6 Myths about Renter’s Insurance – and How to Save

Photo (cc) by stu_spivack

Wildfires in Arizona and Nevada, flooding along the Missouri River, and hurricane season throughout the southern United States. Times like these, homeowners fret about the insurance on their most expensive possession.

And renters? They shouldn’t be smug. Or uninsured. A natural disaster – or even a kitchen fire or broken pipe in an adjacent apartment – can wipe out everything they own too. That’s why there’s renter’s insurance. And in most circumstances, you should get it.

More than 81 million Americans rent – and according to this study done several years ago, 50 million of them don’t have renters insurance. Why? Maybe they believe one of these myths…

1. Like homeowner’s insurance, it’s expensive

Renter’s insurance is much cheaper than homeowner’s insurance. As we wrote in 5 Tips to Save on Rent, “You can typically get $30,000 of personal property coverage – against theft, fire, and natural disasters – for $150 to $300 a year.” And some estimates are even lower. According to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, the average cost is only $12 per month, or $144 per year, for $30,000 of property coverage and $100,000 of liability coverage. You can get renters insurance from companies like Lemonade for as little as $5 a month.

That’s a fraction of what homeowners pay. According to website HomeInsurance.com, the average annual cost of homeowners coverage in the United States is $727. (You can see an interactive map with the average cost in each state here.)

Why the difference? Because homeowners are insuring the cost of the building, while renters are just insuring the cost of the stuff inside the building.

“[Renters] are not responsible for the building in which they live, but they are most certainly responsible for their own belongings,” explains the Renter’s Insurance Online Guide.

And you can lower the low cost of renter’s insurance if you get it through the same company providing your car insurance. State Farm says, “You could be eligible for premium discounts on both policies.” So it’s worth a call to your agent. (See our other savings tips at the end of this story.)

2. My landlord has insurance, so I don’t need it

While your landlord probably has insurance to cover their building, your possessions aren’t their problem. In fact, since the landlord doesn’t own your stuff, they don’t have an insurable interest in it anyway.

3. My roommate has renter’s insurance, so I don’t need it

Some policies cover roommates, but most don’t. So you better ask your roomie to make sure. But even then, there are a couple good reasons to have your own policy.

For starters, these policies have deductibles and limits on the dollars they pay out. Have you already talked about splitting the deductible? What if your stuff is more expensive than your roommate’s stuff? The time to settle these important details isn’t the day after you’ve lost all your possessions.

In addition, another advantage to renter’s insurance is liability protection. As Moving.com so eloquently puts it, “When your best friend trips on a rug and breaks a leg, who wants to be surprised by a bill for what could amount to thousands of dollars?” Your policy not only covers damage to your stuff, it protects damage to people should an accident occur.

4. I don’t have enough stuff worth insuring

Do you own a new laptop computer? Or a flat-screen TV? When we think of valuables in a home, we often look no further than furniture and major appliances. We tend to forget about electronics and even the little things that add up to a lot of cash. AllState has a nifty online tool called How Much Stuff Do You Own? It tallies up your clothing, jewelry, and even stuff you may not use a lot – your guitar, your gas grill, and your vacuum cleaner.

5. I’ll never get hit with a natural disaster

While renter’s insurance doesn’t typically cover losses from floods or earthquakes, it does protect you from lots of other things. As FreeAdvice points out…

A renter’s policy (generally known as an HO-4 policy) typically provides policyholders with a fixed amount for all your possessions and provides coverage for specific “perils” such as: fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, explosion, riot or civil commotion, aircraft, vehicles, smoke, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, damage by glass or safety-glazing material that is part of a building, volcanic eruption, falling objects, weight of ice, snow, or sleet, water-related damage from home utilities, and electrical surge damage.

And if some of those tragedies don’t seem likely (volcanic eruption comes to mind), here’s one that is: burglary. The U.S. Department of Justice says there were 2,199,125 of them in 2009, and “victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property… The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,096.”

6. It’s too complicated

Well, no insurance is simple, that’s true. But here are the basics of renter’s insurance – and how you can save along the way…

Taking some off the top: The more risk you’re willing to assume, the less your policy will cost. Choosing a $500 deductible over a $250 deductible can save 10-12 percent, and a $1,000 deductible can save even more

Abbreviating the options: There are two acronyms you need to know: AVC and RVC. The first stands for Actual Value Coverage. That means you get paid for the depreciated value of the loss. So for instance, that laptop you bought for $1,000 might only be worth $500 six months later – and that’s all you’re going to get for it.

RVC stands for Replacement Value Coverage. In that same example, you won’t necessarily get what you paid for your laptop, but you’ll get enough to buy another one just like it. “Replacement Cost Insurance normally costs about 25 percent more than the Actual Cash Value policy.” RentersInsurance.net says, “but if you can afford it, it’s worth the larger payment.”

Location, location, location: If you live in a high-crime area, expect your premiums to be higher. But you can still save if you install a home alarm or add a deadbolt to the front door: Ask your carrier what discounts they offer.

Membership has its privileges: Some insurers will offer you discounts for being a member of a credit union, AAA, or other organization, so be sure to ask.

Give up smoking: Many accidental fires are from smokers. Some companies offer discounts if you’ve kicked the habit or never started. Ask about this too.

Come highly rated: Many insurance companies check your credit rating. The lower your score, the higher your premiums. You can try asking about a company’s policy, but the best bet is simply to shop around for the lowest rate.

Shop around: The Internet has created a veritable flood of competition for virtually everything we shop for, and insurance is no exception. And you don’t have to go far: Do a search for “Home Insurance” on our insurance page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
4 Ways the Social Security System Will Change in 2020
4 Ways the Social Security System Will Change in 2020

These adjustments will impact both workers and retirees in the new year.

9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them
9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them

These time-tested methods can help us live smarter today.

10 Ways Anyone Can Earn More Income
10 Ways Anyone Can Earn More Income

Looking for additional cash? Here are a bunch of options that are accessible to anyone with internet access.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

This Grocery Store Is Cheaper Than Even Walmart
This Grocery Store Is Cheaper Than Even Walmart

One grocery chain is likely to save you more money than any other.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them
15 Outrageously Overpriced Products — and How to Save on Them

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.