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My foray into the world of renter’s insurance

“Think of all of your precious possessions. They cost you a lot, right? Now, imagine them all burning up in a fire and you having to replace every single item with your own money!”

I heard this every day for a week after we released our survey on renter’s insurance, and it was my own fault. My fault for being honest and sharing that I hadn’t purchased renter’s insurance.

It’s not like I was trying to rebel against my own professional industry, it’s because, well, I’m lazy. And I hate talking on the phone with strangers. And I hate shopping for things that don’t fall into the categories of shoes or clothing. Ahem. anxious-renter

I had gone shopping for renter’s insurance once before, a year ago. I didn’t get very far because I wanted to buy it solely via online interaction. I almost bought it from Company A*, but Company A said the final step was to hop on the phone with my potential agent. While some people might like that, I didn’t, so Company A lost me. (I even mentioned that I didn’t want to talk to anyone on the phone, which they acknowledged, but also dismissed.)

Then, thanks to the heckling of my co-workers (who I know had my best interests in mind), I crumbled beneath the peer pressure. I also was feeling very paranoid that anytime I stepped out of the house would be the last time that I saw my shiny laptop or my shoe collection.

So, earlier this month, I am pleased to announce, I joined the ranks of those with renter’s insurance. Hurrah.

I shopped at three companies. Company A (I still had my quote with them from a year before), Company B and Company C. From our story about the renter’s insurance survey, I knew that coverage can be as low as $10 a month. However, Company A gave me an estimate of more than $20 a month. Company B gave an estimate for about $10 a month, while Company C was above $22 a month. Why the disparity? I have no idea.

Tips for buying renter’s insurance

Let’s get into what happens when you shop for renter’s insurance, now that you have me with you to gently guide you into this world of trepidation.

1. Prepare to shop! It takes time. Don’t let laziness get in the way of comparing prices among at least three companies to get the best deal. Also, don’t scrunch up your face someone asks for your ZIP code — that’s normal.

2. Be prepared to tell how much your stuff is worth. Take inventory. I don’t have much stuff to my name (chalk this up to me having an austere lifestyle or for just being a hoarding novice), so it was fairly easy for me to calculate the value of my personal property. This may not be the case for everyone.

3. Go with the company that best fits your wants and needs. For me, I didn’t want to deal with anyone on the phone unless I absolutely had to (for example, if I needed to file a claim). Company B won because I could do the entire shopping process online, and it had the cheapest rate with appropriate coverage. No unnecessary awkward phone calls – and it fit my budget!

4. Choose between paying upfront and paying the full amount over time. I chose to pay upfront, because the monthly and biannual options involved a processing fee. Since my renter’s insurance is about $10 a month, the processing fees for each month – if I chose to pay monthly – were more than 30 percent of the monthly cost (around $3). Meaning, I would pay about $120 a year for coverage, and $36 on top of that to process monthly installments. Unless you don’t mind paying 28.8 percent in addition to the yearly fee, I recommend paying everything upfront without processing fees.

Glad to have it?

I’d like to thank my co-workers for their encouragement in getting me insured (read: for their jeering emails, verbal taunts and lunchtime conversations where they singled me out as “that girl without renter’s insurance"). Now, I can leave my place without the “what ifs” creeping into my head.

If you don’t have renter’s insurance, the process isn’t as painful as you think. And remember my story and how I survived!

* Insurance company names have been changed, if you couldn’t tell already.

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