With housing prices continuing to climb in the Charleston area, many adults are choosing to rent instead of buy. Even though renting releases you of many responsibilities that would come along with owning a home, like mowing the grass and painting the house, you still have a responsibility to any guests you may have as well as yourself. You CANNOT afford to not have renter’s insurance. If you’re shopping around for a good policy, make sure to ask these 8 questions:
- What’s covered, and for how much? Most policies cover such personal belongings as furniture, clothing, jewelry, electronics and appliances, but only up to your policy limits. So, be sure to take the value of all your belongings into account before selecting your coverage levels. It should be easy if you have a home inventory, a detailed list of all of your personal possessions along with their estimated value. An up-to-date inventory will also help to speed up and simplify the claim-filing process.
- Do I need additional coverage for some of my things? Standard policies may limit coverage for such valuable items as jewelry, furs, firearms, coin collections and silverware to a set dollar amount. Computer equipment may also not be included if you use it primarily for business purposes. Supplemental coverage is typically available in both cases.
- When am I covered? Typically insurance covers losses due to theft, fire, smoke, explosions and water damage due to leaky pipes and overflows. Storm and flood coverage can vary. Oftentimes, if your renters policy covers an incident inside your home, it covers it outside your home, too. So, you may have the same coverage if something valuable is stolen from your car as you would have if it were stolen from your home. Keep in mind that, for any loss, you’ll need to pay your renters insurance deductible first before your insurance coverage kicks in.
- Actual cash value or replacement cost? Here’s where you want to stop and think about how you’d want to go about replacing lost, stolen or damaged items. Say you have a previous-generation TV, and it’s stolen. If you’d be okay replacing it with another previous-generation TV, then an actual cash value policy may be just fine for you. However, if you’d want to replace it with a brand new TV, you may want to think about replacement cost coverage. It typically costs about 10 percent more than actual cash value coverage, but it may be worth it to you. Essentially, actual cash value takes depreciation into account so that you are reimbursed based on what the item is worth today rather than when you bought it. Replacement cost coverage is designed to reimburse you based on what it would cost to purchase a new replacement at today’s prices.
- How much liability coverage do I need? Renters insurance typically provides liability protection that pays for both the cost of defending you in court and court awards—up to the limit of your policy. A standard policy may provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage, but additional amounts are often available at a relatively low cost.
- What about roommates—human and otherwise? Renters insurance automatically covers spouses and immediate family members in the same household, but a roommate must be specifically named in the policy. Be sure to keep the policy up to date; damage checks may be issued to both parties, even if one has moved out. As for dogs, check with your independent insurance agent about what kind of coverage you may have.
- What if I need to move out during repairs? If you can’t live in your rented home while it’s being repaired or rebuilt after a covered loss, most renters insurance policies will help with the costs. This falls under your additional living expenses coverage. It may help with hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals and other expenses. Be sure to check on financial and duration limits.
- How can I save on renters insurance? If you’d like to pay less for your renters insurance, consider insuring your car or personal watercraft with the same carrier as your dwelling. This often gets you a multi-policy discount. You may also elect to have a higher deductible or to pay the entire cost of your policy at once rather than spreading it out through the year. Both can help you save on renters insurance in many cases.
(c) SafeCo Insurance.