6 Features You Should Expect from Your Renters Insurance

best renters insurance

As a renter, you’re not responsible for the insurance on your home or apartment’s physical structure — that’s the landlord’s job. However, your landlord isn’t in charge of protecting your personal belongings from damage or theft.

The best renters insurance can help you cover your costs in the event the unexpected happens.

Why do I need renters insurance?

Some landlords require you to purchase renters insurance. Before you can move into a rented home or apartment, you might need to show proof of insurance.

But even if your landlord doesn’t require it, purchasing renters insurance is still a smart move. Think about it: How many stolen or damaged items could you afford to replace?

Big ticket items like laptops, smartphones, TVs, and furniture would be difficult to replace on their own. But if you lost them all in a fire, for example, you might have to live without them or go into debt to replace them.

In exchange for a small monthly fee, a renters insurance policy can replace your belongings if they’re lost due to theft or disaster.

What to look for in renters insurance

No matter what policy you settle on, be sure that your renters insurance covers the following:

1. Replacement cost of items

Check to see that your apartment insurance policy covers the replacement cost of your items, instead of the cash value.

Many items, such as electronics, decrease in value over time. With cash value coverage, your insurance will only refund you for what the lost item is worth now. That likely won’t be enough to replace that computer you lost to a fire or the TV stolen from your living room.

Instead, look for replacement cost coverage. “I learned from being burglarized while living in Philly to actually read [my] policy and know what is covered before an event happens,” said Jessica Garbarino, founder of Every Single Dollar.

Garbarino had gold jewelry, a digital camera, and some CDs stolen from her rental. Luckily, she had coverage that covered the cost of replacements. “They covered all of it,” she said.

Replacement cost ensures you can recreate your home after a disaster without breaking the bank.

2. Theft or damage to your car

If your car is stolen or broken into, personal property isn’t covered by your auto insurance.

Instead, homeowners or apartment renters insurance covers it. Before you sign on the dotted line of your renters insurance policy, double-check to ensure that personal items stolen out of your car or damaged in a crash are covered.

3. Temporary housing

What happens if disaster strikes and your rental is uninhabitable? The best renters insurance policies will cover the costs of living off-site until the rental can be lived in again.

Attorney Rebecca Green Neale said that landlords should technically pay for your temporary costs in these scenarios, but many refuse.

What your landlord is required to do is dependent on state law, said Neale. In some cases, it’s about paying the difference. “Say your rent is $1,000 a month but you can’t find anything comparable for less than $1,200,” she explained. “The landlord should pay the difference.”

Getting that money could be problematic, however, or there might be an escape rule in your state. Neale recommended making sure your renters insurance covers those costs so you know you’ll get what you need in a pinch.

4. Liability coverage

Liability coverage is a vital aspect to any apartment renters insurance. This type of coverage can protect you in two ways.

If you cause serious damage to your rental unit, you’re responsible for the cost. The same is true if your guests, children, or pets cause damage. If you accidentally start a fire in the kitchen, for example, a liability policy can cover the repair costs that you would otherwise be responsible for.

Secondly, you are protected if others are hurt on the property. If someone trips down your stairs and decides to sue you, liability coverage could help over lawyer fees and settlement costs.

5. Flood and earthquake damage

Check your renters policy closely for this type of coverage; there’s a good chance that floods and earthquakes aren’t included in your policy.

For the best renters insurance coverage, be sure to add protection for these events. This can impact your monthly costs, however, so consider the added expense and weigh it against the probability of these types of disasters.

6. Discounts for security features

You might be able to get discounts for safety features on your rental property. This could cut the cost of renters insurance significantly over time.

If you have smoke alarms, security systems, fire extinguishers, and fire sprinklers, make sure you mention it to your insurance agent. Even deadbolts on exterior doors can provide you with a discount on your renters insurance policy.

How much does renters insurance cost?

Even the best renters insurance isn’t very expensive. On average, renters insurance costs about $20 per month.

But with some smart shopping, you can get a discount. Check with your auto insurance company to see if a multi-policy discount is available. My own multi-policy results in a $12 monthly premium that offers plenty of coverage.

Get the best renters insurance policy

What you need in a renters insurance policy depends on your situation. Take an inventory of your belongings and think about what will protect you best.

Even though your landlord has insurance, it’s designed to protect them — not you. Put your own protections in place with a good renters insurance policy.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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