Preparing the Northwest

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Insurance Facts for Renters

Renters Insurance is designed to protect your personal possessions against covered losses and your liability if you injure someone or damage someone’s property.  As a renter, it’s important to remember that a landlord’s insurance does not cover your belongings or liability.

What's Covered

Renters Insurance will protect you against losses from: fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and water damage from burst pipes or a windstorm.

Renters Insurance also covers you if someone slips and falls in your home or is injured by any of your possessions and then sues. The insurance covers your responsibility of other people injured at your home or elsewhere, and includes legal defense costs if you are taken to court.

Theft Limits

For example, most renters policies have a $1,000 total limit on jewelry that is stolen, a $3,000 - $10,000 limit for computers and $2,500 - $10,000 for silverware or flatware. Policies vary - so be sure to ask for a list of standard coverage limits so you know whether you'll need to buy Floater, which provides additional coverage for some of your items.

Cash or Replacement Value

Your policy can insure possessions one of two ways - for either the cash value or the replacement value. Cash Value coverage takes into account the age and condition of items at the time of damage or loss. Replacement Value pays today's cost of a new item. For instance, if your five-year-old TV is stolen, a Cash Value policy will pay part of the original purchase price while a Replacement Value policy will pay the current price of a comparable set. Replacement Value policies tend to cost more, and there may be other requirements as well.

Deductible Options

Find out the cost of your deductible, the amount you agree to pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in. The lower the deductible, the more you can expect to pay for your policy.

Be Sure to:

  • Shop Around
    Find an insurance agent or insurance company representative with whom you are comfortable. Ask friends or relatives or check the yellow pages agents and companies in your area. Call a variety of insurance companies and agents. Ask questions. Keep an inventory of your possessions handy, so you can purchase the coverage that is most appropriate for you ($16,000 is usually the smallest amount of coverage you can get).
  • Seek Discounts
    Insurance companies frequently offer discounts to their auto policyholders interested in buying a renters policy. You also may be eligible for discounts if your apartment or home has a security system, smoke detectors or deadbolt locks. Additional discounts may be available depending on your age or whether you are a non-smoker. Policies vary. Examine as many options as possible.
  • Read Your Policy
    An insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. Read the policy carefully. If you have questions or if something is unclear, call your insurance company representative. Don't sign the contract unless you fully understand the company's responsibilities as well as your own. An insurance policy spells out several obligations for both you and your company. For example, the company has a duty to defend you if you're ever sued. You must give the insurer complete, accurate and timely information.
  • Take an Inventory          
    Before purchasing, make an itemized list of everything you own with price estimates and purchase dates (if possible). Your inventory will help ensure that you purchase the right amount of insurance - not too much or too little. Also, an inventory will help you file a claim easier and faster if you ever experience a loss. Make copies of this inventory and keep it in a safe place outside of your home (at work, in a safe-deposit box or friend's house). Take photographs of each item. This can be helpful when filing a claim. You can access free, downloadable Home Inventory software through the Insurance Information Institute to help develop an accurate inventory of your belongings.