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What Is Renters Insurance?

If you are thinking about renting an apartment, many experts suggest purchasing renters insurance. However, many renters either don’t know about it or don’t think they need it. Renters insurance is (generally) an optional insurance policy that individuals renting their apartment or home can purchase to cover their own personal property in the event of a burglary or accident.

Why Should You Get It?

Your landlord’s insurance policy does not cover your personal belongings. Basic renter’s insurance policies are inexpensive and can cover a variety of items such as electronics, clothing, appliances and furniture, and can pay for a place for you to stay if your property becomes uninhabitable. Some policies also cover reimbursement for possessions that may be stolen from somewhere other than the property that is being insured.

Most renter’s insurance policies provide two basic types of coverage: personal property and liability. Liability insurance provides coverage against a claim or lawsuit resulting from bodily injury or property damage to others caused by an accident while on the policyholder’s property.

How to Get It

To determine how much insurance you need, talk to your insurance company or your agent about the property you want to insure and what kind of hazards you would like to have covered by the insurance. Flood insurance, for example, would not be included in a normal policy and would have to be purchased separately.

To figure out exactly how much coverage you need, you may consider tallying up the cost of furniture, electronics, kitchen supplies, and clothing to determine how much you’d need to replace those items. There is also a difference between reimbursement for an item’s actual cash value, which is its current value, and reimbursement for the full value of the replacement cost. Purchasing replacement cost coverage is more expensive, but it is more likely to offer accurate compensation should you need to have possessions replaced. Younger renters often underestimate the cost of their possessions, which can be a lot higher than expected once everything is added up!  Specialty items, such as expensive jewelry or collector’s items, may require you to purchase additional insurance known as a rider. If you’re unsure if one of your belongings would need a rider, ask your insurance agent.

For more information about renters insurance or how to find an agent, contact the Division of Insurance’s Consumer Services Department. The DOI also has a guide to renters insurance for college students on their website.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm.  Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws and Arbitration Program, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.

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