Renting an Apartment : Renters Insurance

Once you’ve moved in to your new place, there’s one thing you really ought to consider: insurance. Not on the building, but on your stuff. Get renters insurance as soon as you move into your apartment. (First check with your parents, though – if you’re in college, their insurance policy might cover your things, even when you’re at school.)

What does it cover?

Renters insurance covers all of your property within your apartment, and depending on the policy, it could include stuff that’s outside the apartment, like if your bike get stolen while you’re at a friend’s apartment. The coverage generally includes theft, fire or water damage. Some key things you should know about when you call for a quote:

  • Replacement-cost policy. This costs you a little more, but it’s worth considering. If your bike were stolen, a replacement-cost policy would foot the bill for you to buy a new bike, similar in quality to the one you lost. Without this, you get reimbursed for the bike you had, which probably isn’t enough to get a new bike.

  • Expensive items. If you have computer or stereo equipment or expensive jewelry, they may not be covered completely. You may want to insure those separately.

  • Personal liability. Most renters insurance covers all non-auto accidents. Say, for instance, you nailed a pedestrian on that cursed bike of yours before it was stolen. She could sue you, but renters insurance may protect you. Ask your agent about it.

What does it cost?The glib answer is: Not as much as it costs to buy all new stuff. The straight answer is: not that much, actually. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners estimates that the average policy costs only $169 a year. In other words, a lot less than you’re paying for car insurance.

Take inventory of your life:If you do get renters insurance, document your belongings. Make a list of everything that’s worth anything, including serial numbers. Take pictures (or make a video) of everything you own that you would want replaced. Trust us: it’ll make settling claims with the insurance company a thousand times easier.

Oh, and keep those records somewhere else – at a friend's place or with a relative. Maybe email them to yourself using a Web-based email service. If you do have a fire, you don't want these records destroyed as well.

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