Renter’s Insurance: 4 Common Myths
Insurance makes the difference from having the worst day of your life versus starting the worst chapter of your life. Protect yourself, even as a renter.
Lately, I’ve had reason to investigate insurance a lot and I’m constantly surprised at how many folks poo-poo the stress I’m feeling from trying to find the right coverage.
People like to downplay risk. Like bad things only happen to other people. Or just being “aware” is enough to not have things stolen. Or, because nothing’s happened so far, they don’t need to worry about it in the future.
For renters, it’s even worse, because a lot of people live with delusions on what their tenancy comes with.
Here are four myths commonly believed by renters:
1. My landlord has coverage, so I’m cool.
Yeah. You’re not. Not even a little bit.
Your landlord does have coverage. That’s right. For their building and their investment. Your stuff? Not even a dime of it will be covered. If there’s an electrical fire that’s even their fault, you won’t see a penny without a long lawsuit, but even then, many standard rental agreements free landlords from any responsibilities for these things.
Flood, fire, theft — lose everything as a renter and you lose everything, period.
2. I can’t afford insurance.
Can you afford losing everything? Nope. You can’t. So, that would suck.
I have my belongings currently insured for $70,000. Know what that costs me monthly? $42. That $42 lets me sleep at night. Fire? I’ll be put up in a hotel, my things are gonna be replaced. Flood? Likewise. Theft? It’s all good.
From $15 a month and up, you can take a deep breath and know that if something horrible happens, you’re not on your own.
3. I don’t own enough stuff to insure it.
Hmm. Don’t you? What’s your computer cost? Your TV? How many books do you own, and what do you think their average cost to replace them would be — $20 each? Likely. I’m looking at a pile of 10 cookbooks on one shelf of mine. I’m guessing they’d be over $500 new to replace, ’cause they’re all fancy. That’s just 10 books in 800 square feet of belongings.
Then there’s photos, art, clothes, pieces of furniture, towels, linens, your little gadgets and appliances, even office supplies. The average one-bedroom apartment is thought to contain over $30,000 of furnishings and everyday things.
4. I can handle the risk.
Yeah, but your renter’s insurance doesn’t just cover you. What if your bathtub overflows and runs to the tenant’s apartment downstairs, damaging their belongings? You’re at fault, not your landlord. That’s because you were distracted, not because of faulty building practices or maintenance. If you lack insurance, you could be sued personally for coverage. If you do have insurance, that’s where the “liability coverage” comes in — they’re covering your butt.
All that and more!
Your renter’s insurance is meant to take the risk out of your life. Beyond all of these myths, there are other considerations the average renter doesn’t realize is neutralized with home insurance.
For example, when I had my bicycle stolen while attending a parade downtown one day, my insurance bought me a spankin’ new bike. Yes, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers your stuff when it’s not at home too! If you’re travelling and your laptop is stolen, that’ll usually be covered by your home insurance even if you’re in Florence, Italy or doing a Mekong River cruise in Laos.
It’s worth it
I feel sorry when I see people who “lose everything” in a fire or whatever, but my sympathy is often tempered by anger. One small monthly fee could’ve saved them everything. As little as $15 a month was all it took to protect themselves, and now they’re turning to the community for help that no one should have to provide. People are donating money that should be going in their own savings, or feeding their kids, or improving their lives, all because someone neglected to spend $15 to $60 a month.
That sounds heartless, but it’s true.
Even when I could barely afford groceries a few years ago, I ensured my rental insurance was paid, because if I lost everything, I’d have had to choose between having a home with nothing in it, or becoming homeless so I could rebuild my life.
Don’t take the risk. Homeowner’s insurance, including rental insurance, could make the difference from having one of your worst days ever to just being inconvenienced for a few weeks. Which would you rather?