Protecting your personal property and identity

For personal property protection and liability coverage in cases of fire, weather damage, robbery and more ResidentShield Renters Insurance has you covered, but more and more we are seeing the importance of protecting yourself against identity theft. Now more than ever, renters must be aware of potential access points to their information in the real world and online.

watch for password theft

According to PrivacyRights.org, identity theft affects more than 8 million Americans. While that number is woefully high, fraudulent activities have decreased since their record high of 55.7 billion worldwide in 2006. Much of the decline can be attributed to institutions’ and businesses’ increased security investments to protect clients. The wise actions of residents also contribute to a significant portion of the decline.

There are a few simple things that you can do to protect your identity at home, on the internet and in your neighborhood:

  • Shred unwanted financial and personal documents instead of simply placing them in the trash.
  • Completely clear cookies, history, and all system caches on public computers after use.
  • Never access online banking on public computers. Technology exists to let remote users view your screen and any information that your type into a field whiles you’re online.
  • If you do not plan to buy a home, car, or other large investment in the near future, consider freezing your credit. This prevents the unauthorized opening of additional lines of credit in your name.
  • While on the web, don’t bother with “You’ve Won…” banners. No one wants to give you anything for free. Best case scenario is that you’re caught filling out a grueling survey. Worst case scenario is that you click the banner and inadvertently download spyware, viruses, and other dangers to your system.
  • If you’re filing your taxes at a center, take a thorough look around before accepting service. How are documents stored? Are files easily accessible to anyone passing by?

When it comes to storing personal property and documentation within your rental, keep these points in mind.

  • Keep copies of personal documents in a safe place outside of the home, like a safe deposit box.
  • Ensure that sensitive documents within the home are in a secure, obscure location.

 

Transferring renter’s insurance to your new apartment

Moving to a new location doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need a new insurance policy or provider. With Resident Shield, it’s easy to transfer your coverage to your new home.

couple moving

Within the State

Moving into a new apartment is hectic enough without worrying about your renters insurance. (You just want to make sure that the rental truck delivers all of your possessions promptly and intact!)  To make life easier, Resident Shield has created a convenient system for transferring your policy to your new apartment. Simply give us a call at 1-800-566-1186. A specialist will note your new address and you’re done! Resident Shield will send a proof of insurance document to the new management office on your behalf.

It’s common to buy new items when moving to a new apartment. When you call, notify the representative of any recent purchases such as appliances, entertainment equipment, furniture, etc. These could increase the estimated value of your possessions. You’ll want to make sure that they’re covered, too.

Out of State

Renters that relocate out of state can follow the same procedure. Give us a call with your new address and any additions and we will handle the rest. Keep in mind, however, that premiums are different from state to state. You may experience an increase or decrease in your premium once you move, though your coverage remains the same.

New roommate

If your change in location has also resulted in a new roommate, let us know immediately. Up to two adults roommates (including spouses) can be placed on your policy as insured persons. It is important to keep this information up to date to ensure proper coverage.

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 for Using Your Apartment as a Vacation Rental

Websites like AirBnB and VRBO make it seem easy to turn your rental into an income property. Simply create a profile, take a few good pictures, and wait for the offers to start rolling in, right? Not quite. There are several things that you should know before attempting to rent out your apartment as a short-term vacation rental.

Check local laws. Orange County California, for example, has placed restrictions on subletting. The lease must last 30 days or longer. Otherwise, the property owner or leaseholder will be subject to hefty fees. Check local policy for guidelines rentals.

Consult property management. Not all property managers allow tenants to sublet their space for any duration of time. Be sure to notify your property manager of your intentions and receive his or her approval before renting out your space.

Get renters insurance. While there are services particularly for vacation rentals, you may find that these are not right for you–especially if you don’t plan to have guests often. Traditional renters insurance provides much of the coverage that you’ll need to entertain vacationing guests. Resident Shield policies protect your property from fire, theft, vandalism, smoke, lightning and windstorms. You can also receive personal liability protection and coverage for guest medical expenses.

Verify that your existing policy is up to date. It’s common for renters to spruce up their apartments to make the space more marketable. If you add TVs to guest rooms, new furniture, or ultra-luxurious Egyptian cotton linens, document your changes. Update your insurance policy to reflect your additions so that your coverage shows the accurate value of your possessions.

Post community ordinances for guests. Many rental communities have ordinances that make the neighborhood more enjoyable for everyone. Pool hours, noise ordinances, parking restrictions, designated smoking areas and other important rules should be verbally communicated to guests. You should also post these rules in writing. When your guests abide by the rules, your neighbors will be happier and you may maintain the privilege of subletting your rental.

Sentimental value has no price tag. Face it: thefts happen. If you have an item of deep sentimental value, or something that’s impossible to replace, remove it from the property. Consider storing it in a safe location off-site when you have guests staying at the property.

Consider a background check. Background checks are optional but they may be worth the additional expense. If you will stay on the property while guests are present, it’s wise to make sure that you are in good company.

Change credentials regularly. If your community gate or security system requires individualized credentials, be sure to change your password regularly. This is to protect yourself and your neighbors from guests returning uninvited. If your security features have community-wide access codes, these should not be shared with guests. Contact your leasing office for guest access.

True stories: Why real life guys bought renter’s insurance

Four male renters share their stories on the events that lead to policies.

If you’ve lived a pristine life, it’s easy to think that renters insurance simply isn’t worth the cost. It only takes one event to remind you that anything can happen at any time. It’s best to be prepared. Follow three 20-something male renters on their journey toward discovery.

“I swear, I couldn’t make this up if I tried: so we were walking back to my house after a night out. It was maybe 2am. My friend Ben was trying to recoup, chugging some water, and he was just goofing around with one of our friends when he spilled water onto this car in the parking lot. Out of nowhere, this guy started chasing us, yelling about messing up his car. Ben shouted that it was just water but when the guy and his crew starting coming after us we just started running like, we didn’t want to stick around and see if the guy would accept an apology. We jumped a few fences and just when we’re getting to my backyard, to my fence, Ben face-plants.  Eats dirt. I went back for him and saw he tore up his leg. On my property, right, and not a step before. He started yelling about how he was going to sue me. We took him to the hospital and he got five stiches. Not too bad. I still thought he was still going to sue me but he didn’t. It made me wonder, though, What would I have done if he had sued me? I didn’t have renters insurance then but I got it after that.” Greg H.

“I guess the core of the turkey was still frozen when I put it in the fryer. [The fryer] exploded on the counter. Oil spread and set fire to some stuff that was already the stove cooking. We’ve got a gas range. In seconds flames were reaching the cabinets and our mat near the sink, the gel one, was lit up. Everybody got out okay but about 30 percent of the kitchen burned. Not even a week before, we were deciding if we should renew our insurance policy. Needless to say, we did after that.” Phill D.

“We debated between P90X and Insanity workout and decided we’d do Insanity because of Shaun T. He’s more entertaining than the other guy. We were following the program for about three weeks. My roommate’s girlfriend came over and did a video with us one day. My roommate decided to show off. He strapped on these ankle weights. About twenty minutes into power and resistance, one of the weights flung off and hit his girlfriend! It took the wind out of her and bruised her collar area. A few centimeters higher and it could’ve been serious. She didn’t take anybody to court but she could have and we would’ve been up the creek.” Immanuel H.

“My friend was asking if he should get more serious about this girl and I said, ‘She’s wife material, man. When you see a girl like that you’d better jump on it.’ My girlfriend got upset and left. I thought that was that. She came back later and spray painted some choice words on our place, something about seven years wasted. Not cool. We had to repaint the front of the house and it cost about two grand. We could’ve gotten insurance for about a fourth of that price, for the whole year, but we didn’t so we paid out of pocket.” Interviewer: Are you and your girlfriend still together? “Yeah we’re back together but we got renters insurance now!”

Get ready before you need to file a renters insurance claim

No one wants to imagine the worse befalling your rental yet the reality of natural disasters and crime is too prevalent to ignore. Don’t wait until it is time to file a renters insurance claim to learn the best course of action; a bit of early preparation can make the process easier and more efficient.

1. Take inventory. Assess your belongings and get an accurate understanding of their value. Take depreciation into account as well; the TV you purchased for $800 three years ago is no longer worth $800.

Happy family in a house.

2. Create a portfolio of your belongings, accompanied by photographs and brief descriptions. Save these to a cloud or off-site location. This portfolio will be valuable if you ever need to file a claim.

3. Use the assessment of your property to determine the best coverage package for your needs. Your renters’ insurance representative will be able to assist you.

4. File claims wisely. Not all incidents are worth a call to your insurance company. For instance, a relatively inexpensive yet sentimental piece of jewelry stolen during a house party is less significant than an numerous electronics stolen while you’re away on vacation. File what would be considered a significant financial loss and minimize petty claims to avoid being considered a risk.

5. When you have encountered a problem, document it using photographs, descriptions, and any other pertinent information. Create an electronic document of all the necessary information while it is still fresh on your mind. Contact your insurance representative as soon as possible.

6. If you must make repairs in the interim of the proceedings, contact your insurance company for recommended businesses in your area. Get details of what you need to do to be fully reimbursed. Keep all receipts.

7. Your complete cooperation is needed to process your claim quickly and correctly. Be sure to return phone calls and answer questions promptly.

Need insurance? Factors influencing your renters insurance rate

Shocker: you and your neighbor are paying different rates for renters insurance. You both live on the same side of town, in the same community, in the same sized unit. What gives?

There are quite a few factors that determine your renters insurance rate.

Where are you living?
Where you live affects your insurance rate. Renters living in high risk areas, such as those with elevated crime rates, will likely be charged a higher premium.
Sky-high renters can enjoy excellent city views but those views come with a price, in more ways than one. In addition to higher price tags, renters insurance for high-rise communities often costs more.

What are you insuring?
How you’ve chosen to spend your money in the past will be a determining factor in how much coverage you request. If you’re a first time renter with hand-me-down furniture and secondhand clothing, you probably won’t need to spend much on coverage because it won’t cost much to replace those things. If you’re a renter who has invested oodles of money into your furniture sets, electronics, and clothing then you’ll want more coverage to help replace the costs of those items in an emergency.

What’s your insurance history?

Unfortunately, renters are expected to pay their insurance every month yet are penalized for making claims. That’s just how insurance works. If you’ve made multiple claims in the past, you are considered to be a risk to the company. You may find that you’re charged a higher premium than a neighbor without previous claims.
How safe is your neighborhood?
If you’re living in an apartment community with upgraded safety features, you could receive a discounted rate. Communities with guarded entries, security systems, sprinkler systems, dead bolt locks and other safety measures are considered more secure and are therefore less costly to ensure.

3 Renters, 3 Reasons for Renters Insurance

Learn three great reasons to invest in renters insurance from renters just like you!

With all of the hiccups that life may throw your way, a safety net definitely comes in handy. Renters insurance provides a safety net for tenants. Meet three renters whose insurance policies came to the rescue when they needed it most.

Property Replacement

“After my family vacation, I returned to my apartment to find a funky smell. It was humid, too. Since it was late at night and I was tired, I said I would figure it out in the morning so I went to sleep. I woke up to mold! While I was away, water started coming in around the bay windows and this patchy black mold grew on the wall and carpet. My couch had also been damaged by the water and was discolored. The landlord repaired the window and replaced the carpet but he said I was on my own about the couch. Thankfully I had renters insurance. It didn’t take long before I was able to replace the damaged couch without paying a dime.” -Shannon E., 27

Robbery Recuperation

“Maybe I’m too generous or naïve but these three really cool people I met at ComiCon showed up in Atlanta with nothing but costumes and a dream. They figured they could get a hotel when they got here but everything was sold out, of course. So I told them they could crash at my place. Yeah, I know that’s dangerous but Con attendees are kindred spirits or whatever so I thought it would be fine. They came. They slept. They left…and I guess they came and left again with more than they started off with. I think they scouted out my place and came back later. They didn’t steal anything normal like jewelry or cash, which I could’ve forgiven, but they took my freaking custom Playstation 3 controller. It’s gold, pink, bedazzled and amazing.

I filed a claim and the insurance company gave me the money to replace it. It made it even easier that I was able to print a copy of the e-receipt from the creator. That helped them confirm its worth. I got another controller that shines just as much as the old one.” –Renee C., 25

Vandalism Repair

“A few years ago, I rented a place with a couple of college friends. One of them started some trouble. I don’t know what about. Some guys came by one night and completely trashed our deck, which is where we hung out the most, and busted out some of the basement windows. They turned the water hose on and fed it through a window. I think someone urinated in the room, too. The guy who owned the house had a renters insurance policy that we were in on; we all paid four months out of the year. That ended up covering the cost of repairing and repainting the deck, and fixing the soaked room. The guy whose room got drenched had some furniture replaced. While the repairs were going on in the basement, he was put up in a hotel which was nicer than his basement room, anyway, so that worked out well.” -Manuel A., 33

Want your own happily ever after? Getting the right coverage is essential to making sure that life’s unpleasant surprises don’t set you back. Use the contents calculator to determine how much coverage is right for you, then get a free quote online.

Got pets? Get renters insurance

You thought you got off easy by locating an apartment community that doesn’t require renters insurance. Truth is, you’re better off with it than without it, especially if you own a pet.

When you’re looking down into the beautiful hazel eyes of your pit bull puppy Mischief, I hope you realize that little fuzz ball is an accident waiting to happen. Be prepared. I say that with the most compassion possible since I, too, am a pet owner.

Dog and woman playing on a sofa

Pets are unpredictable. That’s what makes them dangerous. It isn’t that Mischief has cruel intentions or that he is plotting something horrendous as you sleep. The little bugger is likely to cause trouble just being there.

Case in point: lots of pets love to cuddle. They enjoy hanging around the human types and being in on the action. Welcome problems. Obnoxious eight year old steps on teenage Mischief’s tale the dog bites back instinctively—possible lawsuit. Your cat, who aims to sneak a morsel of fish from the kitchen, slithers past your aunt’s legs causing her to fall and dislocate her hip—pending medical bills. Even the sweetest animals can cause problems for you and your guests.

Renters insurance is a stellar idea because it covers your guests’ medical bills when they are injured on your property. Everything from getting whacked in the head with a birdcage to slipping on a chew toy can be covered without much ado.

Your insurance also covers injuries inflicted by pets such as severe cat scratches, dog bites, maybe even being partially ingested by a boa constrictor… the insurance pays for itself in that case. I mean, who is going to argue?

Last but not least, in tight rental markets, having renters insurance may give you an advantage over other applicants with pets that aren’t insured. You and your pet are seen as less of a liability to the landlord and therefore you’re much more appealing tenants.

Do the research. Most insurance policies can cover you, your pet, and your property for around a dollar a day. It’s a wise investment with looking into.

Stay protected against summer hazards with renters insurance

With summer in full swing, you may be thinking about your next vacation rather than the necessity of renters insurance. Summer, however, is the perfect time to invest in coverage. Enjoy visitors, travel and summer weather with the financial safety net that renters insurance provides.

DIY Gone Awry Renters love to save cash. If you plan on cutting labor costs by having your friends help install your new retractable awning, you can save more than enough to buy them a hero’s dinner. That is, unless the ladder isn’t as stable as it first looked and you’re uninsured. With renters insurance, you’ll be glad that you can cover guest medical payments up to $500 per person and $10,000 per accident. That’s what friends are for.

Fire Damage For all of our novel inventions and discoveries since antiquity, we humans have yet to master fire. The risk of fire damage to your rental can come from every direction during the summer: a barbecue gone wrong, an out of control fire pit, romantic candlelight blown into the draperies by the open window. Some residents must also be mindful of forest fires or their neighbors’ fire mishaps. Fires aren’t just a winter concern. They can also pose a hazard during the warm days of summer. With renters insurance, your property and guests are protected against fire damage.

 

Pool Injuries Pool parties are an excellent way to pass the dog-days of the season. Nothing refreshes the body like a pool of sparkling blue water. With renters insurance liability coverage, you’ve got protection against slips, falls, and that one kid who insists on running 30 miles an hour around the pool and who will inevitably trip. Renters insurance provides up to $100,000 of coverage against common personal liability claims.

Doggie Play Date Bites Sun-drenched days make Fido’s daily jogs around the neighborhood seem like cruel and unusual punishment for pet owners. It’s much easier (and probably more fun for him, too) to give him exercise by arranging a play date with another dog owner. If the getting-to-know-you phase doesn’t turn out as planned, a dog bite may occur. Renters insurance’s liability provision covers dog bite injuries up to a maximum limit of $25,000.

Vacation Vandals You come back from your much-needed summer vacation to discover that your former students paid you a visit. You can tell by the dried egg yolks, soggy toilet paper, and gallons of shaving cream that now decorate your rental. The broken window was probably caused by that chemistry book laying on your dining room floor. And where is your P90X collection? Fortunately, renters insurance protects up to your selected policy limits against vandalism and theft.

Receive excellent coverage against summer hazards with nominal monthly payments. Speak with an insurance specialist today to begin your journey towards a safer, more secure rental experience.