Renters insurance is an often overlooked, but crucial protection for anyone who lives in an apartment or rental house. The average renter owns roughly $20,000 worth of stuff, but the average cost of a renter’s policy is just $187 a year — that’s about a dollar a day to protect everything you own.
Despite its low price and high value, renters insurance isn’t just ignored by many Americans — it’s actively avoided because there are some myths about renters insurance out there that have kept people from buying. Here are some of the biggest myths about renters insurance and why they’re wrong.
Myth 1: I don’t need renters insurance because my landlord has insurance.
Many landlords carry building insurance, which protects the structure itself, but not your stuff inside it. If your apartment catches fire, you’ll be able to move back into a rebuilt home once the landlord gets reimbursed by his insurer — but you’ll be on your own when it comes to replacing all your furniture, electronics and clothes. Landlords aren’t responsible for insuring your stuff so don’t assume you’re covered if they have coverage.
So if there’s a fire, or someone breaks in and steals your stuff or let’s just say something unfortunate happens, your landlord’s policy isn’t going to help you at all.
Insurance companies call this “contents coverage,” which is just another term for coverage of your personal possessions. Any renters policy will include this as part of its basic coverage.
Myth 2: I don’t need to insure my stuff because it’s not worth much anyway.
You might think that the TV, stereo and furniture in your apartment aren’t worth much, but they add up quickly. A basic policy starts at about $15 per month and covers all of your possessions up to $30,000. That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind knowing that if anything happens to your possessions you can replace them.
Myth 3: My parents’ homeowners insurance will cover my belongings if I move out of state.
Not so fast! Homeowners policies usually only cover immediate family members who live in the same household. So once you move out on your own, you need your own policy.
For what it’s worth, most policies cover college students for up to 10 months at a time — but it’s important to check with your parents’ insurer to make sure theirs does. Otherwise, you’ll need renters insurance of your own when you move into an off-campus apartment or house after graduation. To get a clearer picture about this, it is advised to do a thorough research on what renters insurance cover, and decide which policy’s terms are best suited to your unique lifestyle, budget, and expectations.
Myth 4: Theft protection only covers items that are stolen from a home.
Renters insurance does not just cover losses from theft that occurs at home. Your policy also covers losses that happen while your property is in a car or if it is packed away in storage.
For example, if someone steals your laptop when you are travelling and the police determine the theft was intentional, your renters insurance can help replace the computer and reimburse you for any lost files.
Myth 5: The claim process is too difficult and time-consuming.
In simplest of words, it kind of depends on what kind of claim you’re making. When you have an issue with your apartment, it’s easy to make a claim because they’re liable.
For example, if part of your ceiling collapses, that’s an easy fix — especially if you have pictures of the damage as proof.
But in case of personal items like jewellery or electronics, the claims process can get complicated. Your policy should cover those items outside of your home (if they’re stolen from your car or off your body), but once again, you’ll need to provide documentation.
Ideally, you should take pictures of everything for proper documentation on your behalf. If you do this when you just move in, things would be easier for you to deal with if something wrong happens.
Myth 6: Renters insurance is expensive.
Renters insurance is often inexpensive. The average renters policy costs somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200 per year, which is a small investment considering the average renters policy offers $30,000 to $50,000 in personal property coverage and typically comes with $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage.
To put those figures in perspective, consider that you could replace all your belongings for about the cost of a two-week vacation. In addition, your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged in a fire or other disaster.
Myth 7: Renters insurance is not worth it because I don’t have much stuff.
“People see their belongings as a small amount of stuff. But if you start adding up the cost to replace it, it’s really quite a bit,” says Laura Adams, life insurance expert, and host of the Money Girl podcast. “There are so many different things that can happen to your belongings.”
What’s more, renters insurance covers more than just your possessions. It also protects you from liability lawsuits and pays for your housing costs in case you have to leave your apartment due to damage.
The average renter’s policy costs just $187 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. That’s only $15.58 per month, or about 50 cents per day. If you’re renting a one-bedroom apartment in the U.S., that’s likely to be less than your monthly cable bill—that doesn’t sound like it’ll drill a hole in your home.