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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Renters Insurance

Updated on September 1, 2012


It’s great to have homeowners or renters insurance, but the fact of the matter is, there are things that you should know in the event of loss.

Not all things are paid back equally!

There are many ways to get burned on trying to collect on a homeowners or renters policy.

Let’s examine some things you can do to maximize your return should you find yourself needing to actually use your homeowners or renters insurance policy.



  • Inventory all you own. This is essential if you want to get reimbursed properly for loss of property.
  • What did you pay? Note the date you bought things, how much you paid and where.
  • Capture it on film. Take pictures of everything you own. This goes to the state of the merchandise that was lost. If it was in excellent condition, you’ll obviously probably get more than if it was in broken or rundown condition.
  • Keep it real. Things change – you add more stuff to your collection, you get rid of stuff. You have to keep a running inventoryand make changes as necessary to your list. You also need to update your photographs.
  • Branch office. You need to store your inventory list and your photo documentation in a different location than where your stuff is located! In the event of theft or fire, etc., you won’t have your precious documentation available. Store in a safety deposit box or on a separate disc drive somewhere else. Back-up is a must if you have a lot of stuff!



Renters insurance companies put a value on everything you own or list in your inventory. 

Actual cash value – ACV – everything you have once you own it is used.  ACV is the price someone could get for that item on the market.

Replacement value – RV – This is the value of the item less depreciation on it. 

Lump sum – Some policies will cover items with a lump sum payment based on weight for some items.

Different strokes for different folks – every renter’s insurance policy is not created equal. 

TIP:  Before thinking about purchasing a policy, it’s important to do the above.  Make your inventory and take pictures.  Then see which renters insurance companies have the best valuation for your type of stuff. 

There can be a huge difference between companies in terms of premiums but also between payouts.

TIP:  Check your valuables at the desk.  It is advised that things like heirlooms, jewelry that is expensive, guns, etc. not be kept in your home.  Why?  They are obviously on the hot list for theft.  They are also very expensive to replace. 

If you try to cover them on your insurance policy, it will send the rates through the roof.  You can save a lot of money by storing them in a safety deposit box.



  • Comparison shop. Make sure you get the best policy for the least amount of money. Make sure the policy covers things in a valuation style that you are comfortable with.

    Know how much you’ll get for that big screen TV before you need to replace it.

    Take several items and comparison shop the policies to see which will most adequately meet your needs.

  • Increase your upfront cost. Go with a higher deductible and save money.

  • Automatic withdrawal. This will save you money if you pay your bills this way.

  • Paid in full. Ask about paying in full as a way to get a discount. If you pay for the whole year, surely you should get a discount!

  • Take your umbrella. You can save a bundle by bundling your policies – if you have auto insurance, group it together with your renters policy and save money.

  • Keep your numbers up. Having good credit will automatically make you less of a risk to insure and give you a lower rate.

  • Safety saves. Having smoke alarms in every room, sprinklers or fire extinguishers are considered safety devices and will save you money.

    So will home monitoring systems, dead bolts, and safety devices on your windows.

  • It matters where you live. Safe neighborhoods, gated communities and less populated areas will usually save you money.

  • Be part of a group. Ask about insurance rates through work, through the school you graduated from or organizations that you belong to such as AARP.

    Group discounts save big bucks.

  • Lose your butts! If you smoke, cut it out! You’ll get a big discount and you’ll be healthier in the long run.

    Smoking causes fires and smokers are high risk for insurance folks. Keep that in mind next time you light up.

  • Go the distance. If you stay with insurance companies and are a faithful customer and especially if you have filed no claims – you deserve a break today! Ask for a discount.

Amount of coverage $ you need
Multiple policy discount
Amount of deductible
Longevity discount (how long with company)
Do you want cash value back?
Smoke detector installation discount
Opt for replacement value if you can
Window and door safety device discount
Most policies are $10-25% per month
Neighborhood discount
Store heirlooms in safety deposit box
Gated community discount
Store guns in safety deposit box
Nonsmoking discount
Store jewelry in safe deposit box
Paid in full or automatic withdrawal discount
Just some of the things to consider and some of the discounts available on renters insurance - always compare policies.


There are many options out there for rental insurance.

Make sure you investigate all of them and if you’re looking for policies, check out

Renters insurance is really relatively cheap compared to other forms of insurance, so don’t hesitate to purchase it even if you’re trying to save money.

The money you pay out is minimal (it can be as low as $15-30 per month).  The benefits you’ll reap far outweigh the cost should you experience a loss.

Think of how much it would cost to replace all your stuff and then consider how much you’ll be paying out. It is an investment – in your stuff!

Keep up to date records and don’t forget to take pictures! It can save you big bucks if you ever have to use your insurance and make a claim.

If you have more insight on how to get the best return on your renters insurance should you need to use it, please leave us a comment here to further our knowledge base on renters insurance.


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Pamela - for the read and always the support~

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Audry, Good advice and great article.


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