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Renters Insurance Questions

Why Buy Renters Insurance?

Q. What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance covers the property contained within your living premises apartment, townhouse, condo or home up to the value of the policy. It also includes liability coverage.

Q. Why do I need renters insurance and liability coverage?
It is estimated that it would cost $40,000 on average to replace all the belongings –furniture, electronics, dishes, cooking ware, home appliances, clothing, personal items, etc. –contained in a two bedroom apartment. If someone were to break into your home, or if you were to experience fire or flood damage without insurance, your property would not be protected. Liability coverage also protects you against potential liable suits, were you are found responsible for an injury on or off your property or damage to property, which also includes your apartment and apartment building.

Q. What should I know about renters insurance?
First, make sure you have enough coverage. Inventory your items and go a bit higher than your estimate. It’s better to have too much coverage than not enough. Next, look at replacement cost coverage versus the standard actual cash value (ACV) coverage, which only provides you with the value of your property less depreciation. You may also want to consider increasing your liability coverage, which is $100,000 as a standard for most policies, to $300,000. The difference in your premium is minimal and offers added piece of mind.

Q. How do I get renters insurance?
If you already have auto insurance, you can talk to your existing insurance agent and ask them to provide you with a quote. You can shop online for renters insurance, taking advantage of websites like NetQuote that enable you to complete just one application and receive multiple quotes to compare and choose from.

Q. What happens if I need to make a claim?
This is what you want to ask your agent or potential insurance company from the very beginning. Each company works differently, so it is important for you to know exactly what is involved before you commit to working with one insurance company over another. Find out if they have a 24-hour claim service hotline, if you can submit a claim online or if you need to call your original insurance agent. Find out how long –on average –it takes to receive your insurance claim check after you’ve submitted all the necessary information.

Q. How can I save money on renters insurance?
The most common discount is multi-line discount, which is offered by insurance companies to customers that have more than one policy. If you currently have auto insurance and are shopping for renters insurance, you can ask your current insurance agent about this type of discount. Insurance companies also offer discounts if you have safety features such as deadbolt locks, fire alarms and a fire extinguisher.

Q. What if I have a storage unit?
Renters insurance covers 10% of your property that resides off your premises. If you have a renters policy with $50,000 worth of coverage, then your property in the storage unit is covered up to $5,000. If your property’s value exceeds 10% of your coverage, then we recommend buying insurance from the storage unit provider.

Q. Will I be penalized if I own a dog?
A. Potentially. Some insurers do not like writing policies for owners of certain breeds of dogs. Insurers may frown upon Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, and other dogs with a “bad reputation,” particularly if the dogs have a history of biting.

Q. Do I need extra protection for expensive pieces of jewelry e.g. an engagement ring, antiques or collectibles?
A. You might. Chances are that your jewelry, electronics, collectibles, and other valuables will be insured up to a certain amount by your renters coverage. But if you have a super expensive piece of art or multi-carat diamond ring, you might want to get a separate rider. Be sure to mention any valuable items to your insurance agent, so you can get appropriate coverage.

Q. Do I need extra insurance for flood, earthquake, and wind coverage?
A. Generally, you will. Standard renters insurance policies HO-4 provide coverage for personal possessions against 17 classes of peril, but earthquakes, floods, and windstorms are not included in these covered perils. If you rent in areas prone to flooding e.g. near a river delta, earthquakes e.g. near a fault line, or susceptible to windstorm damage e.g. in the Southern California desert), talk to your agent about tacking on some extra protection.

Q. How can I effectively track my possessions and valuables?
A. The Insurance Information Institute has free software that allows you to go room by room and track and identify all of your major possessions. Truth be told, you don’t need anything too fancy. Use a camera and/or notepad to document your possessions along with their cash value. If you have receipts for big ticket items, that’s even better. Store all this documentation in a safe place — either in a fireproof box in your apartment or off site in a safety deposit box or a trusted relative’s house. That way, if serious damage occurs to your place — e.g. a fire or flood — you will have your documentation at the ready to make your claim quickly.

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