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- When I was in my 20s, my boyfriend’s dad all but insisted we get renters insurance.
- I thought it was old advice, but it ended up saving us when the bakery below our apartment caught fire.
- We were able to replace all of our furniture and then some thanks to our coverage.
Many, many months ago, my former (and completely unschooled-in-the-ways-of-the-adult-world) self knew nothing about renters insurance — even though I’ve been renting an apartment in Boston for several years since graduating college.
If I had tried to learn more, I probably would have thought renter’s insurance was a very fearful response to potential tragedy – needless to say, I could fit all my stuff in the back of a second hand Mercury Tracer station wagon. In other words, my meager possessions hardly seemed worth the investment.
A crisis finally hit
When I then-boyfriend and I decided to move in together, with his father all but We want to get renters insuranceI scoffed at the seemingly old advice.
Then, late one night, just a few weeks after moving into a second-floor studio on the main street of a bustling college town, we were awakened by a pounding on our apartment door. Dismissing the noise as a drunken neighbor, we drifted back to sleep until the smell of smoke – coupled with more aggressive banging – alerted us to the fact that our building was on fire.
I remember grabbing my wallet and keys (we’re talking pre-cell phone days, folks), going down the stairs in a pair of boxers, a t-shirt, and flip flops, and seeing what looked like fire from the bakery on the floor. under our bedroom lapped angrily towards the sky. When the firemen took an ax to the door I had just exited, reality set in: the water and smoke damage alone would make our place a total loss.
In hindsight, renters insurance turned out to be a game-changer.
Our renters insurance policy covers almost anything lost
While we are temporarily displaced, and lost a myriad of things of sentimental value that cannot be replaced, the payout of a less-than-$200 policy becomes a building block for our future life. While we are not suddenly flush with cash, we are afforded the opportunity to replace each and every item lost in the fire with a comparable one – no matter the price or specification.
The twin, four-poster bed from my boyfriend’s childhood room became a king mattress with a box spring and cherry headboard. A double-handed floral sleeper sofa (with exposed springs to boot) was transformed into a linen-covered centerpiece for our new living room. And we even splurged on a totally-out-of-our-budget-style coffee table we’d been eyeing for a long time to replace the thrift-store quality version of someone’s aunt.
Ditto for our televisions, computers, desks, dressers, you name it: As long as an item is missing, we are free to replace it and – upon providing a receipt – we are promptly reimbursed.
Are there parameters? Indeed. Even though no one offered to cut us a check for the full coverage amount, which we could have used to finance a much-needed vacation to Hawaii, we certainly could have spent the full value of our policy — $20,000 — in a single lump sum. furniture has been chosen by us, assuming there is proof of purchase.
Here’s what renters insurance covers
Therefore what is included in renter’s insurance rates? Most policies carry four basic types of coverage:
Personal property: If your belongings are stolen or destroyed in the event of a fire, part of this policy pays to replace them – minus your deductible (the dollar amount you have to cover before your policy kicks in).
Responsibilities: In the event of a lawsuit Damages and / or legal expenses related to someone injured in your home arise, this part of the policy covers them.
Medical payments: Often grouped with liability, this coverage will pay for guest injuries in your residence (from dog bites to falling down the front steps) without requiring a lawsuit. Note that certain dog breeds cost more while others are not covered at all.
Loss of use: When our apartment was deemed uninhabitable after the fire, this coverage covered the hotel and restaurant bills (above and beyond the usual fees) until we found a new place.
According to a recent NerdWallet analysis, the average renter’s insurance policy will set you back about $179 per year (or $15 a month) depending on the deets – like where you live and previous claims. (In this case, this estimate is based on a hypothetical 30-year-old tenant with $30,000 in personal property coverage, $100,000 in liability coverage, and a $500 deductible.)
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I recommend renters insurance to everyone
Today, after twenty years of home ownership – which, interestingly enough, require home owner insurance if there is a mortgage involved (but that’s another story!) – I still sing the praises of renters insurance to people who, like me in the past, may not be familiar with the myriad (not to mention affordable) benefits that come with the policy.
While it takes some time for the smell of smoke and mountains of paperwork to dissipate (the insurance even covered the dry-cleaning bill for all of our smoke-damaged clothes!), my experience with renters insurance lingers as a positive one.
And if I have any regrets, it’s what we did not replacing a 1970s-era Atari game console – or a mountain of compatible cartridges – on which we’d been playing intense games of Frogger for days before the fire. I mean, if only eBay had become a thing then…