Buying renters insurance to protect your stuff may seem like an unnecessary expense, until you experience a theft or fire in your rented home or apartment and lose some of your most treasured possessions forever.
Whether you're a longtime renter or starting out in your first place, renters insurance policies provide important benefits and coverage. If a fire or similar incident destroyed your home and you didn't have renters coverage, it would be up to you to replace everything you own. Plus, if someone claimed you caused an injury or property damage, without adequate insurance protection, you could be at risk for an expensive lawsuit and paying that person for his or her damages.
As you consider whether to buy renters insurance, here are four things you need to know:
1. Renters Insurance Provides Off-Premises Coverage
Renters insurance does more than cover the cost of lost or damaged possessions in your home. There is coverage if your bicycle is stolen from a bike rack at the park, or if your laptop is taken from your car while you're at the supermarket.
2. You Can Be Compensated if You're Forced to Relocate
Most renters policies provide additional living expenses coverage if your home becomes uninhabitable due to an event such as vandalism, theft, fire or water damage from home utilities.1 This benefit usually includes the cost of living expenses, up to your policy limits.
This coverage typically is limited to 30 to 50 percent of your insured personal property. For example, if your belongings were insured for $100,000, the limit on additional living expenses would be $30,000 to $50,000, as outlined in your policy.
3. A Home Inventory Can Determine How Much Coverage You Need
Before you decide how much coverage you need, it's important to know how much it would cost to replace your possessions. You can calculate replacement costs by conducting a home inventory and checking with your insurance representative to make certain you're fully covered.2
4. You Can Reduce Your Renters Insurance Costs
There are a variety of ways to reduce the cost of renters insurance. An option is to select a higher policy deductible, the amount you must pay before your insurance coverage takes effect. Increasing a deductible from $250 to $500 could create an annual savings of up to 15 percent.
You also may want to consider buying all your insurance policies from one carrier. For example, when you bundle your auto and renters policies, you receive additional savings.