you came home from work to find your apartment had been totally
trashed by a burglar. Or you walked into your living room and found
your furniture standing in several inches of water. You can't assume
your landlord will pay for the damage.
landlord's insurance doesn't cover your personal property:
Things like your clothes, stereo, furniture, television, bicycle,
jewelry, personal computer, artwork and other items are not usually
covered by your landlord's insurance against destruction or loss.
Your landlord may be sympathetic about the flood in your living
room or your stolen stereo, but your likely to be the one who'll
have to buy a new couch or stereo system.
renters insurance you'll be able to replace what's damaged or stolen.
Renters insurance covers your possessions against losses from fire
or smoke, lightening, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, and
water damage from plumbing.
insurance ALSO covers your responsibility to other people injured
at your home or elsewhere by you, a family member or your pet and
pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court.
you buy renters insurance?
How Much Insurance You Need
Take an inventoryMake a list of everything in your apartment. Record
model numbers, serial numbers, date and place of purchase. Take
photographs or make a video of these items. Keep your inventory
and visual record of your things outside of the apartment, maybe
in a safety deposit box or at the office. An inventory will make
filing a claim easier.
with an insurance company or agent about the following
limits - Most renters policies have a $2,000 total limit on stolen
jewelry, and a $5,000 - $10,000 limit for computers. Ask for a list
of standard coverage limits so you'll know weather you need to get
additional coverage for some of your belongings.
or replacement value - Your policy can insure your property in one
of two ways - either for cash value or replacement cost. Cash value
coverage takes into account the age and condition of items at the
time of damage or loss. With this coverage, you'll be reimbursed
for the value for the item minus depreciation. Replacement value
coverage will pay the full cost of buying an item of similar kin
or quality today.
options - A deductible is your out-of-pocket cost before the insurance
kicks in. Keep in mind that the cost of your policy will be lower
if you choose a high deductible.
- Insurance companies frequently offer discounts on renters insurance
if you have another policy with them for your car or business. You
can also get discounts if your apartment has a security system,
smoke detectors, or deadbolt locks. More discounts might be available
depending on your age or whether you're a nonsmoker.
Ask friends or relatives, look on the internet, or flip through
the yellow pages to find the agent that is right for you. Call a
variety of insurance companies and agents and ask a lot of questions.
Keep your inventory handy, so you can find the amount of coverage
that is most appropriate for you.
An insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance
company. Read it carefully. If you have questions of if something
is unclear, call your insurance company representative. Don't sign
the policy unless you fully understand the company's responsibilities
as well as your own. For example, the company has a duty to pay
your defense costs if you are sued, but it will be indicated as
a condition in the policy that you must give your insurer complete,
accurate and timely information about the incident.
Q. Does renters insurance cover all my belongings?
A. It depends. Some items like jewelry and computers often have
a per-category theft limit (for example, some policies have a $5,000-$10,000
limit for computers). For these, you may want to buy a "floater"
which provides higher limits and broader coverage than those included
in your basic policy.
I file a claim, will my policy be cancelled?
A. If you didn't cause the loss or damage, your insurance shouldn't
be affected. If you were at fault-if you caused a fire by smoking
in bed for example- the insurance company might decide not to renew
your policy. Your insurer might also do the same thing if you file
several claims within a short time, regardless of fault.
my bike or car covered by renters insurance?
A. Your bike is covered, but vehicles aren't. you need to get a
separate auto insurance policy to protect your car, van or motorcycle.
my property, such as a laptop computer, covered away from home?
A. Yes, but coverage may be limited and the conditions of the coverage
may vary. You should ask your insurance agent for details.
a student, am I covered by my parents' policy?
A. If you're a full-time college student and part of your parents'
household, their homeowners or renters insurance might give you
limited coverage in the dorm, but not if you live off campus.
I purchase a renters policy with my roommate or domestic partner?
A. It depends. Regulations differ from state to state, and policies
might also differ from company to company. Find out what regulations
apply in your state and then shop around to find an insurance company
that suits your needs. Some insurance companies allow unmarried
couples who have been living together to obtain joint coverage,
rather than two separate policies. But a domestic partner is usually
not automatically insured like a husband or wife under the partner's
policy. He or she must be specifically named.
happened if something I have rented or borrowed is stolen?
A. Items that are "in your possession" are covered under
a standard renter's policy, whether they are things that you've
brought, received as gifts or rented.
if I have problems dealing with my insurance company about a claim?
A. Make sure you have provided all the documentation the company
requested. Talk things over with your agent or company representative.
Also, your state insurance department or local consumer protection
office can answer questions on filing claims and also take complains.
Glossary of insurance terms
cash value: Insurance under which the policyholder receives compensation
equal to the cost of replacing damaged or stolen property minus
an amount for depreciation for age and use. For example: A tree
falls through your roof destroying your eight year-old sofa that
cost $1,200 when it was new, but is now only worth $400. With an
actual cash value policy, you will receive $400.
Insurance salesperson.(a) An independent does not work directly
for an insurance company and sells the policies of more than one
insurer;(b)An exclusive agent works for one insurance company and
only sells it's policies.
Policyholder's request for payment by an insurer for a loss covered
by a policy.
Part of an insurance policy that states your obligations and those
of your insurance company that must be followed for the policy to
be in effect.
Amount you pay out of pocket per claim or per accident. This amount
is subtracted from the total paid by your insurer. If the claim
is for $500 and your deductible is $100, your company will pay $400.
Reduction in the value of property due to age and use.
partners: Term used to describe unmarried couples living together.
Attachment to a policy which adds to or changes the contract's original
Additional coverage for items not included in the basic policy such
as expensive jewelery or antiques.
department: Agency that enforces rules for the insurance business
in each state. A valuable source of information about all types
of insurance. The department also handles consumer inquiries and
List of your possessions with description, serial numbers when appropriate,
and information on when and where purchased.
coverage: Insurance which pays the losses of other people to whom
you unintentionally or through negligence cause injury.(a) Bodily
injury liability coverage pays medical costs of others and your
legal defense costs if you physically harm someone;(b)Property damage
liability coverage pays claims against you if you damage someone
Failure to exercise a generally accepted level of care and caution.
Cause of loss.(Examples: fire, theft.)
property insurance: Protects against the loss of, or damage to,
possessions caused by specific perils.
period: Amount of time an insurance policy is in forced.
Amount you pay for insurance coverage.
Person who buys insurance.
of loss: Documents you give to the insurer to support your request
for payment of a claim. The company uses these documents to determine
whether and how much it will pay. (Examples include written repair
estimates and police reports.)
costs: Cost to replace property with items of like kind and quality
without regard to age or condition of the original item.
limit: Highest amount an insurance company will pay on certain items
that are stolen from your home. For instance, some polices have
a $5,000 limit for computers. If your computer is worth more and
you want to cover it for it's full value, you need to purchase a
floater (see glossary above).
numbers for state insurance departments
HOW do you file a claim?
As soon as you become aware of a loss, note the date, time of day
and list of goods stolen or damaged. In case of a theft, call the
police as soon as possible. Then, contact your insurance company
or agent to report the loss and get the appropriate claims form.
Written and documented reports of losses are especially important
when theft is involved. Try to include everything and carefully
assess damages: amended claims could take longer to pay.
information, call the National Insurance Consumer Helpline (NICH)
and approved by The National Consumers league.