Renter's insurance is a type of coverage that protects the belongings of tenants in the event of fires, natural disasters, vandalism, or theft. It can pay for daily living expenses (e.g. food, a hotel room) while you are out of your home. Renter's insurance can also protect renters from personal liability (e.g. from damages in a lawsuit) in certain situations, such as if a visitor becomes injured.
Why Do I Need Renter's Insurance?
Many tenants do not realize that their landlord's insurance policy does not cover their belongings, and they often do not fully understand the value of their items and how much it would cost to replace them. Each year in Albany, dozens of families are displaced due to fires, home floods, or other disasters. Without renter's insurance, these households have no way to replace their belongings or pay for their daily living expenses while they try to get back on their feet. Renter's insurance is worth it for the peace of mind.
How Do I Select a Renter's Insurance Policy?
It's a good idea to "shop around" when considering renter's insurance. The following are some questions that you may wish to ask before purchasing a policy:
Does the insurance policy cover the costs of replacing your items, or their cash value? Replacement value has a higher premium, but is a good option if you own many older items with little cash value that would still need to be replaced.
Are there any discounts available? Some insurance companies issue discounts for non-smokers, buildings with sprinklers, or units with security systems.
Do you offer any "bundles" or discounts for holding multiple policies? It may be cheaper to purchase renter's insurance with your car insurance policy, for example.
What would the monthly premium* be?
What would the deductible** be?
* Premium: The monthly or annual cost of having an insurance policy.
** Deductible: The amount that the renter would have to pay out of pocket when filing an insurance claim. For example, a tenant may have to pay $500 when filing a claim, and their insurance covers the remaining costs.
Create a Personal Belongings Inventory
It's a good idea to keep a list of your personal property (especially any valuable items) in case of a loss. The following steps can help you to create a Personal Belongings Inventory:
Make a list of what you own, including when you purchased each item and the cost.
As you buy new household items, add them to your inventory.
Take pictures or videos of your belongings.
Determine the value of the items you would need to insure.
Purchase a renter's insurance policy that would allow you to replace the desired items.
File a copy of your renter's insurance policy with your other important records.
Keep a copy of your Personal Belongings Inventory outside of your home - this could be online ("in the cloud") or at a friend or relative's house.