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The Importance of Renter's Insurance

Updated on August 11, 2009
If you live in an apartment, make sure you have renter's insurance!
If you live in an apartment, make sure you have renter's insurance!

When I was twenty-one years old I moved into my very first apartment with two close friends. I must say that it was an exciting experience, one that I look back on fondly. Not only was I away from my parents for the very first time (I don't count college…after all, I lived in a dorm that MY PARENTS paid for), I was completely on my own…ready to make my own decisions (and yes, pay my own bills…YIKES!).

About one week after I moved in, I invited my Mom and Dad over for dinner. In between courses (yes, the space between servings of Hamburger Helper and frozen Pepperidge Farm Yellow cake is considered "between courses," at least in my book) my Mom turned to me and said, "So, have you purchased a renter's insurance policy yet?" Huh? Renter's Insurance? Of course, I had heard of it…I just never thought about buying any.


Listen to Your Mother!

I must say that if my parents taught me anything it was the importance of having the proper insurance coverage. Whether it be medical, automobile, or yes, even renters insurance, having appropriate coverage is extremely important and will buy you (as I found out) peace of mind.

People who buy renter's insurance do so in order to protect their personal belongings, after all, they don't actually own the structure that they are living in so home owner's insurance would not apply. Renter's insurance is usually purchased as a way to "protect" personal property should it be stolen. A good renter's insurance policy would allow you to replace any stolen items so it is important that you don't "under-insure" them.

Most young people who rent are concerned about their high-end stereo and video equipment, as well as their beloved flat-screen televisions! I don't know about you, but when I was twenty-one years old, my television was one of my most prized possessions (after all, it did take me a LONG time to save up for it)! The fear of being burglarized is what drives most people to look into (and hopefully buy) renter's insurance.

Renter's insurance usually provides the same coverage as home owner's insurance except (for obvious reasons) structural coverage. The individual (or property management company) that owns the structure you are living in should have his or her own policy that actually covers the structure itself. It is, however, very important that you include a little something called "liability" insurance in your renter's insurance policy. What is liability insurance? Well, I'm glad you asked! Allow me to give you an example of when liability insurance would come into play.

Oops! Did I Do That!?

Let's say you are currently renting a small house in the suburbs. One evening, after a hard day at work, you decide to relax, light a candle, and finish up that good book you have been reading. While reading, you fall asleep and the candle (that you lit) lights the drapes on fire and damages the structure of the rented dwelling that you are currently living in. Liability insurance would COVER YOU for the damages that you caused (since you lit the candle) and pay for any needed repairs. In other words, liability coverage would protect you should your land-lord decide to sue you for starting the fire that damaged his property. Liability insurance would also come into play should a house-guest fall (say on a banana peel that unbeknownst to you, missed the trash can and landed on the kitchen floor).

Before I forget, the standard renter's insurance policy comes with approximately $100,000 worth of personal liability coverage. If I were you, I would up that amount, after all, that really isn't enough should you be responsible for causing someone a serious injury that requires long term care or (I hate to even say it) loss of life. Trust me, the peace of mind is worth it and $300,000 to $500,000 worth of coverage will only cost you approximately $25 to $35 per year.

Here is an example of when the home owner's policy would come into play (and not YOUR policy). If, god forbid, a water pipe breaks, floods the basement, and ruins the hardwood floors…well, that my friends, would be covered by the OWNER'S policy…not your renter's insurance policy. After all, the pipe bursting was not your fault. Insurance can be tricky and sometimes difficult to understand. For those reasons alone, it is important that you do your homework and research different policies and different insurance companies. Don't be intimated, ask a lot of questions, and WRITE EVERYTHING down!

So there you have it, a quick glance into why renter's insurance is so very important! As I previously mentioned, do your homework and check out as many different policies and insurance companies as you can. The insurance industry is a competitive one and agents will be willing to work with you and if possible, compete with other companies in order to get your business. Though paying insurance premiums often feels like a waste of money, trust me, the peace of mind you will have knowing that you are covered should something bad happen is more than worth it!


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