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After Ten Years of Renting, I Finally Have Insurance

This article was written by in Insurance. 15 comments.


I don’t know what I was thinking.

I am getting older. I finished my undergraduate education with a graduation ceremony about years ago. Since graduating, I’ve moved from apartment to apartment, first with a $400 per month one-bedroom place near my college, then back to New Jersey, sharing rent with a variety of roommates. I’ve roomed with friends and strangers in a variety of locations, from suburban apartment complexes to an urban railroad apartment above a grocery store. I’ve dealt with absent roommates, compulsive roommates, scary roommates, and even a few roommates with whom I got along well.

Despite making apartment-living my life, in the past ten years, I have never owner renter’s insurance. For some reason, this is one of those things I’ve managed to delay by allowing the part of my personality that prefers procrastination to prosper. Homeowner’s insurance is required in almost all circumstances, but renter’s insurance usually isn’t. In fact, insurance has never been required in any of the eight locations I’ve lived over the past ten years.

There was a snow storm overnight resulting in almost a foot of the white stuff on the ground, surely wreaking havoc in the roads. The facility managers at the office building where I work decided to close the location for the day. My boss and I determined this morning that there was no need for me to work from home, so I used the day to take care of a few personal tasks. One aspect of this plan was to research renter’s insurance. It was much easier than I had anticipated, and cheap.

I decided to work with the same company with which I have automobile insurance, Liberty Mutual. I originally found them after a long search for the most economical policy through some assistance with AAA. It took only ten minutes on the company’s website to answer a few questions about my living situation and decide how much should be covered by the policy. I received a quote right away that was so low I kicked myself for not taking care of this sooner.

If you rent, there’s no reason not to have renter’s insurance. Now that my home and possessions are covered, I can feel even better about my financial choices. I’ll also feel less nervous when leaving the apartment for weeks at a time.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published March 2, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Nate @ Money Young

Really Flexo? ‘If you rent, there’s no reason not to have renter’s insurance.’ The only things I would want replaced couldn’t be replaced by money. If you are materialistic and have tons of ‘crap’ sure why not throw some more money away to make sure you take care of your crap. Other than that, how about buying so much stuff so what you have to insure is actually worth shelling out the money for it?

As with any type of insurance, if you take the money you are paying for it, stick it in a savings account, soon enough you’ll have your own small insurance ‘fund’ that will only get bigger.

-Nate

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,550 (Platinum)

That’s certainly a valid viewpoint. Self-insuring for whatever it is you think you might need replaced is an option for some. However, you don’t have to be “materialistic” to have items of significant value. For example, some hobbies can be quite expensive without focusing on the “things” that are involved with that hobby.

The real strength of an insurance policy is the coverage of liability. Are you self-insured to cover the possibility of being sued for several hundred thousand dollars if a guest slips on your carpet and breaks his hip? I don’t want to have wages garnished or go deep into debt; it’s worth the less than $100 a year to be protected.

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avatar Scott

I have to disagree with Nate as the last two complexes that my wife and I have lived have *required* insurance as part of the contract. How does it make one materialistic if it is required? I don’t know how things are done in Upstate NY where Nate is from, but in SoCal a lot of rental properties are making it a requirement.

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avatar Alice

I’ve been renting for years (also about 10 years) and never got renter’s insurance until this year. When I called my auto insurance carrier, I found out they offer a discount for having multiple accounts with them. Basically, having 2 accounts with them gave me enough of a discount on my car insurance that the renter’s insurance basically comes out FREE. I’m not kidding. I decided to sign up when a friend of mine had to shop for new car insurance, and learned she’d actually pay $15 LESS per year by also signing up for renter’s insurance with the same company. I was not that lucky, but I’m very happy with my decision, as it’s not any more money out of my pocket, yet I’ve got extra assurance in the event of a flood or fire or something.

They did have 2 different types of policies for me to choose from. I can’t remember the names for the types of coverage, but basically one covers the replacement value, whereas the other covered the original value. The cost of the replacement value coverage was more expensive, since it’s assumed your belongings (electronics, especially) depreciate over time. I went with the cheaper one since my stuff is not that nice anyway! If I had taken the move expensive policy, I would have ended up paying about $10 more per year. It’s really ridiculously inexpensive.

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avatar Stephanie PTY

Yep, that seems fairly common. I went with an ex-boyfriend to sign up for insurance for his new apartment, and it cost him nothing – absolutely nothing, because he bundled it with his existing auto insurance at State Farm. So I definitely disagree with the first commenter (Nate). This is definitely something worth looking into, if nothing else.

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avatar Mrs. Micah

It would take 10 years of paying rental insurance just to replace our computers. For that alone, I think it’s worthwhile. We also got it because a) we want to be covered in case of liability and b) it’s required in the contract (though it took us about 6 months to get it taken care of).

Congrats on being covered! It’s a nice feeling, even if you don’t think you’re going to have to use it.

It’s worth $90/year for us to free up all the money we’d need to truly be self-insured for paying off student loans and the like. No offense meant, Nate, but I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that $90 a year in a savings account could replace even the useful basics any time soon. My husband has only two suits, but each of those cost over $200 and he needs them for his work as a professor. At $90/year even with interest…that’s 4+ years just for the suits. You can call us materialistic, I call it a practical investment in a tool for his career—just like his computer. We got a great deal on it, but replacing would probably cost another 6 years of putting aside that money, even if we got a decent price. Would a sweet deal come along just at the right time? We can’t count on that when self-insuring.

I’m not opposed to the idea of self-insuring, but I think it’s a bad choice for most people when it comes to renter’s insurance or car insurance. The liability risks are far too high, given the trend of medical awards, and for replacing items in an apartment it’s just not practical because renter’s insurance is so cheap. If you’re concerned about money, find a way to earn an extra $90/year. :)

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avatar Mike @ The Thrifty Life

@Nate – I understand you’re coming at this from a younger viewpoint, but renter’s insurance is cheap! Ours is like $200 a year including extra coverages. Stick $200 in a savings account and at the end of the year you’d be lucky to have made enough for a few cups of coffee. And your “stuff” adds up. Own a computer, a television, how about CDs, everything in your kitchen, all your furniture, and your whole wardrobe??? It would easily cost more than several thousand dollars to replace your “stuff” if you lost everything in a fire. Then tack on being covered for liability and you’re REALLY naive to think that the investment in renter’s insurance is throwing money away. It’s cheap and absolutely the wrong move not to have it.

Nate, I read on your about page on your site that you have a rental property. Do you require your tenants to have renter’s insurance? I hope you do, because if you don’t and something happens you could be at fault and it could come out of your insurance policy since you’re the property owner. I’d be interested in knowing what your position is on that.

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avatar Nate @ Money Young

Mike, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover any damage caused to tenants belongings – at least where I live. We advise our tenants to get insurance, but don’t require it.

You all have me convinced. Perhaps a little insurance isn’t a bad thing. This is why we young people, need you old people. ;-) I say old in an affectionate way.

-Nate

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avatar Rita

My apartment complex requires it (and they tried stealthily to sell me some). I found an agent that I used previously . . . :( I’m really not materialistic. I pity the fool who would attempt to steal from me. He or she would leave empty handed . . .

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avatar SimplyForties

Renter’s insurance is money well-spent. As the other commenters have mentioned, it’s usually very inexpensive and I don’t kow about Nate, but I’d rather have my insurance replace my computers, which I need to work, or my appliances, which I choose to own to make my life easier and my various other possessions, which make my life more beautiful. It would take a lot of annual premiums stuck in an investment account to replace all that. I could certainly survive without it but I don’t choose to!

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avatar Patrick

It’s been about 3 years since I’ve had renter’s insurance (I have home owner’s insurance now), but I don’t remember ever paying much more than $100 per year. I value my non-replaceable items more than my “material possessions,” but at those rates I figured I couldn’t afford not to get renter’s insurance. It doesn’t take much to lose everything. Might as well get covered.

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avatar Yana

I always thought renter’s insurance would be a good idea at some point, but didn’t get it for many years. I felt safe, had good responsible neighbors and management, and highly doubted I’d get sued for anything. I didn’t have much to replace, either, and thought that if I did, it would be covered by somebody else’s policy. In fact, I did get flooded out of an apartment, and that neighbor did have renter’s insurance and covered my losses and moving expenses (to another apartment in the same complex).

Many things changed. Management might as well not even be on the premises. The neighborhood has gone to hell with irresponsible people. I still don’t fear a lawsuit. My husband has a hobby that has built up to a level where it would be quite a loss if something happened to his collection. I collect at a smaller level. I asked about renter’s insurance when insuring our new car at AAA, in 2007. It’s around $200 a year, and it would take many years for that to amount to anything much in savings, so we got it and think it’s worthwhile.

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avatar thomas

Renter’s Insurance is dirt cheap. I think I paid $90 a year for 50k worth of coverage. I was “forced” to have it but it’s definitely a great idea.

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avatar aa

Make sure you took pictures or videos of your valuables or you won’t be able to make any claims…

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avatar Debt Hater

I just bought a policy today too. I’m moving into a new place. I never had it before, but I just feel like now, it would be silly. No, it won’t replace family photos or things like that, but my laptop, TV, couch, bed… yeah, that’s worth covering. I also went with Liberty Mutual (through Geico, my auto insurer).

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