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How Renters Insurance Can Save You

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By Althea Chang

Even if you�ve downsized your apartment or rental home during the recession, chances are, you have a computer, TV or clothes that you�d rather not live without.

What would you do if all of your belongings went down in flames? Could you afford to replace them?

Putting a Price on Security

If you�re a renter, you can�t rely on your landlord�s insurance to cover your lost belongings in the event of a fire, flood or other damage. A landlord�s insurance only covers the rented building itself, insurance experts say.

Even college students could need renters insurance for belongings in their dorm room if they�re not covered under their parents� homeowners policy.

So think of your computers, clothes, furniture you love and things you collect. Could you replace everything you own if it was irreparably damaged? If your stuff is worth several thousand dollars, it may be worth it to pay to be able to.

Renters insurance generally costs between $8 and $25 per month, or about $100 to $300 per year, according to Mark Strauss, a Portland, Ore. Independent Insurance Broker. And it can be especially worth it since it actually covers more than just your stuff.

What�s Covered

1. Belongings. Some renters insurance plans can cover more than just what your possessions are currently worth. They can even cover the cost to replace them, which could be a significantly higher amount.

Renters insurance can also protect items that are most likely to be stolen, like a laptop or bike, regardless of where you are, says renters insurance provider State Farm.

2. A Place to Stay. If something happens to the residence you�re renting, whether it�s a flood, a fire, or some other condition that makes it uninhabitable, renters insurance can cover the cost of staying somewhere else until you can move back, State Farm says.

3. Liability. In addition, if a guest at your home is injured and holds you responsible, your renters insurance can cover the person�s medical bills as well as your legal defense, according to Geico, which also offers renters insurance.

Getting the Plan You Need

Like health insurance plans, renters insurance coverage can vary widely.

At renters insurance provider Progressive.com, for example, you�ll have to take an inventory of your furniture, electronics, computer equipment and clothing in order to determine how much coverage you need, which determines how much you�ll have to pay for it.

In addition to personal property coverage, it�s also up to you to decide how much personal liability coverage to get in case someone else is hurt in your home or otherwise, and how much damage to your home you might be liable for.

Another factor affecting how much you�ll have to pay for renters insurance is the deductible you choose. If you choose a higher deductible, which is what you have to pay before your benefits really kick in, your premium will be less than if you choose a low deductible, Strauss explains.

Once you calculate how much it would cost you to replace your belongings, several other factors are considered when determining your premiums. Those include the number of units in your building, whether you have pets, what your credit score is and whether you�ve submitted any renters insurance claims before, according to Progressive spokeswoman Susan Rouser.

Also: where you live matters. Prices can vary by state, and the premiums are generally lower in the Midwest states, Rouser says.

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