When you move into a new apartment, you instantly start thinking about how you want to arrange your furniture, what new restaurants or bars you’re near, and what your neighbors are like. However, it’s not likely that you’re thinking about what could happen if your apartment got broken into or if your complex suddenly got damaged in a major storm or fire.
If all of your possessions were stolen or lost due to an incident that was beyond your control, it could be a devastating — not to mention expensive — situation. Replacing your items out-of-pocket could take thousands of dollars, but there are a few ways to protect yourself and your investments.
One such way to ensure that your furniture, electronics, jewelry, and clothing are safe is to purchase renters insurance for your apartment. Although your landlord is responsible for insuring the property itself, they are not responsible for any of your personal items.
Let’s go over all the ins and outs of renters insurance so you know exactly how to protect yourself.
What Does Renters Insurance Actually Cover?
Renters insurance might sound like a good way to protect your belongings, but what does it actually cover?
Here’s a general list of what renters insurance covers, but it’s always best to check with an insurance agent to see what your specific policy offers:
- Fire and lightning
- Windstorm and hail
- Damage by aircraft
- Damage by vehicle (not your own)
- Smoke damage
- Volcanic eruption
- Falling objects
- Weight of snow, ice, sleet
- Damage from steam-heating/water-heating appliances/systems
- Leakage or overflow of water or steam
- Freezing of plumbing, heating, or air conditioning
- Short-circuit damage caused by electrical appliances
What Doesn’t Renters Insurance Cover?
Like any other insurance policy, renters insurance has its limitations. Here is a short list of what renters insurance may not cover:
If you would like coverage for these events, you can always purchase an additional policy that specifically covers earthquakes or floods. Contact your insurance agent to see what options are available for renters.
How Much Does It Cost?
Although you may not want to fork over extra cash every month in addition to your rent, the good news is that renters insurance isn’t generally all that expensive. Typically, you can expect to spend anywhere from $15 to $30 per month on renters insurance (totaling $180-$360 per year). This will largely depend on what kind of policy you choose, where you live, and what company you decide to go with.
Remember that like any other service you’re looking into, it pays to shop around. Ask for quotes from three companies to give yourself a good idea of an average price.
How Do I Actually Get Insurance?
The first step to getting renters insurance is to go online and research at least three different companies. In order to ensure that their quotes are accurate, you’ll need to take a quick inventory of how much (approximately) all of the personal items you’ll be insuring are worth. Essentially, the higher in value your items are, the more you might end up paying to insure them. Tally up all of your electronics, artwork, jewelry, clothing, etc. and estimate their current value (not the amount you paid for them).
In addition to totaling up the value of your items, you’ll also need to consider how much liability coverage you’ll need. Liability coverage essentially protects you from a variety of incidents and damages that you could be responsible for while in your apartment (like if your dog bites someone or a guest slips and falls), and it also helps pay for legal protection if someone files a lawsuit.
Lastly, you’ll need to consider how much of a deductible you’ll want to have (the amount of money owed to the insurance company before they’ll start to reimburse you). Remember: the higher the deductible, the lower the monthly premium. Conversely, the lower the deductible, the higher the monthly premium.
Once you’ve decided on a company and a plan, your agent will walk you through the next steps to getting your policy started.
What Happens If I Actually Need to Use My Renters Insurance?
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having your apartment broken into or being damaged in a fire, you’ll need to get the ball rolling with your insurance company to receive a check and start replacing damaged, destroyed, and stolen items.
First, you’ll need to call your landlord and report the damage that was done to your apartment. They’ll need to know if they have anything to fix within the apartment, and if it was broken into, they’ll need to inform any other tenants or neighbors. After you’ve informed your landlord, you’ll also need to contact the police.
Once you’ve contacted the proper authorities, you’ll need to call your insurance company, having your policy number handy when you do. If it’s possible, document your losses by taking photographs of all the damage in the apartment. Write down and account for everything you’ve lost (note that it’s really helpful to have an inventory of your items on record beforehand).
After you’ve documented your losses, you’ll need to file a claims form, after which the insurance company will start investigating the claim to determine how extensive the loss was.