A renter's insurance policy can protect you and your belongings if you live in a rental unit. But you shouldn't buy the first policy you come across. It is important to learn about this coverage and shop around before you buy.
Learning about Renter's Insurance
Dirk Wakeham is President and CEO of LeasingDesk Insurance Services, a leader in resident insurance programs for the multi-housing industry, specializing in affordable and easy-to-implement renter's and liability insurance products.
Dirk recently took time to answer a few questions for LoveToKnow readers who want to know more about renter's insurance.
Renter's Insurance Policy Interview with Dirk Wakeham
LoveToKnow (LTK): What is Renter's Insurance?
Dirk Wakeham (DW): Renter's insurance is an inexpensive insurance policy that protects you as an apartment resident and your personal belongings due to accidental damage from fire, smoke, water, explosion or theft in your apartment or rental unit. There are other forms of renter's insurance but they only cover liability claims- costs associated with damage caused by you to the apartment. Often apartment owners will require you to carry some form of liability coverage.
LTK: Should every renter carry insurance?
DW: Absolutely! There is a common misperception that an apartment owner or landlord's property insurance covers loss of your personal belongings - this is incorrect. Regardless of who causes the damage, you are solely responsible for replacing your personal belongings. Another good reason to carry renter's insurance is the fact that you can be held responsible for financial loss or damage that you cause to the apartment building or another resident's belongings. Accidents happen, protect yourself.
LTK: What does a typical renter's insurance policy cover?
DW: A basic liability policy covers damage you cause in your unit, as well as damage to neighboring units and the property as a whole. This could include holes in the wall or a broken window and even damage caused by a kitchen fire or overflowing bathtub. A renter's insurance policy is much more comprehensive, providing the same liability coverage as well as protection of your personal belongings.
A typical renter's insurance policy provides coverage on just about everything from your iPod and laptop to your clothes and furniture that may get damaged by water, smoke, fire and explosion. The resident's policy also covers personal loss due to theft.
Unlike other renter's insurance products, LeasingDesk's eRenterPlan provides a renter reimbursement due to theft or vandalism as well as damage caused by roof leaks, offers $500 involuntary property damage coverage, and allow roommates to share one policy. Renters save money with eRenterPlan's set statewide rates, and gain peace of mind through its in-state transferable coverage.
LTK: Does insurance cover the rental or the renter? For example, if two or more people are sharing a home, should each person have their own policy?
DW: Renter's insurance covers both the rental unit and the renter's personal belongings. For example, if a resident causes fire damage to the kitchen in their apartment a renter's insurance policy would cover the damage caused to the apartment, adjoining units and cover any personal property loss.
With eRenterPlan's unique option of roommates sharing a policy, there is full coverage to your apartment and all of your personal belongings, however not all insurance providers offer this service.
LTK: How can renters determine how much coverage they need?
DW: Estimating the value of your personal property and keeping a detailed list will help you determine how much coverage you will need. Many renters think they don't own anything of value, so they don't need renter's insurance. But once you start adding up everything including your wardrobe, electronics and furniture, you could find it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace your personal belongings.
LTK: It is often recommended that consumers get several quotes when looking for auto insurance coverage. Do the same recommendations apply to renter's insurance?
DW: It is always good to shop around for insurance with the lowest premium while offering the most coverage, and there are many companies that provide some form of renter's insurance. eRenterPlan specializes in insuring residents who live in multi-unit apartment buildings. It utilizes a variety of 'A' rated underwriters (insurance companies) to provide you the best product for the best value. eRenterPlan does the work for you; it eliminates the confusing and often frustrating task of searching for the best product for your needs.
Remember, if you live in an apartment building you need insurance that covers damage you cause, but also damage that may be caused by your neighbor.
LTK: Is there any way to get a discount on a renter's insurance policy?
DW: For approximately the same cost of three trips to your local coffee shop a month, you can have a renter's insurance policy that protects you against personal property loss in the event of an accident. It's already very affordable; for about 60 cents per day you can have the peace of mind knowing you are protected.
LTK: Is there anything else renters should know before buying a policy?
DW: Everyday some type of accident and/or disaster occurs - it may not be a matter of if an accident is going to happen to you, but rather, when, and only about 30% of renters have a renter's insurance policy. What happens if your neighbor has a fire that destroys their apartment and your apartment with all of your personal belongings in it? Who pays for replacing your things? Your neighbor can't afford to because they don't have renter's insurance - but thankfully, you do.