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After a dorm experience, renting an apartment may feel like living in the Ritz Carlton. For many college students, apartment life represents one of the first major steps toward self-sufficiency and autonomy, but as those well into adulthood know, reward goes hand in hand with risk.

Renter’s insurance may seem like a trivial formality or easy corner to cut, especially on a student budget, but it’s not just another piece of parental advice to be brushed aside. While complexes and owners have insurance policies covering damage to the physical building, those policies don’t cover your personal property.

What does that mean for me?

Should your jewelry, clothing, furniture, electronics, or anything else in your unit be stolen or damaged for any reason, your landlord has no responsibility to replace or compensate for your losses.

Imagine walking into your apartment to find your laptop or brand-new TV stolen. How are you supposed to turn in your online assignments? How are you going to watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones? No big deal if you have easy access to the funds required to replace them, but this is where we’ll acknowledge the typical student budget again.

It’s much less stressful to believe you’ll never find yourself in a similar predicament, but it’s also much less stressful to plan for this kind of situation before it actually happens.

So, what specifically does renter’s insurance cover?

Personal Property

The typical renter’s policy protects your possessions in the event of water damage, fire, vandalism, theft, power surges, and other uncontrollable circumstances.

It’s important to note that most policies do not cover damages that are the result of natural environmental disasters. Usually, the effects of earthquakes, floods, and mudslides aren’t considered.

Some belongings may only be covered up to a certain dollar amount by your insurance company. It’s a good idea to specifically ask your agent about limits on items like jewelry or electronics. If the cap on your policy won’t cover the price of your prized necklace or your state- of the-art entertainment system, a personal articles policy can be tagged onto your renter’s insurance for a relatively low cost (typically a few dollars a month.)

Liability

Renter’s insurance can protect you from instances of accidental negligence. For instance, you’ve just made dinner with your stove – a luxury you didn’t have access to during your dorm days. Being the busy college student that you are, you start to tend to your other responsibilities and forget to turn off the stove. Luckily for you, most policies provide at least $100,000 of protection against liability claims or lawsuits brought by third parties, which should likely cover the smoke inhalation claim your neighbor is filing.

Liability insurance can also protect you from negligence claims that are out of your direct control. Maybe your guest opens the door and accidentally lets out your new puppy, who then runs and bites a tenant. The average cost of a dog bite claim is approximately $35,000 – probably a little over budget.

This kind of coverage does not include negligence related to business pursuits (you sold cupcakes baked in your apartment that accidentally gave someone food poisoning) or intentional bodily harm (you poison the cupcakes baked in your apartment.)

Loss of Use

A pipe bursts in your apartment complex. You’ll be able to live there again, as soon as maintenance makes repairs. The loss of use portion of renter’s insurance will cover the cost of your hotel, food, and other necessary expenses due to the accident.

Renter’s insurance seems like a good idea. How much coverage will I need?

It’s possible your landlord requires a specific minimum in liability coverage. If not, an agent can assist you in determining what you need.

The amount of property damage coverage depends on the value of your belongings. It may be worth doing research to see how much it would cost to replace your most important possessions. When in doubt, take pictures and videos of your things so you have them on record.

Moving into an apartment is a life milestone for many college students, but so is purchasing insurance to protect yourself. These big changes can be overwhelming, but the agents at Penny Insurance Agency can walk you through the process. Contact us to talk about a renter’s policy that’s right for you!

References:
https://www.valuepenguin.com/how-does-renters-insurance-cover-personal-liability
https://www.themuse.com/advice/do-you-really-need-renters-insurance