8 Questions to Ask When Purchasing Renters Insurance

Nov 7, 2019 | Personal Insurance

After weeks (potentially months) on the hunt, you’ve finally found the perfect apartment or house to call home sweet home for the next year or so. Although you’re probably jumping at the chance to move your stuff in, there’s a few things you need to line up before entering into your humble abode – like securing a reliable renters insurance policy.

When it comes to renters insurance, the biggest mistake you can make is not having any coverage at all. 

While most people think their possessions aren’t worth much, it only takes a small incident like a bathtub overflow into your neighbors apartment to set you back a few thousand or more.

But that doesn’t mean you should sign off blindly at the first policy you come across. Just like entering a new relationship, finding the right renters insurance requires a bit of level headedness. It really pays to do your homework, but we’ve made it simple for you. 

Here are 8 important questions to ask before purchasing renters insurance: 

1. Is all my stuff covered?

Generally speaking, most policies cover the bulk of your personal property like clothing, furniture, artwork and electronics, and many have limits on items like jewelry, fur and fine silverware. Additional coverage is available for these limited items. While electronics and other computer equipment is included, if you work primarily from home, it may not be. Check with your insurance agent because additional coverage may be needed for any business equipment you own. 

2. What “perils” or events are covered?

Your renters insurance will cover you against common perils such as theft, fire, smoke, explosions and water damage (from plumbing issues or overflows). Accidents that involve breakage like knocking over your favorite tea set or dropping your laptop into the kitchen sink  are typically not covered. 

When it comes to storm coverage, that tends to be a bit of a grey area (pun intended). Reach out to your insurance agent to see how storm perils fit into your renters insurance coverage.

3. What happens if someone gets hurt in my apartment?

Along with the liability portion of your renters insurance that cover damage that your stuff causes to other apartments—like the overflowing bathtub into your neighbor’s apartment we mentioned above—this also covers you for injuries that happen inside your apartment, like when your visiting guest slips and breaks her leg on your wet bathroom floor.

It is important to note that most policies don’t cover you for anything that happens when you sublet your place or rent it out in other ways, such as through Airbnb.  So if you plan to use your apartment in this way, be sure to confirm with your insurance agent the best coverage for this situation.

4. Does my policy cover my roommates too?

Renters’ insurance typically covers spouses and immediate family members who live with you, but things get trickier when it comes to roommates. At best, only two unrelated people can be named on a policy, but it’s important to check with your insurance agent when purchasing a  renters insurance policy. The most effective way to handle renters insurance with a roommate is to get your own policy. This allows you to get the most appropriate coverage for your needs. This also ensures claim checks are made to you and you only, and you don’t have to chase down an old roommate to sign a check for a claim after they are long gone. This article highlights some quick information about renters insurance and roommates

5. Does my policy cover my pets?

Your renters insurance would provide important liability coverage regarding your pets. If your dog bites someone inside or outside your apartment, the liability portion of your renters’ insurance usually covers this—unless you own an “aggressive” breed such as a pit bull or wolf hybrid.  If in doubt, ask. 

6. Are my things covered if they are damaged or stolen outside of my apartment? 

Most renters’ insurance covers off-premises damage caused by fire, water damage from burst pipes, and vandalism. So if the dry cleaner catches fire and your clothes are destroyed, or a pipe breaks in your storage locker, your renters insurance could provide the coverage you need. 

If your personal property is stolen outside your apartment, that may also be covered. Or you may be required to take out extra insurance. The cost typically charged annually for off-premises theft insurance is probably worth it if you travel a lot with expensive clothing or sports equipment, or ride a $3,000 bicycle.

7. How much coverage should I get?

Overall, Texas renters insurance is pretty inexpensive. The average policy covers $10,000 for personal property and $100,000 for liability, and it only costs around $15 each month. That’s about the cost of grabbing a cup of coffee each week. But that’s just the most basic coverage.

Figuring out how much your stuff is worth is an important step to do early on as it will dictate how much insurance you need to buy. 

8. How can I figure out how much my stuff is worth? 

While most people think their possessions aren’t worth much, the value of all your belongings can quickly add up. It’s important to have a good idea of how much your possessions are worth. Keeping track of your items may sound like a tedious process, but there are home inventory apps that will help you log, price and track all of your items. Or a good ol’ fashioned spreadsheet will do just the trick!  

Having this data on hand is also helpful if you need to file a claim. Remember to save receipts for big-ticket items, log serial numbers and take photos of all of the possessions you would, in theory, want to claim. Not having a proper inventory report can hurt you in the long run.

Medlin & Associates is an exclusive insurance agency serving the Dallas,  Denton and all of our Texas family.  We offer customized insurance options for personal,  life or commercial insurance.

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