items in your apartment without insurance. Insurance gives you a chance to replace and repair items without breaking the bank.

Plus, you can ask for discounts. If you have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or a security system, you may be eligible for a discount. Ask your insurance agent as you apply. 

Cheap renters insurance is possible, but it is more important to have insurance that provides good coverage for the items that you hold dear and depend on every day.

Q: Are there any situations renters insurance doesn’t cover? 

In a similar way to homeowners insurance, renters insurance may have coverage limits, or not apply to certain situations. Of course, check with your insurance agent and ask about the specifics of your policy. Ask if you need an add-on to your coverage, especially if you have pets or a home business.

Q: What if I have rare or unusual items? Will renters insurance cover them if they are lost or damaged? 

Purchase a rider (or floater) on your insurance policy to protect especially valuable items, such as jewelry, collectibles and antiques. You will have to provide a receipt for the purchase of the item, or have it appraised for its value. An appraisal must be kept recent especially since collectibles may change valuable over time. So it is a good idea to keep appraisals recent and update it every three to five years.

Alternatively, you can ask your insurer to raise the liability limit on your policy without adding a rider.

Q: What if I have a storage unit? Will renters insurance cover the items inside that as well as the possessions in my apartment? 

Some policies have coverage for items in a storage unit while others do not. You can also buy additional coverage for your storage unit through your insurance, or from your storage unit company.

Q: How can I get the most out of my renters insurance? 

Don’t be afraid to ask your insurance agent about any part of your policy. Be honest, and tell your insurance agent if you plan to make a change in your life, like remodeling your kitchen or making a big purchase. They are here to help you, make your life simpler, and ensure the important things in your life are covered in for any emergency. 

In addition, make an inventory of the items in your home. This helps you know exactly the value of your possession and their condition before they were destroyed.