Renters insurance keeps you, belongings safe

by Tom Simplot

Mar 11, 2014

Accidents certainly happen.


Someone comes over with a young child who spills a drink on a computer or tips over the entertainment center, breaking the television. Your dog tears up the carpet. or chews up the bathroom's linoleum. Or, in a matter of seconds, your fried chicken can turn turns into a small fire and do does thousands of dollars in damage.


But it's easy to protect yourself and your finances from accidents in apartments. The owner of an apartment carries insurance on the building and on the common structures, but it's your responsibility to insure your belongings and protect yourself from liability within your home.


For the cost of a couple of pizzas each month, you can insure your rental home and have peace of mind. Here are a few scenarios in which renters insurance may cover damages:


A friend leaves the bathtub running and the water overflows, causing damage to your floors and the apartment below. The cleanup and repair costs fall to you.


You leave the waffle iron cooking on the counter and a dish towel catches fire, damaging the cabinets above. You may or may not be responsible for the damage to the cabinets and building, but who covers belongings that suffer smoke or heat damage?


Smoke damage may ruin your curtains in the living room or your clothing in another room, and water overflowing from the tub could fry electronics that will need to be replaced. This insurance will help with these costs.


Renters insurance can also protect you from theft and vandalism. Items stolen from your home aren't covered by your landlord. A renters policy can also help cover costs of temporary housing, should an accident that you caused result in enough damage to force you to move out while the property is repaired. Temporary housing costs can be expensive and add up fast.


And, a policy could protect you from a lawsuit should a guest in your home get injured in an accident: someone could fall down the stairs or your dog may bite a visitor.


Prevention measures include installing a smoke alarm, a deadbolt lock and a fire extinguisher. These items can also earn you a discount on your renters insurance.


Check with your leasing office to see if they have a list of companies that provide rental insurance. Or, nearly every major insurance company offers renters insurance, and it's easy to comparison shop for coverage. You can also check with your car insurance company. You may get a discount if you can bundle your coverage with your auto or other insurance policies.


On average policies can range from $15 to $30 per month. Be sure to check what your coverage includes and be sure that you have the coverage you need. There are different kinds of policies and deductibles, so it's important to do a little research to protect yourself and your belongings.