Updated: January 2016
You don't need to own your home to benefit from insurance. In some cases, your landlord may even require you to get renters insurance before moving in. Whether it's required or not, renters insurance may help protect you in the event that your belongings are damaged or stolen. If you're new to renters insurance, you may be wondering how to choose the coverage that's right for you.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests getting quotes from at least three insurance companies to compare prices. But keep in mind that not all insurance policies are alike. The III says renters should not select a policy based on price alone. Be sure to compare the types of coverage each policy includes. And, says the III, choose an agent who takes the time to answer any questions you may have. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Most renters insurance policies come with a few standard types of coverage to help protect you and your belongings. They include:
Personal property coverage. This protection helps guard the stuff you own, such as furniture, electronics and clothing, from certain risks. Suppose someone breaks into your apartment and steals your television and stereo, or your belongings are damaged or destroyed in a fire. Personal property coverage may help pay to replace your stuff after an unexpected loss, up to the limits stated in your policy.
Liability coverage. This type of coverage can help protect you against damages or medical bills that you may owe if someone is injured at your home and you are found legally responsible. Liability coverage may also help protect you if you damage the home you're renting. Suppose you accidentally start a fire that damages the kitchen. Liability coverage may help cover your expenses in the event that you are sued for damages.
Additional living expenses. This type of coverage may help pay for expenses such as temporary housing if your rented home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril. Additional living expenses coverage may help cover the reasonable increase in living expenses, such as the cost of hotel stays and food, after a fire or other covered loss.
It's important to remember that limits will apply to each type of coverage, which means there is a maximum amount the policy will pay out for a covered event. Conducting a side-by-side review of multiple renters insurance policies may help you choose the coverage that best fits your needs — and help you make an apples-to-apples comparison between quotes.
As you compare quotes, it's also important to make sure that they are each based on the type of personal property coverage you plan to purchase. Personal property coverage typically helps cover costs in one of two ways:
- Actual cash value takes into account depreciation and only pays the amount you might expect to get if you sold the item today, the III explains. For example, you might have spent $1,000 on a couch 15 years ago, but with a policy that pays you actual cash value, you'd likely receive only a portion of the purchase price following a covered loss.
- Replacement cost is the amount it would cost to buy the same item again new today, or if the same item is no longer available, one that is of like kind and quality. This type of coverage may cost a bit more, but may prove worth it in the event that you need to purchase new items after a covered loss, the III says.
To help determine how much stuff you own and how much it may be worth, you may want to create a home inventory. This information may also be useful in the event that you need to file an insurance claim.
Contact a local agent to request a renters insurance quote or to ask any questions you may have about your coverage.