Question I just moved into my first apartment and my budget is tight. I don't own the property, and my landlord has coverage. Should I consider getting renters insurance?
We posed this question to Tina Virola, an agent based Hartford, Connecticut. Here's what she had to say:
Answer Congratulations on your new apartment! Moving can be costly, and although you're still adjusting to your budget to accommodate the rent, getting renters insurance is something you should consider.
I discuss renters insurance with renters — whether you are renting an apartment, a condo, a manufactured home or a house. Sometimes there's an assumption that the landlord's insurance will cover your things, but that typically only provides coverage for the building itself.
Renters insurance, on the other hand, covers your personal belongings if damage results from covered losses like fire, burglary or vandalism. (Subject, of course, to the terms, conditions and provisions of the renters policy.) Often renters don't realize the full extent of their possessions — which could include things like appliances, furniture, electronics, bedding, clothing, art, instruments and so on—or how much of a financial hit it would be if you lost many of these things at once.
The good news is that since you don't obtain coverage for the property itself, the cost of renters' insurance can be fairly affordable.
How much renters insurance coverage should I consider?
To determine the coverage that's right for you, it helps to take an inventory of your possessions. Not incidentally, this also can make things easier if you ever do need to file a claim or verify losses for tax purposes.
You can either create a written inventory or simply walk around your home videotaping your stuff. Either way, it should include a description of the item (especially important in a written inventory), serial number (where applicable), purchase date and the estimated value.
Once you've got the inventory, I always tell customers to upload it into at least two different places and check back in occasionally to update it. That way, you won't be stressed about remembering details when you're potentially already stressed out after a loss. It also helps to hold onto receipts for expensive purchases.
You may want to consider if you want to add an endorsement or additional rider for expensive items, such as jewelry or fine art. Talk to an insurance agent if you have any questions about insurance options or coverage.
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