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You might think that renting, instead of buying, your living space means that your landlord’s insurance has you covered. While that’s true for the actual building you live in, it’s not true for all of your belongings. If your possessions are stolen or ruined by flood or fire, you’re out of luck. That’s why there’s special home insurance for renters, called — predictably enough — renters insurance.

Most home insurance providers also offer renters insurance policies, and all the regular insurance tips like shopping around for cheap renters insurance quotes and reading the fine print on the policy apply. But there are a few things in particular you’ll want to keep in mind:

  1. Decide What Kind of Coverage You Want

    You’ll need to make a basic choice when it comes to renters insurance between actual value coverage and replacement cost coverage. With the first, you’d only be paid what your belongings are worth at the time they’re lost. That means the original purchasing price minus depreciation. Replacement cost value, on the other hand, pays you what you would need to replace the items. The latter will cost a bit more per month, but is often a much better value.

  2. Take an Inventory and Assign Values

    Unlike much regular home insurance, home insurance for renters is often based on a self-assessment of value, meaning it’s up to you to value your items and pick a coverage amount. But that doesn’t mean the insurance company will agree with you when it’s time to make a claim. For that reason, it’s very important to be realistic about the value of your items. It’s not worth saving a few dollars each month by optimistically thinking you could replace everything in your home for less than you actually could.

    Go through your home taking an inventory of everything you would need to replace should your possessions be wiped out (a spreadsheet kept on your laptop or tablet is a good way to keep things tidy), keeping track of monetary values as you go. You should also take photos of the more valuable items, though there’s no need to photograph every kitchen ladle. This can guide you when you actually start negotiating a policy and back up a claim, should you ever need to make one.

  3. Plan for What Isn’t Included

    You should note that you might need to purchase separate policies for some of your belongings. Jewelry, cash, firearms and similar items prone to loss are often covered by basic policies, but only in a limited way and with maximum payments that may be much lower than what the items are worth. Items that don’t depreciate (antique furniture or valuable books, for example), should also be covered in a separate policy.

Do you have more questions or tips about home insurance for renters? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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