Being a renter can mean leaving all kinds of hassles to the owner: Repairs, maintenance and simply mowing the lawn are usually the responsibility of the landlord, who also provides insurance for the structure against damage or destruction.
Their insurance policy, however, doesn’t cover the renter’s belongings inside the rented space. If your furniture, clothes and computer, along with any other personal belongings, are destroyed in a fire, for example, you’ll have to pay to replace everything — unless you have renters insurance.
Renters insurance covers personal property by losses caused by weather or non-weather events, such as theft, vandalism, riots, aircraft and vehicles. Your policy will list the covered losses. Losses aren’t typically covered if the insured intentionally caused the loss or runs a business out of their rental.
Usually for less than $1 per day, renters can insure thousands of dollars of personal property in the apartment,
Some insurance companies offer discounts for adding safety features that should reduce the risk of a disaster in the rental property. Here are seven possible discounts insurers offer, though it’s worth checking with your landlord and insurance agent first to make sure it’s OK to install them and that you’ll get a discount:
Landlords should already have smoke detectors installed in rental units. Most states require them by law, so if your rental doesn’t have them, ask your landlord to buy smoke detectors and install them.
Smoke detectors alert you to a fire quicker, hopefully giving you time to get outside to a safer location or to possibly put out the fire quickly and minimize property damage.
America has the highest per capita death rate from fire in the industrialized world, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
Three out of five home fire deaths are from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, and 37 percent are from fires where no smoke alarm was present. The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half when a smoke alarm is working.
Insurers may also offer discounts for having a fire extinguisher that’s working. One in a kitchen can keep a stovetop fire from spreading to your other possessions.
They should be checked monthly to ensure they’re working, and the extinguisher should be easy to get to and not blocked in a closet by coats or anything else.
If a burglar tries to pick the locks on your doors, a deadbolt can add an extra line of defense for a few dollars.
The high volume of foot traffic in apartment complexes can increase the chances of a break-in. Add deadbolts to front, back and side doors.
A home security system can be as expensive as you want to make it. You can hire a professional alarm company to install a burglar alarm and other forms of surveillance, or you can install video cameras yourself.
An around-the-clock security system can alert tenants and police to harm and can prevent the loss of your property.
Insurers will likely charge higher rates for renters insurance in high crime neighborhoods. If you live in such a neighborhood, it can be worthwhile to move to a safer one if you can afford it.
Check with your police department for the crime rates in areas you’re considering. By living in a safer part of town, you’re decreasing your chance of having your home burglarized.
Talk to your landlord
Whatever upgrades you're considering adding, first discuss them with your landlord and point out that not only will you save you money on renter’s insurance, but they’ll likely save money on homeowners insurance for the property for having the extra safety measures.
Also check with your insurance carrier to ensure the premium will drop when adding the upgrades. Adding a security system may help you sleep better at night, but a discount on renter’s insurance for having it can help make that sleep a little more peaceful.