35 percent of American households rent their homes. Renting makes sense for many reasons: you might not be financially ready to buy a home, are testing out a new city, or it might be cheaper to rent than to buy in your area.
Renting can be a great solution, but there are some risks involved. If you are going to lease a home, you need to have an essential safeguard against damage or theft: renter’s insurance.
What Is Renter’s Insurance?
If you rent and thieves break into your home, you might think your landlord is responsible for the damages and value of your stolen items because it happened on their property. However, that’s not usually how it works.
If you’re robbed, or if you cause damage to another unit — like if you overflow the bathtub and it causes a leak — you are responsible for the expenses.
That can quickly add up into the thousands, which is much more than most people have in savings. Instead of raiding your own bank account, renter’s insurance can be an economical solution. Renter’s insurance will cover replacing ruined or stolen items and other related expenses.
Many people think they don’t need a policy because they don’t have many possessions, or because their belongings aren’t worth much. But, you likely have far more than you realize. Clothing, furniture, kitchen supplies, electronics, or a computer are common items, and, in the case of theft, you’d have to replace them on your own if you don’t have insurance.
How to Find a Policy
Getting a renter’s insurance policy is quick and easy. Companies like Geico and Assurant allow you to apply and pay online. Within 10 minutes, you can have a renter’s insurance policy. And, renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive. According to insurance giant Nationwide, a renter’s policy costs between $15 & $20 per month.
If you have another form of insurance, such as car insurance, you can usually add a renter’s policy to your account for even less; you just need to call or email your agent. You can get a comprehensive insurance policy for $100 to $200 a year.
Protecting Your Belongings
Getting renter’s insurance is an important first step, but just having a policy doesn’t mean you’re all set. If you have no proof that you owned the items you list on an insurance claim, your insurer may deny your claim. To prevent that from happening, follow these three steps:
1. Take photos or make a video
After a theft or emergency, it’s hard to remember everything that was in your apartment that could be missing or needs replacement. You might forget expensive items, like the pair of expensive shoes you splurged on or that surround-sound system you bought.
To keep that from happening, do a walkthrough of your apartment and either take a video of your whole home or take pictures of every angle. Make sure you open cabinets and closets to photograph or record their contents. In the case of a claim, your photos and video can be proof.
If you have any electronics, such as a computer, television, or tablet, make sure you photograph the serial numbers on each one. When you submit your claim, the insurance company will use the serial numbers to determine the value of your items. Without it, they might assign it a lower value.
2. Keep an inventory
This might sound obsessive, but it’s a good idea to keep a home inventory of your valuables. It doesn’t need to contain every sweater you buy, but it’s a good idea to have a list with the purchase price of each new pricey item that enters your home.
For example, if you buy a handbag, take a picture and add the item, a description, and how much it cost to a spreadsheet. If possible, also take a photo of the receipt just in case.
3. Save it on the cloud
If you follow these steps but store the photographs or video in your apartment, they could become worthless if they get damaged or stolen.
Instead, save your video, photos, and inventory in a cloud-based storage system, such as Google Drive or iCloud. That way, if your home is ruined, you can still access your documents from a computer.
Get a Policy Today
Getting a renter’s insurance policy might sound like just another monthly expense, but it’s one of the smartest financial decisions you can make if you lease your home. A policy can cost just a few dollars a month but can cover the cost of thousands in replacement items or repairs after an incident.
Call or email your insurance agent or apply for a policy online today to get the coverage you need to protect yourself and your home.
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