As the old adage goes: It’s better to be safe than sorry.
“For a couple hundred bucks a year, renters insurance offers not only coverage and protection but a peace of mind,” says David Brand, an insurance agent with over 23 years of experience. “Unfortunately, it takes something to happen to show the need for insurance.”
According to the Insurance Research Council, in 2006 only 43 percent of renters had insurance, compared with 96 percent of homeowners.
Luckily, Marie Mundaca had renters insurance when she was burglarized, not once but twice. “It ended up saving me because they took a lot of stuff and I had no trouble recouping my money,” she says.
Her first break-in happened in Alphabet City. She was living on the top floor of a walkup, and the robbers entered from a fire escape. They stole the usual suspects: electronics and money. The second time around, Mundaca was living in Washington Heights, again in a top-floor apartment. An insurance agent told her that top-floor apartments tend to fall prey to burglars, since they can enter through roofs.
Renters insurance covers your personal property from more than just theft. It also covers fires, falling objects and explosions (although not floods or earthquakes). And let’s say your drunk “frenemy” was injured at your apartment and sued you? Renters insurance offers liability coverage.
“Typical renters insurance in the New York area would be $150 and up for a year,” says Brand.
There are two types of insurance. An actual cash-value policy replaces your property at the price it is currently worth. For example, if you purchased a $800 flat-screen TV five years ago, and it’s worth $200 today, you would receive a $200 reimbursement (minus the deductible). With a replacement-cost policy, you would fully receive what you paid for items such as the $800 TV (again, minus the deductible). “It makes a big difference at claim time,” says Brand.
Remember to track your inventory. You have to take photos or videos of all your possessions and save your receipts of purchase for loss claims. Websites such as www.knowyourstuff.org helps you organize your items for free.