While buying homeowners insurance is a common practice, many renters don’t realize
they can buy an insurance policy, too. Renters insurance covers damage to your
belongings as well as any damage you’re liable for to the house or apartment you’re
renting. Some landlords require it but even if yours doesn’t, it’s a good investment.
Buying renters insurance is much like buying any other policy. Essentially, you’re giving
a company money for a promise it will be there should you have any claims. But before
you sign on the dotted line, make sure you ask your agent these three questions:
How Much Does This Policy Cover?
As dumb as it sounds, many renters policy buyers don’t ever ask how much the policy
covers. They go with whatever the agent says is standard or the minimums their
landlord requires for a lease. Before you hand over your check, ask the agent to break
down how much each part of the policy covers. You want to ask how much of your
belongings are covered as well as how much liability coverage it offers.
And don’t forget to ask the agent to list what risks your policy covers. Theft and fire are
standard for renters insurance policies but you also want to know about water damage.
Run some scenarios by your agent and have her tell you whether your policy covers
Finally, know your deductibles. How much risk are you taking on with this policy?
$500 or $1000 deductibles are common in renters insurance. Remember that a high
deductible will keep your price down but it also means there has to be some serious
damage for your insurance company to step in.
Where Should I Email the Pictures of My High Value Items?
Although you hope to never to use your renters insurance policy, it’s important
that you are ready if and when you finally have a claim. While much of the average
apartment’s items may have standard values, you may also have high value items.
Certain electronics, art, etc may exceed the standard payout. For you to receive the
corresponding value, you may be asked to prove you owned them in the first place.
Pictures, receipts, and appraisal paperwork will all help you prove how much your
belongings are worth. You need to get these items to your insurance agent before a
claim. In fact, bring them with you when you go buy the policy. And if you can’t, don’t
forget to get the agent’s email address so you can send them to her when you get back
home. (And it’s also a handy little piece of proof that you notified the agent should that
ever be an issue.)
Can I Get This Cheaper If I. . .?
Insurance companies often offer discounts for the small things. Some might offer one
if you order the policy online rather than with an agent. You might receive a discount
if you have other policies with the company, such as automobile or life insurance.
Discounts can also come from measures you’re taking to prevent claims, such as
installing a security system. You can even save a few bucks if you pay your premium in
full for the year instead of monthly.
The point is that you have to ask. The agent wants to sell you the policy so she’ll already
be on the lookout for ways to make it cheaper. But you should make it a point to ask
your agent what else she can do for you. You never know what she may come up with.