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How much renters insurance do I need?

As a renter, you need insurance just as you would as a homeowner. Though you don’t own your home or the land it’s on, you have possessions that can be stolen or vandalized, not to mention liability if a guest gets hurt in your home. None of this is covered by your landlord’s insurance. Rather than asking yourself if you need rental insurance, the real question is, “How much renters insurance do I need?” This is a question that needs to be answered before you even begin to compare renters insurance policies or requesting renters insurance quotes.

What is Your Stuff Worth?

Determining the how much apartment insurance coverage you should have will probably take some time, but it’s important to do it right. Sure, you could just make a rough estimate, and chances are you’ll underestimate just how much stuff you own and just how much that stuff is worth. That means that if you have to file a claim, you’ll end up getting less than you really need. Or you just might end up estimating too high – that just costs you money that you don’t need to spend. The bright side of this is that, once you’ve figured it out, you won’t have to do it again for a long time, if ever.

Inventory Your Possessions

Your first step is to take a thorough inventory of what you have. Technology makes this easier than it used to be; just get out your smartphone or camera and go room to room, photographing – or perhaps better yet, videoing – everything. Be thorough and try not to miss anything. In each room, start with a wide shot of the whole room, then move in for a close-up of individual items. Get the closets, too, since you probably have some valuable items in them, including your clothing. This step will probably be a bit of an eye-opener as you start to realize just how many things you’ve accumulated over the years.

Once you have your photos or video, it’s time to get out a pad of paper and list out each item. Don’t rush this step; it’s going to take a while, but you don’t want to miss anything.

Determine the Value of Your Possessions

Now you have a list of all the items you own, but you need to know what they’re worth. Again you’ll take advantage of technology and go online, “shopping” for the things you own. Be sure you’re looking at items that are comparable to the ones you have now.

Something that bears mentioning here is that renter insurance policies vary in how they pay. Some policies will pay the “fair market value” of the items, which means if you paid $500 for your TV three years ago, it wouldn’t be worth $500 today, and this type of policy will only pay that item’s current market value at the time of a claim. If you’re looking for cheap renters insurance, there’s a good chance that this is the type of policy you’ll be looking at.

The best renters insurance policy for most people is one that will pay the item’s “replacement value,” so if a comparable model of your $500 TV now costs $550 to replace, $550 is what you’ll get if you have a claim.

Make Sure Your Valuables are Covered

Regardless of the home or apartment renters insurance you have, there will likely be limits on the dollar value that the policy will cover for each item. So if you have a $20,000 policy, that’s the total amount of coverage for everything, yet there is still a limit of perhaps $2,500 (the amount will depend on your policy) for individual items. If you own anything that exceeds that value, like collectibles or jewelry, you should get additional coverage for those items with a rider.

Your insurance company will want an appraisal for those valuables, so if you don’t have one already, take them to a certified appraiser.

What About Liability?

A lot of people are unaware that a renters insurance policy covers liability as well. This is important – if someone gets injured in your home, this will pay medical bills for that person. It could also help cover your legal fees if you are sued. And, if you or a family member damages someone else’s property, your renters policy covers that, too.

The amount of liability coverage you need depends on the value of your assets. Commonly, policies include $100,000 in liability coverage and, as a renter, this might be enough. If you own more than that, though, be sure you get a policy that covers it.

 How Much Will I Pay?

So you’ve added up the value of your property and you know how much coverage you need. Renters insurance cost is always a concern, just like anything else, and if you’ve never shopped for rental insurance, you might be surprised how affordable it can be. As a ballpark estimate, renters insurance policies average about $15 to $30 per month. The actual price of your policy will of course depend on a number of factors, including where you live and how high your deductible is.

Nobody ever wants anything bad to happen to them or their possessions, yet we know that unfortunately they sometimes do. Having good insurance coverage for the things you own can make those unfortunate circumstances a bit easier to deal with, knowing that you can afford to replace what you’ve lost.

USAgencies can help you find a renters insurance policy that fits your needs and budget. Request a renters insurance quote online by entering your information in the form at the top of the page or by calling 800-958-8545.