There are a million reasons why tenants may choose not to purchase renters insurance, but it’s coverage that is worth considering—even if you don’t own anything that you consider overly expensive or valuable. In many cases, renters insurance will cover more than just the contents of your apartment.
Scenario #1: Injuries to a guest in your home
Whether you have a pet who nips a visitor or your child hits a baseball through a neighbor’s window, renters insurance may help protect you, provide defense, pay for damages, or investigate allegations when claims are made against you by third parties.
For example, consider an elderly customer of mine who was at home recuperating after a heart attack. During a visit with a friend, his guest tripped over a loose wire and fell, breaking an ankle. Unfortunately, the elderly customer did not purchase renter’s insurance because, he said, at his age he had nothing worth insuring in his apartment.
Had he purchased renters insurance, however, his insurance policy may have provided medical payments for his injured guest. It also may have provided liability coverage, or at the very least defense costs, potentially protecting him against lawsuits from the guest.
Scenario #2: Building malfunctions
Contrary to popular belief, your landlord isn’t always responsible for damage caused to your possessions from building-related issues.
Case in point: My mother, who resided in an assisted living facility for the last seven years of her life, came home after an afternoon of shopping to find that her room had been inundated by water. The cause was an overflowing toilet in her room that would not stop running. Many of her possessions were damaged beyond repair. Had she not had renters insurance, she would have been on the hook for replacing them. Luckily, she had heeded my warnings and purchased a renter’s policy some months prior to the loss.
Her policy paid for the replacement of the items under the replacement cost provision of her policy. Needless to say, she was thrilled with her insurance purchase after that event.
Scenario #3: Off-premises events
Many renters insurance policies can also cover losses that occur away from the rented home.
In one case, a friend’s daughter took her new comforter, computer, and clothing to college, only to have everything destroyed in a dorm fire during the first week of school. Happily, she learned that under her parents’ renters policy, 10 percent of the coverage carried by the parent’s in their residence could be allocated to the contents lost in their daughter’s dorm room fire.
My father always said, “Ignorance isn’t bliss—it’s just ignorance.” In the case of renters insurance, ignorance can be very costly. To decide whether renters insurance is right for you, make a list of your personal possessions and their estimated replacement costs, and weigh those costs against the cost of an annual renters policy.
Then, consider the aforementioned scenarios. Could one of these happen to you?
Karen Skoler has been in the insurance business since 1969 with a background in marketing, claims, servicing, sales, and supervising with both insurance carriers and independent agents. She earned her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation in 1994.
Presently, Karen is employed as a commercial lines manager at Petschauer Insurance Agency in Ridgewood, NY. She often writes content for blogs in the interest of helping people understand insurance coverages they have either purchased or are contemplating purchasing. You can follow her blog posts at www.jpins.com.