Renter's Insurance: Fire, flood, burglary and lawsuits

Whether you live in a dorm or a barracks, a condo or two-bedroom apartment, you’d be devastated if you lost your belongings to a break-in, fire or malfunctioning sprinkler system. You may be betting that such misfortune won’t happen to you, and you may win that wager. But what if you lose? Fire, flood, burglary and lawsuits can happen to you. Here’s how you could recover.

A renters insurance policy protects your possessions against theft, fire, vandalism and more — and you can purchase a policy for as little as $12 a month. Consider the following:

1. Your landlord’s insurance protects his stuff, not yours.

Too many people forgo renters insurance because they think their landlord’s insurance covers their personal possessions. It doesn’t. A landlord only insures the structure you’re living in. The responsibility for protecting all your belongings is yours — along with the cost of replacing them if disaster strikes.

2. Your stuff is worth more than you think.

Even if you’re just starting out, what you own is probably worth more than you think. The average renter has more than $20,000 in personal belongings. Just think about how much it would cost to replace your clothing, books, furniture, laptop computer, flat-screen TV, bicycle, smartphone and everything else you’ve accumulated over the years.

3. It can happen to you.

It’s comforting to assume you won’t be the victim of a fire, theft or other property loss, but wishful thinking may lead to financial disaster. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s most recent data, more than 90,000 apartment fires were reported to local fire departments in 2010, causing more than $1 billion in damage. And rental home dwellers are burglarized more often than those who own their own homes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.

4. Renters insurance protects more than just property.

What if someone visiting you trips on a rug and breaks an arm? Could you afford to pay your visitor’s medical bills? A good renters policy includes:

  • Medical expense coverage. This helps reimburse guests for medical expenses related to injuries that happen at your place.
  • Liability insurance. If an injured guest sues you, liability coverage can help with legal bills and will pay damages if you’re found liable for them.

5. It’s affordable.

Hard as it is to believe, you can buy a renters insurance policy for the price of a pizza — often as low as $12 a month. In less than five minutes, you can get a quote for a USAA renters insurance to protect your belongings.1

Add it Up

Think your stuff isn’t worth very much? Think again. The average rented, two-bedroom residence can contain more than $20,000 in personal property. The numbers below are estimates provided by USAA of what your belongings could be worth.

Personal Property Replacement Value
Furniture $6,000
Military uniforms and equipment $5,000
Clothing $3,500
TV, DVD or VCR, stereo, movies and music $1,500
Computer equipment and accessories $1,500
Watches, jewelry $1,000
Artwork, decorations and collectibles $1,000
Dishes, silverware and cookware $500
Camera equipment $500
Appliances (microwave, washer, dryer) $400
All other property $4,000
Total Personal Property $24,900

Source: USAA

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