Do You Need Renters Insurance?

Hello, and welcome to Your Money 20

I’m Thomas Fox, Community Outreach Director of Cambridge Credit Counseling If you’re among the 35 million Americans who occupy rental units in the United States, perhaps the most important type of insurance to consider is Renters Insurance Although such insurance is not mandatory, it can come in very handy Renters insurance can help protect your personal belongings against fire, theft and vandalism This type of insurance can also help protect you in case of a liability lawsuit, which could stem from someone injuring themselves in your apartment or rented house

Many renters mistakenly believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover any losses they suffer; however, this is not the case Landlords typically carry insurance on the property itself; therefore, the contents of your household are unprotected Do you need renters insurance? A simple exercise can help you find your answer First, take a look around your living space and think about what it would cost to replace the items you own Make a list of all your belongings — furniture, electronics, clothing and anything else of value to you

Now, start assigning prices to each of these items Granted, it may be difficult to assign costs to everything you own, but it's okay to guess When you’re done assigning prices, add everything up Do you have enough money available to replace these items if there were a fire? Many of you may not, and even if you have money available, think about the other costs that will be associated with such a disaster Not only would you have to replace your belongings, you’ll need temporary housing and, eventually, a new place to live

Needless to say, an insurance policy that covers all these items could not only save you money, but also give you peace of mind There are some things you want to keep in mind when considering rental insurance policies First, the amount of coverage you need will be a major factor in the price of the policy Think carefully about the amount of coverage you purchase, since buying too much insurance can be costly You can go back to our previous exercise to determine the dollar amount you actually need

Another factor you’ll have to consider is the deductible you'll be paying A deductible is the amount of money you must pay before the insurance company’s coverage begins If you choose a higher deductible you can reduce the monthly cost of your policy You’ll also need to decide what type of reimbursement you’re seeking Actual Cash Value reimbursement will provide you with the cash value of your items at the time of loss, while Replacement Cost will provide you reimbursement to receive comparable replacements

For instance, if you have a three-year-old computer estimated at $300 in value at the time of the loss, you would receive $300 if you had an Actual Cash Value policy However, if you opted for the Replacement Cost option your insurance company would reimburse you with the funds to buy a comparable computer system While the Replacement Cost option is a little more expensive, it may actually be the better value How much does rental insurance cost? Well, I'm happy to say it costs a lot less than you might think The average policies cost anywhere between $10 and $25 a month

Even though this is really inexpensive, I recommend you compare prices and shop around If you already have insurance policies through a company, contact them first to see if they offer multiple policy discounts Also, be sure to ask about any discounts you may qualify for, such as maintaining working smoke detectors in your home, installing dead-bolt locks, or additional discounts if you're retired Finally, to save even more on renters insurance, pay your premium in one payment, which will save you on monthly installment fees Well, that’s it for this edition

We welcome your feedback and ask for your thoughts and suggestions by e-mailing us at [email protected] Thank you for watching Until next time, I’m Thomas Fox for Cambridge Credit Counseling