Living off campus? Don’t forget the renter’s insurance

For all the students out there, at this moment in your life, you’re either living in a campus or in a rented apartment. Those of you who live on the campus site don’t have to worry about renters insurance as your parents’ homeowner’s policy should be enough to cover the loss or damage of the majority of items, considering that their policy includes the off-premise coverage.

However, things change as soon as you decide to move off-campus and pay rent. From this point on, you are no longer protected by your parents’ policy. Don’t expect to have your landlord’s policy cover your items, because it doesn’t, it only covers the building, not the tenant’s belongings.

In case your roommate has purchased renter’s insurance, do not rely on it to cover all your belongings; you can buy a policy together if you’d like and think it’s best for you, but even so make sure you have taken into account all aspects.

Renter’s insurance offers tridimensional protection:

        I.            Against loss or damage to your personal property (in case of fire, lightning…)

Make an inventory of all your belongings, along with photos or video of each room. Keep the receipts for major items and store them in a safe place away from your house or apartment. It will help you if you ever need to file a claim.

     II.            Against accidents on your property that injure other people (someone slips in your shower and gets hurt, or stumbles down the steps into the glass of the front door, ending up with a terrible wound that needs 27 stiches in their arm, or your dog bites someone).

   III.            Against damage to the property of other people (you’ve borrowed a typewriter from your friend, put it on a table near the window for inspiration, and a tree falls, crashes through the window and destroys the typewriter. You’re good for payment.)

Keep in mind that in many states whatever happens on your premise is your responsibility. Your renter’s policy is your best shield against lawsuits due to liability issues.

The National Association of Insurance advises and encourages all renters to add the renter’s insurance to their ‘must-have’ list because it offers much needed, undervalued security. Get your free online renters insurance quote and get started.

What rental insurance can do for you

As much as we’d like to think we’re safe and bad things could not happen to us, the truth is misfortunes tend to come about unannounced; they are part of life and, while sometimes there’s no way we can stop them from happening, we can do our best to try to minimize their impact.

Take fires for example; you’d be tempted to think that your apartment is safe, that you’ve taken all the precautionary measures, fire inspections are up-to-date and you’re careful enough not to cause any accidents yourself. Yet, you can never assume the same thing about your neighbors. A single cigarette butt left in the astray unattended can result in fire wreaking havoc upon the entire apartment. Moreover, once the fire breaks loose, it can easily spread from one unit to another, causing thousands of dollars’ worth of property damage, or worse. Did you know almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials every year? Additionally, studies show that twenty-five percent of those suffering from smoking home fires are neighbors or friends of the smokers.

One way to minimize damage in the event of such mishaps coming your way is by acquiring renters insurance. It shouldn’t cost much more than a few hundred dollars a year, unless you possess a lot of expensive things like fine art, a designer wardrobe, or costly jewelry. And even then, it’s still a sensible expense to add to your monthly budget, maybe even more so since you’ve got much more to lose if something bad happens. You just need to inform your agent and ask for a quotation based on the actual value of the items you possess.

What can rental insurance do for you?  The ResidentShield renter’s insurance plan can help:

  • protect you against the financial risk associated with property loss in the event of a covered peril including fire, windstorm, lightning, hail, theft, and vandalism;
  • insure full replacement value for your personal property and that of your neighbors, including furniture, clothing, electronic equipment, jewelry, etc.;
  • protect you against liability claims (including liability provision for dog bites);
  • cover accidental injuries of house guests while on your apartment grounds;
  • provide you with temporary living expenses over and above your normal living expenses if your abode is covered in the loss.

Just think, why take a chance when the solution is that easy? Stay savvy!

A reasonable requirement

Renters are being asked to be adopt practices of increased responsibility for their possessions. Currently, signing a lease doesn’t always require renter’s insurance, but this is slowly turned into a compulsory requirement.

A survey of large apartment owners by the National Multi Housing Council revealed that 84 percent that required residents in at least some — if not all of their properties to have insurance, up from 62 percent the previous year.

“We started requiring renters insurance in 2007, and we were on the forefront of doing that,” reported Shanna Teague Berrien, director of insurance risk for CWS Apartment Homes in Austin, Texas, and a member of the National Apartment Association. “In the last three years, everybody who’s anybody has made that a requirement.”

 

Generally, all bigger complexes ask for their renters to have their belongings ensured, just because it’s a good idea for both parties involved:

  • For the renter, it provides protection against catastrophic events. If the apartment complex where the renter lives burns down, the renter’s insurance will cover replacing the contents of his/her apartment.
  • Landlords can use the tenant’s liability coverage, up to the policy’s limit, in the case where the renter causes a fire that destroys several units. Typically the owner’s property insurance would pay for the repairs and then, the landlord’s insurer would seek reimbursement from the tenant’s insurer. This reimbursement would include recovery of the owner’s deductible, saving the landlord thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Another bonus for both parties is cost savings —  insurers often offer discounts to apartment complexes that ask their tenants to have renters insurance, and renters can enjoy the reduced rates.

Renters insurance is growing, mostly because renters are forced into it. Those who aren’t, simply skip it, thus explaining the small percentage of renters who own such insurance – 31 percent. Researchers show that despite efforts to educate the renter on the importance of renters insurance, most of them still don’t understand  the concept correctly – many believe that in case of fire or water damage the landlord’s insurance will cover their belongings as well, which is not the case. Better safe than sorry, and better off insured.

Tips to prepare for the big move

Flexibility and mobility have become common traits of today’s American population, and we sure do love moving. Or rather, we no longer feel confined by state limits and, when the need arises, we can easily relocate without much fuss. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, about 16.8 million people moved into a different county within a year in the U.S., between 2007 and 2011, with the most common county-to-county moves being from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, California (41,764 people) and Los Angeles to Orange, California (an estimated 40,764).

Among all the nation’s counties, Maricopa (which includes the city of Phoenix) gained movers from the largest group of counties (957). Maricopa also lost movers to the largest number of counties (1,190).

Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, New York and Baltimore metros have been among the top moving destinations for domestic movers, alongside the Los Angeles and Riverside-San Bernardino metro areas. When including movements from abroad, one of the five largest flows was the 35,209 who moved from Asia to Los Angeles County, California, Census data shows.

To make moving easier, the Census Bureau has introduced a new app called dwellr which can help people on-the-go gain access to key demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics for thousands of places across the country. Powered by American Community Survey statistics, dwellr can pull up a list of U.S. locations that matches users’ preferences for such variables as city size, geographic region, job type and income.

Whether following the jobs trail, joining a life partner, or simply pursuing lifestyle dreams, moving has become a natural step in one’s journey through life. In case you’re getting ready to change residences yourself, we’ve prepared a few tips to help you get started. Moving means that you’ll be uprooting your life entirely which makes it a delicate matter. Rather than looking at it like as a dreaded chore, you can plan the whole process ahead and turn it into a happy memory.

Start by compiling a checklist of actions you need to complete before moving. Plan on what to take and buy packing supplies such as moving boxes, packing paper, tape, etc. To make things right, it would be better if you could start packing at least 3 to 5 weeks in advance. Don’t forget to label boxes on the top and sides, and mark as “fragile” when required.

Go over important documents, such as contracts, leases and payment, update details or set up end-of-service dates with services providers as required. There are certain contracts that take care of themselves, even if you change residences. Your renter’s insurance policy for example remains in force if you move to a new location within the same state. You just have to inform your insurer of the move and provide them with the new address location.

Then, make sure you re-direct subscriptions to your new address and schedule your utility turn-ons, including water, power, gas, trash, cable and internet.

Now that you’re all packed and ready to go, you may rejoice as you’ve made it. You’ve stepped into a new chapter of your life.

Spring – a time to review and renew

Spring brings with it not only blossoming trees and sunny skies, but also storms. Now is the perfect time to review your policies to make sure you have the adequate coverage, and also to prepare a home inventory.

Call your insurance agent to check if your home and belongings are appropriately covered. Don’t wait until after you suffer a loss to learn what level of protection your policy provides, or to discover you don’t have one at all.

If in the case of homeowners insurance, the most frequent issues appear around policy limits that become outdated; in case of renters, they forego this type of insurance simply because they assume that their landlord’s insurance will cover their belongings as well. Remember that landlords only insure structures, not the possessions the tenants move in with.

Regardless of the property type you choose to rent – be it apartment, condo, or house – take into consideration renters insurance. For an average premium of $30 per month for $20,000- $30,000 of coverage, renters insurance is the most affordable way to keep your belongings safe.

Now is also a good time to review the home inventory. It will help you determine the level of coverage needed, and it will ease up things in case you need to file a claim. To create your home inventory, the easiest way would be to use an app for smartphones. You can find more details about this topic here.

Keep in mind that a standard homeowner and renters insurance policy doesn’t protect your home or belongings from damage caused by floods, earthquakes or sewer and drainage back-ups. Discuss with your agent if you need this additional coverage.

Kick off spring with these home improvement tips

The much-awaited season of warm temperatures, flowery scents and new beginnings is finally here. Let nature’s coming back to life inspire you and give your abode a revitalizing makeover.

We’ve collected a few ideas to help you bring spring into your rental home while also being a good steward of the environment. Because there’s nothing more refreshing than going green this spring, good for Mother Nature, your pocket and your spirit, too.

Spring cleaning. Probably not the favorite part of a spring revamp project, and surely not as fun as St. Patrick’s or April’s Fool’s Day activities, but still rewarding. Giving your home a thorough clean-up will make re-decorating a whole lot easier. Start with de-cluttering your apartment, get rid of all unwanted stuff that might burden the interior, and surprise your family with a neat and airy living space.

Image via Will Taylor: http://ao.com/athome/will-taylor-of-bright-bazaar

Go green while cleaning. It’s often hard to remember the environment while on a de-cluttering spree, yet incorporating a few green practices into your daily routines can do wonders in terms of environmental responsibility. Go over the way you manage your household waste and strive to reduce your garbage output; use eco-friendly products to keep your home smelling fresh and clean; and check for water leaks around the house such as dripping faucets, showerheads, sprinklers, and other fixtures. If everyone does their part to conserve water on a daily basis, we can help stretch our resources and save millions of gallons of pure water that are now wasted.

Brighten up your rental with spring-themed décor. You can start by applying a fresh coat of paint, as long as your lease agreement allows you to make such improvements. Always check with your landlord first. As for making the place your own, there are plenty of creative redecorating options that will not disrupt your pocket’s karma. If you want to keep it simple and practical, paint walls white and use color accents to invigorate the space. Photo frames are an inexpensive way to enhance the decor of any room, as well as fresh flowers and houseplants, throw pillows, rugs, window treatments or art pieces.

Shield against mishaps. Spring is also a great time to go over your home protection plan and review insurance policies. If you haven’t gotten renters’ insurance just yet, you need to re-organize your priorities and start shopping around for a good deal. Know that your landlord’s policy only covers the property itself, the building and the common areas, leaving your personal belongings in peril should disaster strike. I for one wouldn’t want to know my brand new Mac at risk should a thief drop by; nor my Trek mountain bike for that matter. For about 43cents/day, renters insurance can help you protect your possessions, including clothes, TV, computer, furniture, and jewelry, in case of fire, windstorm, lightning, theft, vandalism and other misfortunes. For more information and benefits of getting renters insurance, click here.

Ways to save on renter’s insurance

Renter’s insurance has already reached a very affordable national average (around $30/month), but whenever needed, it proves to be invaluable. Yet, there still are ways to make it even cheaper.

  • Compare renters insurance costs and the coverage it offers to find the one you can afford;
  • Increase your deductible – also known as the amount you pay before the insurance agency makes payments on a claim. Long story short, the higher your deductible is, the lower the premium will be. Your pockets will feel it more at once, but the savings on the rate is often worth the effort.
  • Watch you r credit rating – they go hand in hand, a good credit rating means lower renters insurance cost.
  • Purchase combined policies from the same company – quite many of the insurance companies offer discounts when the insured person combines their renters insurance with the one for their car.
  • Install safety and security devices, such as smoke detectors, dead bolt door locks and window locks, and a fire extinguisher make your homes lees of a security risk and this can lead to savings on your renters insurance.
  • Quit smoking – as smoking is one of the leading causes of residential fires, damaging more than 23,000 homes every year, some insurance providers decided to offer reduced premiums to non-smokers.
  • Senior discounts – renters aged 55 and higher can in some cases get a ten percent discount as research has shown that retired individuals are less risky to insure.
  • Look into group coverage – find out if your employer or other association offers affordable group coverage.
  • Look into a loyalty discount – staying with the same company for three to five years, in many cases can save you up to five percent discount, growing to ten percent after the six-year mark.
  • Review and update your policy on a yearly basis as you might sell, give away or purchase new belongings. Reviewing it annually will allow you to adjust the coverage amounts and thus gives you the potential to save you money.

Reduce the risk of property loss with renter’s insurance

Fire. Theft. Lightning. These are just a few reasons why re-evaluating your home’s preparedness in the face of danger is a good idea. Disaster strikes when you least expect it and may cause a world of trouble if you let it run its course unhindered. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Prevention is key. Look for signs of deterioration in window frames, trim shrubbery or trees that might smash against your windows in the event of a thunderstorm, check for air leakage around pipes, vents and fans, and keep an eye out for mold formation. In addition to causing property damage, mold contamination for example is responsible for creating many health problems too. There are some areas of the home that are specifically prone to mold growth, including the seal on the refrigerator door, window moldings and the shower curtains, and should be a part of your routine cleaning.

As soon as you notice anything out of the ordinary around the house, such as a leaking faucet, a musty smell or any signs of condensation, make sure you inform your landlord and have the problem fixed before it can cause an actual damage.

On the other hand, when faced with the wrath of nature, there’s not much we can do to stop it. But there are ways to minimize its impact. Whether you’re living in a rental apartment, condo, or single-family home, renter’s insurance is your safeguard against property loss. Your insurance policy will help protect your belongings in the event of natural calamities including windstorm, hail and flood, as well as other mishaps like vandalism, or glass breakage.

Rental insurance with ResidentShield can insure full replacement value for your personal property and that of your neighbors in case of fire or other accidents; it can provide you with quick payment for approved claims as well as temporary living expenses over and above your normal living expenses if your apartment becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss.

Moreover, renter’s insurance shields you if your friends or family get physically injured while on the grounds of your apartment.

Keep track of your stuff with a home inventory app

You’ve decided to take the secured path of insuring your belongings, either through renters insurance or home insurance, depending on your housing status. There are different ways you can go about it: use the plain spreadsheet with as many columns and rows as you find necessary, or you can take advantage of the fact that we live in an era where everything is backed up by consumer technology.

Any way you choose to go about it, it’s really important that you take the time and create a thorough inventory. It is too easy to overlook things and in case of a disaster you might end up getting less of a settlement than you would otherwise, because you didn’t report everything.

Developers have worked on making our lives easier and launched a few apps specially designed to meet this purpose. No more stress over that laborious task of compiling inventory with these apps!

Liberty Mutual Home Gallery App: the app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users. Its key features include:

  • it enables you to take photos or your items and receipts of each of them;
  • it catalogues each item by room or category;
  • it allows you to add details for each item or scan the barcode for photos and descriptions;
  • it allows you to add the purchase price and date;
  • has the export function as PDF or Excel file.

Visual Inventory: is the app for you if you’re the visual thinker. All you need to do is take a photo of a room and tag your items. It’s available for iOS and Android.

MyHome Scr.App.book: is the app the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommends. It organizes your belongings by room, it allows you to take photos and scan barcodes for serial numbers. You can back-up your inventory and email the exported files.

Inventory Buddy: this is especially suitable for those who own multiple homes or work as property managers as the app supports an unlimited number of locations for tracking things. Available for iOS only.

Know Your Stuff: is a free web-based service provided by the Insurance Information Institute.  The website will guide you through configuring the rooms in your home and listing the items, each complete with photos and receipts. The information is stored online so that you have access to it from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Green shopping tips for a healthy home

Hitting the sales? Well, it certainly is the right time to embark on a home improvement project since it’s the beginning of a new year and there are so many bargains out there. Before going on a shopping spree though, take a moment to organize and review your priorities.

As the prices are going down, you might be tempted to bag some items that you don’t really need. Instead, you could start by making a list of the things you actually need to start the year off right and pay more attention to quality rather than price. Investing in good quality products may save you money in the long run and, by buying less, you’ll also be lowering your carbon footprint.

We’ve compiled a list of easy tips to help you shop healthier while being a good steward of the environment.

If you’re looking for a new place to live, make sure you include eco-friendliness in your selection criteria. When skimming through rental ads, look for homes that list energy-efficient appliances, and eco-friendly furnishings among the units’ amenities. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 70 percent of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal and natural gas, which releases greenhouse gases and other air pollutants into the atmosphere, thus contributing to climate change and air quality problems. ENERGY STAR-certified products use less energy than conventional models, which helps reduce air pollution and combat global climate change. For example, dishwashers that have earned the ENERGY STAR are on average 10% more energy efficient and 20% more water efficient than standard models.

Living in a rental does indeed limit your greening options as nobody wants to invest in a temporary dwelling; yet there are some things you can do to live healthier without feeling that you’re wasting money. Some improvements will most probably pay for themselves in energy savings while there are others which you can either sell to future tenants or take with you to the next digs. Consider switching to energy-efficient light bulbs to save money and energy and install a programmable thermostat to take control of your heat and cooling levels. That should help you trim your utility bills all year long while saving the environment.

Reuse, recycle, repurpose. These three principles can make all the difference when trying to build a green lifestyle for you and your family. Try to repair before you consider replacing home products, including vacuum cleaners, furniture and TVs. You can also donate items you can’t fix to vocational schools or workshops that will put them to better use.

When shopping for home décor and electronics, do it with sustainability in mind. Choose products and materials that are durable or may be easily disposed of once you no longer need them. You can find plenty of chic room accessories, reclaimed furniture, vintage décor and even sports equipment at your local thrift store.

To support your efforts and ensure your possessions are fully protected, consider purchasing renter’s insurance. Rental insurance from ResidentShield covers a wide array of mishaps that could cause loss of personal property, including fire, smoke, lightning or burglary.