While renters insurance offers broad protection for tenants, it's important for consumers to choose the policy that best suits their individual needs.
A renters policy can cover your personal belongings and help cover legal costs in the event you are sued for accidental bodily injury or property damage of others. But not all policies are the same. Here are five questions to ask your insurance representative to help you make the right choice.
1. What's Covered and What's Not?
A renters policy generally covers your stuff against events like theft, lightning, fire, smoke, vandalism, explosions and windstorms.1 There's also liability protection against claims and lawsuits alleging that you caused bodily injuries or property damage. There may be coverage for certain kinds of water damage, such as leaks from damaged pipes. Your insurance rep can tell you if the policy includes additional living expenses if you're forced to move due to a covered loss.
A typical renters insurance policy does not generally provide coverage for damage from floods and earthquakes. Also, there will be limits on how much coverage is provided for your things. There could also be lower limits in the policy for different categories of your possessions. If you own expensive collectibles, such as jewelry or art, ask your insurance representative about buying additional coverage for these valuables.
2. Will a Renters Policy Cover my Roommate?
Renters insurance typically covers family members, but may not cover roommates. Calfee Insurance recommends that each occupant obtains his/her own policy to cover their individual stuff.
Some insurers allow roommates to be insured under a single policy. In these instances, roommates must agree to the level of coverage, based on the combined value of their stuff. If one roommate moves away, the remaining renter typically will need to obtain a new policy.
3. What's the Difference Between Cash Value and Replacement Coverage?
There are two types of renters coverage, one that pays based on your property’s actual cash value and one that pays based on you property’s replacement cost.
For example, a computer you bought for $1,000 eight years ago has significantly depreciated in value, let’s say to $200. If you have a cash value policy, the maximum amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair it, or $200. If you have a replacement cost policy, the amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair or replace the item with a similar new computer.
4. Will Owning a Dog Affect my Renters Coverage?
Some policies provide coverage if your dog injures someone, and some insurers exclude or limit coverage for customers who own a dog. It’s best to discuss this with your insurance representative when purchasing your policy.
5. Am I Covered if my Laptop Computer is Stolen from my Car Parked Outside my Home?
Renters policies generally include coverage for items stolen off-premises. That means belongings outside your home have insurance protection similar to the things inside your home. However, off premises coverage may be limited to a percentage of your total coverage for personal items. For example, if you have $50,000 in personal items coverage, the amount available for off-premises losses may be 10 percent of that figure, or $5,000. Also, keep in mind, there is generally a deductible that applies.
There are many common myths about potential dangers in and around the home that can keep some homeowners up at night. However, the gap between myth and fact can make all the difference when it comes to reducing risk in your house. So what does the data tell us are the biggest risks to your home?
From leaking valves to house fires, a look at Calfee Insurance Claim data reveals the facts about the most frequent causes of homeowners’ claims, as well as the costliest. The answers may surprise you. While some risks are common nuisances we are all too aware of, others can be catastrophic. To help keep your home, your valuables and your family safe, you will want to take steps to protect them.
Danger #1: Water Damage
Many people think of damage from hurricanes and heavy rains when they think of water damage. But according to Travelers Claim data from 2013-2020, more property losses resulted from non-weather water claims (23%) than weather-related water claims (15%)*. Non-weather water claims can involve plumbing-related losses, such as pipes, drains and valves, as well as appliance issues. Learn more about common causes of water damage and the steps that you can take to help prevent it.
Danger #2: Weather-Related Roof/Flashing Damage
Wind, hail and weather-related water damage accounted for more than half, or 53%, of all Travelers property loss claims between 2013-2020. Falling limbs and branches weighed down by snow and freezing rain can cause roof/flashing damage. It is a good idea to inspect trees on your property to help prevent damage caused by falling tree limbs. Learning how to identify and remove ice dams can also help you avoid costly damage in the winter months.
Danger #3: Frozen Pipe Damage
Frozen water pipes are considered a potential source for catastrophic property damage, and make the list of Travelers’ five costliest sources of homeowner claims. While a sub-item of weather-related water loss, it is so significant, it deserves special mention. The good news is you can take steps to help prevent your pipes from freezing by identifying pipes that are most at risk and taking steps before winter arrives to help insulate them. During the winter, you may consider using a smart thermostat to manage and monitor that your heat is set at a safe level to help avoid freezing, and to receive notifications if the temperature in your home drops unexpectedly.
Danger #4: Theft
Theft from the premises makes the list of top causes of property loss claims, accounting for 4% of losses. There are many steps that you can take to help make your home less attractive to thieves, including landscaping with theft prevention in mind, adding outdoor lighting and creating a plan to make your home appear occupied while you are away. There are a number of methods to monitor your home to help minimize the theft potential, including smart home alarm systems.
Danger #5: Fire
Although fires do not occur as often as other incidents around the home, the damage that they can cause puts fire at the top of the costliest types of claims, according to Travelers Claim data from 2013-2020. Fire and related damages accounted for 27% of claims as measured by costs paid out. Fires can start from cooking, overloading circuits, and improperly using a wood stove, among other causes. Learn more about the potential wood stove safety tips, and how to help protect your home.
Frozen pipes can present an invisible threat – one that you might not recognize until the weather starts to warm. By then, the water damage can be significant and costly. Fortunately, keeping your home warmer, at a consistent temperature, and better insulated can help protect your pipes from freezing this winter.
What Do You Do if You Have a Frozen Pipe?
If you suspect pipes in your home have been exposed to freezing temperatures, or water is not flowing through a faucet normally, follow these steps to help reduce the potential for water damage:
Why is a Frozen Pipe a Concern?
When water begins to freeze, it expands. This can cause both plastic and metal pipes to burst, possibly leading to significant water damage to your home.
Which Pipes Are Most at Risk?
Pipes that are most exposed to the elements, including those outdoors and along the exterior walls of your home, may need extra protection during winter months. These include the following:
How to Help Prevent Frozen Pipes
It's appealing to buy a new car that looks great and is fun to drive, but it also pays to look beneath the surface for features that make your vehicle safe to drive and affordable to insure.
Car insurance costs are based, in part, on the model's safety history, the cost of vehicle repair or replacement, and the likelihood that the car will be stolen. Many insurers offer discounts for vehicles with features that reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
Here are five tips to consider when shopping for a new car:
1. Find Out the Cost of Insurance
Your insurance rates typically change when you acquire a new vehicle. Before you choose a model, the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute recommends that you ask your insurance rep how much it will cost to insure.1
If you choose a sporty model that attracts buyers who enjoy driving fast, it will likely cost more to insure. If the car you pick is very expensive, it will be costly to repair or replace, and that will drive up insurance costs. A model that's often targeted by car thieves may also cost more to insure.
2. Look for Safety Technology
One of the best things about buying a new car is all the new devices that have been developed in recent years to help drivers avoid accidents. Advanced safety features can include:
3. Consider Vehicle Design and Size
Design characteristics are important when choosing a new car. Larger and heavier vehicles typically sustain less damage in auto crashes than small cars. Some small utility vehicles and pickups are prone to rollover accidents.
In addition to considering size, look for cars that have “crashworthy" designs. These cars have strong “safety cages," the section of the vehicle that protects the occupants. Make sure that the front and rear ends are “crush zones" that can absorb the impact of crashes.
You can look up car safety rankings by using the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's online safety rankings tool.
4. Get Pre-Approved for a Car Loan
it is recommended that you get pre-approved for a car loan before you begin shopping for a new car. Check with several lenders to get the lowest interest rate. Once you have loan approval, you'll know how much you can afford to spend. You'll also have an interest rate you can use to compare with those offered by the new car dealer's financing. In some cases, the dealer may offer the best financing deal.
Before you begin shopping for a loan, gather documents to verify your income and the balances of any debts you may have.
5. Negotiate the Best Price
A good negotiator usually can get a better deal than someone who simply agrees to pay what the dealer is asking. Dealers may price their cars higher than the amount they actually expect to receive in preparation for negotiations.
If you take time to research prices online before you visit a dealership, you'll have a better idea of what a competitively priced car should cost. Often, the best time to buy is during end-of-the-year sales, when dealers need to make room for newer models, notes the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Negotiate the actual price of the car rather than the monthly payment. Focusing on payments makes it easy to lose sight of the full amount you'll be paying over time, says Autotrader.
If you can't get the price you want, don't be afraid to walk away. Remember there's always another car.