You probably don’t think you need renter’s insurance, or maybe you’ve never thought about it, I know. But you do, and it’s relatively cheap (like a few dollars a month cheap) so I think you should at least keep reading to find out why.
A big caveat to start this. I am not a lawyer, accountant, or insurance professional, and this is not legal, financial, or insurance-based advice. This is just me, writing something that I think might help, in very vague and non-specific terms. Some policies will cover the below, some won’t, it’s your job to read the terms and conditions and find out exactly what’s included.
1. It covers you for way more than you think
Do you know what personal liability is?
Let’s use an example: You’re walking down the street and a baseball bounces in front of you. You’re a nice person so you pick it up and look around to who threw it. You see them standing in a park some way away, but you’re an athlete, so you wind up and throw it as hard as you can. As the ball flies through the air someone walks in front of the path of the ball and BLAM! it hits them in the side of the head. This is New York City, you’re in trouble, they’re suing you for what they’ve been through, and all the medical costs associated. You didn’t even intend to hit them! Either way though, you’re going to court and they want money. This is where personal liability steps in.
Your renter’s insurance (in many cases) covers you for what’s about to happen in court (lawyers) and costs if they try and settle (or the court finds against you). This can be crazy bananas expensive, so it’s certainly a big plus in the insurance column.
Sure, it might not happen, BUT WHAT IF IT DID!?
One thing that renter’s insurance does not cover though: driving and anything to do with cars. That’s automotive insurance and we’ll look at that another day.
2. It covers your stuff
This is the traditional element of what most people think of when they think of renter’s insurance. Your stuff!
If someone comes into your house and steals your things, renter’s insurance can help. If something blows up in your apartment that breaks all your stuff, that’s where renter’s insurance can help.
If you lose your phone when you’re out walking the dog, that might also be covered (normally in an extended version of a policy).
Really, this is the bit where you might be able to save some money if you’re prone to losing things.
3. It covers you for people who hurt themselves at your place
When someone visits your home or apartment, did you know that if they fall over and crack their nose on your rare DVD collection, you might be liable?
It turns out that you can get into quite some trouble if something in your apartment causes someone else harm. Sure, your friends wouldn’t do that, but if they’re stuck with a lot of medical bills or are out of work for some time, their lawyer is going to recommend that they sue whoever they can (read: you).
Renter’s insurance can help you with this by covering for medical and damages of those who injure themselves.
4. It covers your apartment
Phwoah, you’d think that was all but we’re forgetting about the one big thing that is mentioned lots above: the apartment itself.
What happens if your cat jumps on to the bench, knocks a plant into your sink, which blocks the sink and turns the tap on all at the same time, flooding your apartment?
I know what happens: Your floors get ruined, your neighbors will be affected, and there’s a good chance your landlord is going to be really unhappy.
This is going to cost a LOT and they’re going to want to be paid very soon.
Don’t go into debt. Get renter’s insurance.
5. It’s probably required of you
Read your tenancy agreements! Golly, the amount of people who I talk to who just signed because they wanted an apartment and didn’t understand exaclty what was required of them is mind boggling.
Sit there. Take the time. Understand every single element.
A lot of landlords will REQUIRE that you have insurance. If you don’t, you’re in a world of hurt if something happens to the building because now you’re also in breach of contact. Read your agreements, wear fake glasses (if you don’t wear glasses) and chew on a pen while you do, it’ll make you look even more intelligent.
So, in summary: Look into renter’s insurance yourself, read everything, read some more, and then make a decision for yourself.
I use Lemonade for my insurance, which works out for me at <$10 a month. If you have another good one, let me know!