Apartment hunting can be torture but once you find the right place, everything gets a little easier. One of the first things you need to tackle is your insurance needs.
When it comes to insurance, the first thing many renters say is “My landlord has an insurance policy so I don’t need one, right?” That’s wrong. Your landlord’s policy is to protect your landlord; you need your own policy to cover your belongings.
As you step out on your own and rent an apartment it’s important to be sure you are covered, no matter what. This doesn’t just mean renters insurance, it means all aspects of your insurance coverage. The first thing you should do to protect yourself is to ask the right questions then follow up with your agent and let them know your concerns and needs.
Questions to Ask the Landlord
Do you have landlords insurance?
It’s important that they have the coverage that they need. Their landlord insurance doesn’t cover your things or something you are liable for, but it will cover issues that the landlord is liable for.
What does your landlord insurance cover for liability?
As the landlord, it is their job to maintain certain things about the apartment. This should also be part of the discussion and contract that you sign. Once you understand what it is they are responsible for, make sure they have enough coverage if something happens. For example, if it is their job to shovel and de-ice, make sure if someone falls and is hurt on the property while visiting you, your landlord has enough liability insurance to cover the incident, medical payments, and whatever other costs may be incurred. This is more common than you think.
Is the building in a flood zone?
If you are in an apartment that is in a flood zone, you should get flood insurance coverage for your things. Renters may think they won’t need flood insurance, but it’s important if all of your personal possessions are ruined that you have the coverage you need to replace those items. This isn’t something that your landlord or their landlords insurance is going to cover. Chances are they will only have flood insurance coverage for the structure of the building.
Is there a history of theft, vandalism or other crimes?
Let me start by saying this should not determine whether or not you need renters insurance because it is something you always should have. However, if you find you are in an area with a tendency for break-ins you may want to mention you would like more coverage to your agent. If you are at more risk it makes it even more important to have enough coverage. It may also be another reason to choose replacement cost coverage over actual cash value (see below for more explanation).
How safe is the street and is there private parking?
This could obviously factor into your risk for accidents and other issues like scratches and dents to your car while parked. Depending on the neighborhood or any concerns the landlord voices you may want to up some of the coverage on your car insurance. If you aren’t bringing a car, but may borrow your roommates’, make sure you have car insurance. If you are not bringing your car and decide to cancel your policy, you will not have coverage when you drive someone else’s car. Call an agent if this is the case and they can help you make sure you have coverage.
Questions to Ask Your Agent
How much does renters insurance cost?
Renters insurance can cost as little as $10 a month and considering the coverage you get, it’s a great deal. If you have auto insurance you can bundle those policies with the same carrier and save money on your car insurance. In some cases, the amount you end up saving on your car insurance by bundling a renters insurance policy can be equal to the cost of renters insurance. To get the exact cost of renters insurance a month, call an agent today for a quote.
Does my insurance policy have replacement cost coverage (RCC) or actual cash value (ACV) for my personal property?
You will be much better off with replacement cost coverage (RCC), which will pay to replace your things at current market value, without taking depreciation into account. Actual cash value (ACV) will take into account the value of your items at the time they were stolen, counting depreciation that has taken place.
Do my roommates and I need separate coverage?
Only the people listed on the policy will be covered. It is recommended that all household members have their own renters insurance policy. This means that each roommate should have their own renters insurance policy. Your renters insurance policy is primarily covering your things so don’t expect a roommates insurance to replace your belongings.
The saying “there is no such thing as a stupid question” is something a good insurance agent is going to strongly agree with. Insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong. In order to be sure your insurance can do that you’ll need to understand your own needs and your insurance policies. Asking questions is a great way to insure this happens.