My Latest Favorite Google Search: What is Renter’s Insurance and Why Do I Need It?
Like you and many others that will be reading this article, I am currently looking for a place to live in NYC. This is a completely different playing field than what I was used to in college. Back then, you looked at a couple of places and made your decision upon which floor was less likely to cave in. Life was simple back then. You didn’t have to worry about aggressive leasing agents, what kind of Wi-Fi the apartment offered, people snatching up the lease before you could even apply, and things like renter’s insurance.
Maybe you dabbled in a lease’s details here and there when your guarantor asked exactly what they would be signing for. But it is nothing like apartment hunting as an adult. Now things are more permanent, more serious. It’s scary. It’s stressful. Especially with the market the way it is now, it is almost virtually impossible to find the perfect place that checks off every single one of your boxes. There are so many pieces of information being thrown at you left and right that it is nearly impossible to keep up. Google doc tables become your best friend and then before you know it, you’re signing for your first apartment in the big world.
There are lots of things you need to know about what to look for in a lease. For example: what amenities the apartment offers, which kind of furniture items are necessary and which will end up sitting on a top shelf with dust on it, how much pet fees you owe if you already own or are thinking of getting a pet… However, one of the most important things to suss out though, is most certainly renter’s insurance.
Now you may be thinking “what in the world is renter’s insurance?” Don’t worry, it’s a foreign concept to me too. Or at least it was until my mother asked me what I was doing about it and then found myself in a Google deep dive trying to figure it out. The sites I found were ridden with technical property terms that I could hardly understand and the paragraphs that insurance pages were offering looked more like a mumble jumble of nothing.
For the sake of myself (and for you as well) I have broken it down in simple terms — something you can refer back to when you get the phone call asking if you’ve purchased renter’s insurance or not. Which, to be honest, I really recommend that you do.
So, what exactly is renter’s insurance? Essentially, it is a policy that covers a multitude of mishaps that may happen in the place you are renting. For example: theft, water damage, injuries, incidents resulting from natural disasters and a plethora of other random scenarios that you would not think could happen but evidentially do. For only about 50 cents a day, you and other roommates that are listed on the policy can be covered by most setbacks.
One of the good things about renting a property is that it is a landlord’s responsibility to maintain it. Not yours. Crack in the ceiling? No need to run to Home Depot and watch YouTube tutorials on how to fix it. Just call your landlord and they will have it sorted for you. But you still hold authority over your belongings and the people that you invite into your space. If your couch gets ruined from a flood by said crack in the ceiling, your landlord does not have to replace it. However, if you were to have renter’s insurance then it would be covered.
Another example, let’s say your friends come home after a long night out and about. One of them walks into your kitchen, stumbles across the floor, and by some way or another sprains their wrist. You don’t know this person very well and suddenly panic strikes through your body. What if they make a claim that the floor was slippery because you had just cleaned and that’s why they fell? Sounds silly, but I would be lying if I said it hasn’t happened before. Thankfully renter’s insurance would cover any legal fees involved in a case that is made against you.
Hopefully, with that simple explanation, you now know what renter’s insurance is! Next up, how do you share it with your roommates? First, you should take note of coverage limits that exist on most if not all insurance policies. This is the maximum amount of money an insurance company will offer you in the case that something happens. When sharing renter’s insurance, it is good to figure out all items that are split between you and your roommate/s to see if you meet the coverage limit. This coverage limit does not increase or decrease depending on how many people are on it, so make sure you have all your ducks in a row.
Be clear on the pricing of renter’s insurance and see if your roommates are comfortable splitting the price. Like I said before, it’s only about 50 cents a day which averages to $15/month, but you don’t want to be stuck solely paying a reoccurring charge that involves everyone under your roof. You may even decide it is affordable enough that you can each have your own set of renter’s insurance so you don’t have to share. Maybe your roommate is a complete klutz and has accidents all the time in which then you may want to discuss having multiple sets of renter’s insurance.
In the case that you are sharing insurance, it is important to note that all claim checks will be payable to both of you. Either party can cancel or change the policy at any given time, so make sure that you trust your roommate/s enough to share with them. Also, if your roommate/s should steal from you, this would be a type of theft not covered by renter’s insurance which makes things tricky. I can’t highlight enough the importance of sharing insurance with someone that you know well enough to trust.
Now that you are more familiar with renter’s insurance, go out there and shop for one that fits your requirements and needs! Always make sure to carefully read through the insurance policies so you are familiar with what you are signing up for. Best of luck!