Why do I Need Renter’s Insurance?

As with any type of insurance, you could pay for renter’s insurance year after year and never need it. While some renters see it as a waste of money, those who end up needing it say they are grateful they had it.

According to a recent survey by the Insurance Information Institute, only 34 % of U.S. renters buy renters insurance.

Your landlord’s insurance takes care of any structural damage to your apartment as the result of a fire or even some wild weather. It won’t, however, pay to replace your Star Wars action figure collection or for your collection of old school vinyl. That’s where a renter’s insurance policy comes in.

Renter’s insurance doesn’t just take care of your stuff. It protects tenants from a few kinds of liability. For example, if someone trips and falls in your apartment, leading to expensive medical bills or even a lawsuit, your renter’s insurance policy would provide you with coverage.

It could also be a financial lifesaver. Renters insurance helps to pay for a place to stay if you are displaced from your apartment by something like a hurricane or major repair — up to a point. Some policies place time limits on how long they’ll cover expenses of staying in a new place, such as six months or a year, while others put a cap on how much they’ll shell out.

How much should you expect to pay? A basic renter’s insurance policy — with $10,000 in personal property coverage and $100,000 in liability coverage — costs just over $100 a year. But even if you bump up both of those coverage levels, renter’s insurance should still run you less than $200 annually.

Certain amenities or apartment features can help bring that price down. Think of it this way: If it’s something that helps protect you or your stuff, make sure to let your insurance agent know about it.

You’ll want to take a good look at what you actually own. A fresh-out-of-college renter with a lot of hand-me-down furniture might be fine with a policy that covers just $10,000 worth of belongings.

Big-ticket items, such as an expensive engagement ring, require a supplemental piece of insurance called a floater, since their individual value is too high to fall under the standard renter’s policy.

So who doesn’t need renters insurance? Anyone living in a college dormitory, hotel or executive housing. Temporary living situations can’t be covered by renter’s insurance.

Like many other kinds of insurance, a renter’s insurance policy has a deductible, which is the amount of money the insured party must pay before their insurance coverage kicks in. So if your deductible is $250 and you’ve suffered damage to $1,000 worth of your belongings, expect a check for $750.

Some landlords — but not all — require tenants to obtain a renter’s insurance policy. And some take things a step further by not only requiring that tenants obtain renters insurance but also asking to be listed as an interested party on the policy. They typically just want to know if the policy gets canceled and to make sure they understand how the claims process works.

Whether your landlord mandates renters insurance or not, it’s a good idea to evaluate your possess-ions and think about what it would cost you to replace them. For less than the cost of a take-out meal a month, a renter’s insurance policy will help you to rest easier.