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.

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.

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.

Renters insurance can be a student’s safety net

An increasing number of students choose to live off-campus, more often because it entails an increased level of independence and flexibility. While the experience is indeed rewarding and can ease a person’s transition into adulthood, there are a few things that every off-campus student needs to be aware of and eventually face: monthly rent and inherent expenses, food and utilities.

The harsh reality is that many young people ignore the responsibilities that come with independent living and end up losing thousands of dollars’ worth of personal property as a consequence of burglary, fire, natural disasters or other such happenings. One way to make sure you stay protected should disaster strike is to get renter’s insurance.

As a student, you might be tempted to think that you don’t own so many valuable things so as to need them protected; or that your personal property is covered under the landlord’s insurance; yet that’s generally not the case. Almost everyone nowadays owns a computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or bicycle. Just imagine what if all your clothes, footwear, textbooks, electronics, furniture or other belongings were destroyed by fire. Or you came home to a burglarized apartment after the holidays. Would you be able to replace everything immediately, out of pocket?

Renter’s insurance has the same purpose as homeowner’s insurance; to minimize the damage caused by a number of “named perils”, normally specified in your individual policy. Such instances include loss of personal possessions due to theft, smoke, vandalism, lightning, windstorm and more.

Additionally, renters insurance provides liability coverage should a guest be accidentally injured or their property damaged while in your home. ResidentShield’s insurance for renters includes coverage of up to $500 per person and $10,000 per accident, ($25,000 in Texas), regardless of fault.

It can also provide you with additional living expenses over and above your normal living expenses should you be forced to temporarily move out as a result of fire or other covered hazards.

Renters insurance is a good idea any way you look at it, and is relatively inexpensive. The average cost of a renter’s insurance policy is about $15 – $20 per month. It’s a small price to pay considering that it pays for your peace of mind, wouldn’t you say?

Can you share your renter’s insurance?

If you’re a renter, you need to protect yourself and your belongings. Keep in mind that your landlord’s homeowner insurance only protects their property, not the property of their tenants, and get your renter’s insurance.

If you’re a renter with a roommate, you’re probably pondering if you can share your policy and if it’s worth the split. Renter’s insurance is designed for single people, married couples, and families who co-own their valuables. If you’re single and co-habitate, your renter’s insurance could cover your roommate’s items, but think twice before signing up for a shared insurance.

Sharing renter’s insurance with a roommate might not be available in all states and on all policies, but if you have it available, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. The insurance company uses as insurable everything you inventory to determine the overall price of your policy, thus the more items, the higher the premium. The premiums take into account the value of the property being insured; your roommate’s expensive laptop could send your premium up. You might be thinking that splitting a higher premium is cheaper than paying your own; if so, picture deciding your portion of the deductible and dividing up the payout… doesn’t it feel more prudent to purchase separate policies and keep your finances separate?

Know that a renter’s insurance policy is also a liability policy. This means that if your roommate ends up being sued due to an irresponsible act, the respective legal suit will affect your insurance rating, so make sure you trust your roommate before you enter into a legal agreement with him/her. Furthermore, when the roommate moves out, you have the responsibility to remove his/her name from the policy and that cannot be done without their written consent. More hassle also applies when a mutual renter’s policy is to be cashed – it requires multiple signatures first.

Even in the case where your roommate is your significant other, it’s wisest that you save a shared policy until after the wedding. Many insurance companies extend the coverage to domestic partners, but here you can run into a new set of issues because the methods by which a domestic partner is defined differ. Some define a roommate as someone who is not related to you either by marriage or family affiliation but with whom you simply share residence. Therefore, your spouse is not considered a roommate and you still need to take out two renter’s policies if you are married.

Either way you choose to go with your renter’s insurance, remember to ask the agent about the discount applied for “protective devices” such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Discounts such as this one are a safer bet for saving money than splitting your policy with your roommate.

Why renters insurance is a must

The number of renter-occupied homes has seen a consistent growth in recent years, with the U.S. homeownership rate at historically low levels. By the numbers, the share of Americans who own their homes was 65.3 percent in the third quarter of 2013, down 0.2 percentage points from the third quarter 2012, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Renter-occupied units made up 30.0 percent of the inventory of occupied homes in the third quarter.

Beside the economic considerations, demographic trends and a lack of available housing units have caused a spike in rental rates, with the median asking rent reaching $736 during the quarter.

In the current context, knowing the basics of renter’s insurance becomes a necessity and can act as leverage when trying to secure a home. Many landlords are now incorporating insurance clauses in the lease agreements that require tenants to buy renters insurance before signing the lease.

Much like homeowners’ insurance, rental insurance acts as a buffer against a wide array of mishaps that might cause the loss or destruction of personal property.

Coverage. By acquiring renter’s insurance, your possessions are protected in case of fire, theft, vandalism windstorm, lightning, and other unexpected events. Earthquake coverage is optional and available only in California.

Additionally, renters insurance provides coverage for medical expenses and personal liability claims. If a guest for example gets accidentally injured while on your property, the policy pays legal defense costs if you are taken to court. Everything from slip-and-fall injuries to cat scratches and dog bites can be covered without much ado.

Additional living expenses are also covered if your apartment or rental home becomes temporarily unavailable due to a covered loss, such as contamination, fire or smoke.

Assets. The value of your assets is very important as it will influence the amount of coverage you will want to purchase. It’s often a good idea to keep an inventory of your possessions, be it by taking photos, holding on to receipts of purchase, credit card statements, owner’s manuals, or making a video of your home.

Costs. Generally, the premium is relatively inexpensive as it only covers the value of the tenant’s personal possessions not the physical building. When it comes to selecting a policy type, you can choose between replacement cost or actual cash value coverage. Actual cash value policies are generally less expensive as they pay to replace your belongings minus a deduction for depreciation. The price of a replacement cost policy is about 10 percent more but will reimburse you for the loss of your possessions without accounting for depreciation up to the limit of your policy.

How do you return to normal after a home fire?

Every year fires kill in the United States more than 2,500 people and over 12,600 end up with serious injuries. Direct property loss due to home fires is estimated at $7.3 billion annually. Terrifying numbers.

Recovering from a fire can be extremely difficult, both physically and mentally, returning to Normal may seem impossible at the time. Quite often, the hardest part is knowing where to start and who to contact.

INSURANCE

The first thing you need to do is contact your insurance company or agent; after that call your landlord. The insurance people will give you detailed information on your home’s immediate needs such as pumping out water, covering door, windows and any other openings. They will probably ask you to make a detailed list of everything that was damaged by the fire. They will tell you what you should do to keep your home safe until it is repaired.

If you are uninsured and in need of shelter, food and medicines, contact the local disaster relief service, like The Red Cross.

fire in apartment complex

At the residence

Do not enter a damaged house or apartment unless you received the OK from the fire department. Roofs, walls and floors may be damaged and could fall down.

Do not reconnect the utility services by yourself if the firefighters disconnected them before they left.

Do not throw away any damaged belongings until they are inventoried.

Documents and Finances

Contact your credit card company and report credit cards lost in the fire and ask for replacements. Try to find documents and records, if you can’t find any you will have to replace them. Save all receipts for the money you spend, they will serve you to demonstrate to the insurance company how much money you have spent with the fire loss.

Have a safe holiday season!