Why you need renters' insurance
VANCOUVER -- If you own a home, chances are you have homeowner’s insurance to protect you when disaster strikes. But what if you rent? Do you still need insurance? The answer is an emphatic yes, and those who have experienced disasters – like flooding, fires or big storms – know first-hand just how valuable it turns out to be.
When the deep freeze hit Texas in February, renter Amani Elsawah was one of the millions of people who lost power and suffered water damage when her frozen pipes burst.
“I was so shocked because it was literally raining in my apartment,” she says. “It was gushing out so much that it started flooding almost immediately.”
The damage was so bad, she was forced out of her home.
“I had to leave my apartment and find somewhere dry and safe to go.”
Since then, Elsawah has been living in a hotel, and the bills are adding up. Fortunately, she has renters insurance, which will pay some of her living expenses and help cover much of what she lost.
Her policy, since she signed up, has cost her about $20 each month. And that’s worth it in the long run, according to Penny Wang, Consumer Reports’ money editor.
“Renters insurance can provide an important safety net if something happens,” Wang says.
In addition to helping cover damage or theft of your property and reimbursement if you’re forced to move out, insurance offers liability protection if someone is injured in your home. It can also even cover some possessions outside of your home—like if something is stolen out of your car.
But with any type of insurance, Wang says it’s important to check the policy carefully.
“Renters insurance is fairly standardized, though coverage can vary based on the insurer and where you live,” she says. “Bottom line: Make sure you understand your policy--
What’s covered and what’s not.”
Wang suggests getting several quotes to make sure the policy gives you what you need—whether that’s a low deductible, additional coverage for your valuables, or, like Elsawah, a stay in a hotel if your apartment is damaged.
“You don’t know when you’re going to need it until you need it. And then once you need it, you’re glad that you have it.”
Wang also recommends doing a home inventory before disaster strikes. That can be as easy as taking a video and making a list of the important items in your house.
With files from Consumer Reports