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Allison Hillemann was a property manager for four years, making her an expert on all things rental and apartment life, and now she’s my co-worker. In fact, the idea for this article came from a conversation in the office kitchen that went something like:
Allison: “Yeah, you’ve got to have renters insurance!”
Me: “Okay but why?”
So we sat down and she explained the ABCs of renters insurance to me, and by extension, to all of you fellow renters.
What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance is exactly what it sounds like: It’s insurance for you and your stuff when you’re renting a property. When you own a home, you have homeowners insurance and your house, the structure, the property, and all of your contents are covered. But when you rent, you need to purchase additional insurance to cover your belongings — and to cover if someone comes over to your house and there’s an accident and they sue you.
What does renters insurance cover?
You can purchase certain amounts of coverage, so basically you should take stock of what you have in your house or apartment and then come up with how much you think it would cost to replace everything.
There are many scenarios of how you could lose everything. If there’s a fire, a flood, or if someone breaks in and steals your belongings, you obviously want some easy way to replace that. Unless you can afford to just go out and buy new stuff anytime something happens, you need renters insurance to help you cover those costs.
What if the pipes break or bad wiring makes your house burn down? Is that the landlord’s problem? Why do I need renters insurance?
It’s your landlord’s problem if they lose their structure, but that’s what their insurance is for. You sign a lease that generally says that the stuff that belongs to you is your problem if something happens to it, and if you don’t have renters insurance you’re going to have to pay for that out of pocket.
Additionally, let’s say you live in an apartment building and it burns down. Not only do you have the cost of replacing all of your stuff but you also need a place to live in the meantime. So renters insurance will, a lot of the time, help cover the cost of hotels or temporary lodging.
How much does renters insurance cost?
Renters insurance is really cheap. You can get a lot of coverage for $10, $15, or $20 a month — it just depends on how much coverage you want. It’s much cheaper to pay $15 a month than to replace everything that you own.
And a lot of times if you’ve got your car insurance through a certain company you can go and get a bundle with your renters insurance which will save you even more money through multi-policy discounts.
Can you tell us about a time that you’ve seen someone use it or you’ve used it yourself?
I’ve actually used renters insurance myself. About 10 years ago, I was living in an apartment and during the day, while I was at work, someone broke into my apartment and stole all my electronics — my laptop, my iPad, both my TVs, pretty much everything that had any value at all.
I filed a claim with my renters insurance. Fortunately, I had pictures of some of the items that I had in the house that were stolen — if you don’t have receipts, then pictures usually work. And I just sent those to the insurance company and within a week they cut me a check for the value of the items (minus my deductible). It was quick and easy.
Renters insurance can definitely save the day, especially if you’re in the position where you can’t go out and buy all new things. 10 years ago, when this happened to me, I was in college so I obviously didn’t have all the extra funds to go out and buy a new computer and TV and everything else so it was definitely really helpful.
You mentioned receipts and pictures, why do you need that?
When you file a claim, your insurance company wants proof that you owned what you want to replace. Most people don’t keep the receipt for everything they’ve ever purchased so a quick and easy thing you can do is get your phone and snap a few photos of each of the rooms in your house or apartment and keep those somewhere safe. That way, if you need to file a claim you can show the insurance company that you had it — and ask them to buy you a new one.
If you don’t have receipts or pictures, it would be more work to file a claim, but I don’t think you’d have a lot of trouble unless you were like “Yeah, I had a Lamborghini in my garage and I need you to replace it.”
The moral of the story is that you need renters insurance! I have renters insurance, Allison has had renters insurance, and as a property manager, she definitely encouraged everyone to have renters insurance. You need it, it’s cheap — just go do it. Protect your belongings in and out of your apartment with Allstate Renters Insurance.