Renter's insurance is one of the wisest and most effective ways to protect the things you own. If you are looking to secure your rental possessions properly, you may want to take advantage of a few basic tips to get the best possible deal.
1. Make a careful inventory of the things you own. Many people believe they can just write down a single blanket figure for all the possessions in their apartment, but such poor record-keeping almost inevitably leads to disputes down the line. Even listing items in broad terms – TV, computer, etc. – is a surefire way to run into significant resistance from your insurance company. You want to be as specific as possible on this step of the process, up to and including purchase dates, serial numbers and more. If you have registered any of the more expensive items in your home, write down the data for these documents as well.
2. Speak to your landlord about what kind of coverage the building has. The reason most people don't have renter's insurance is because they believe their landlords have assumed liability for the property – after all, isn't the great advantage of not owning? In fact, although your landlord may have a policy for the building, the things inside your apartment are yours alone. Grey areas can arise around windows, balconies and appliances, so be sure you know what is covered and what may warrant additional protection on your end.
3. Consider whether you want to insure your possession for cash value or replacement cost. These terms represent the two different schools of thought on insurance generally – either you are looking to recoup the value of what was lost, or you are looking to replace all such items brand new. Needless to say, the latter version generally means higher premiums and deductibles. The advantage, of course, if that you can rebuild quickly in the event of theft or fire.
4. Add personal liability insurance to any policy you see. Often insurance companies let you fold this additional form of protection into an existing policy, but it is wise to include it from the beginning. Simply put, personal liability protects you from the potentially breathtaking expense associated with an injured guest on your property. Whether it's someone you know or a contractor, it is essential to place a buffer between yourself and the kind of skyrocketing medical costs that may come to you via litigation. Personal liability is inexpensive, but the rewards can be extraordinary.
5. Consider insuring your home business if you use that rental property for any kind of moneymaking venture. Whether you are a freelance writer or a full-time employee who telecommutes once a week, it is essential to make this information available to the insurance carrier. Often you can get significant moneys if your home business is disrupted or destroyed – no small matter if you can no longer command the same salary after a catastrophic event. Business insurance tends to come separately packaged, but most insurance companies will let you fold in such coverage for a nominal fee.
6. Ask yourself whether you want to spend more money on premiums up front or maintain a higher deductible down the line. Many first time renter's opt for lower deductibles and higher premiums, believing they will not be able to afford that initial chunk of cash should tragedy strike. If you can set aside the money for it, however, a higher deductible can save you thousands of dollars over the long term. Some of the lowest premiums in this industry are associated with deductibles in excess of $2,000, but the chances are overwhelming that you will never have to pay such expenses out of pocket.
7. Seek estimates from a wide array of companies. Renter's insurance has grown progressively more popular over the years, and that means everyone from national blue chips to boutique outfits is getting into the game. Although the biggest names do their best to convince you they have a lock on this industry, you may be able to find outstanding bargains if you know where to look. Homework like this can save you considerable money and heartache down the line, so be sure to engage in broad comparison shopping before you sign any contracts.
8. Unhappy with the figures you are seeing? They may be a reflection of the fact that your credit is less than stellar. Insurance companies are wagering on your overall trustworthiness when they draw up policies such as these, and unfortunately your credit score factors prominently into the calculus. If you haven't done so already, order your credit report from one of the big three companies and check it for any signs of error or delinquent payment. Often by resolving issues such as these swiftly, you can gain some needed muscle in that final score. Over the months and years ahead, stay vigilant about your credit if you want to lock down lower premiums.
9. Check each estimate you see to determine whether so-called "acts of God" are covered. This blanket term generally includes natural disasters such as flood and earthquake, though recent versions may also include acts of terror and war. Most conventional renter's insurance doesn't include provisions for events such as these, so it may be wise to look into additional coverage if your apartment or rental home is in a high-risk area.
10. Save more money by combining different types of insurance under one corporate roof. Renter's insurance tends to be inexpensive for the insurance carriers, which is why they tend to be more than happy to fold such coverage into more comprehensive policies. If you have done everything you can to find lower rates and you are still dissatisfied with the numbers, it may be time to combine renter's insurance with other major coverages such as life insurance or auto insurance. Blanket policies such as these often represent the best possible bargains in a crowded marketplace.