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Thanks for making it easy to find the cheapest renters insurance. Knowing our stuff is always protected gives me peace of mind.

Matt and Bethany, Charleston SC

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Many tenants do not realize that they need apartment renters insurance. They mistakenly believe that the same insurance that would cover the building, carried by the owner, would reimburse them in the event of loss. It will not. The owner of the apartment building carries insurance on the building only. Your personal belongings are your own responsibility.

Take a moment to look around your apartment and think of all the things that you own. There are your clothes, of course. Perhaps you have suits or dress clothes which you must wear to work, as well as casual clothes for after hours. You may have a wardrobe for summer and one for winter. And then, naturally, you have shoes and boots, along with jackets and overcoats.

What about all of your electronics? Do you have a computer and printer? You likely have a television, stereo, and DVD player. Think about what it would cost to replace these items. If you own your furniture, you may have thousands of dollars invested which is why it's important to know what renters insurance does cover. At minimum, you probably have a living room set, a dining table with chairs, and a bedroom suite. You may also have a computer desk, a stand for your television and related items, and perhaps some shelves or curio cabinets.

Your may have also added your own personal decorating touches to your apartment. Mirrors and paintings on the walls, a mountain of throw pillows on the sofa, and area rugs are just some of the items you may have purchased since moving into your new home. You might even have bought new curtains for the windows to match a new bedspread or comforter.

When you start totaling up the cost of replacing every item in your apartment, you will quickly see how much you could benefit from apartment renters insurance in the event of a catastrophe. And for those who feel it can’t happen to them, consider the following scenarios.

• In 2008, a fire in Salt Lake City displaced nearly 100 residents from 39 units in an apartment building. The fire was believed to have been started by a cigarette in one of the units. Several of the apartments, with all of the contents, burned, and the rest suffered severe smoke and water damage.

• Residents from 60 units had to be evacuated when a fire broke out in the laundry room of a Minnesota apartment complex. Smoke and water damage destroyed the contents of most of the apartments.

• A relatively small tornado struck a Florida apartment building in 2007, removing the roof and making 75 residents homeless. Most lost all of their belongings due to wind, water, and hail damage.

• In Indianapolis, a twister damaged all 218 units and 65 buildings of a large apartment complex. Roofs were blown away, along with some residents’ belongings.

• Hurricanes frequently result in displaced apartment residents due to roof loss. Hurricane Ike damaged thousands of units in the Galveston and Houston area, and everyone knows what happened when Katrina hit New Orleans.

In all of these cases, residents were unable to return to their homes for several weeks and in some cases, several months. In the meantime, they stayed at shelters, with friends or relatives, or were forced to rent motel rooms for the duration.

Once they were able to return home or find new accommodations, they were faced with the prospect of replacing everything they owned, since most escaped with only the clothes on their backs. Few of them carried apartment renters insurance to help offset any of the costs of temporary lodging or purchasing new furnishings.

There are other types of coverage you can get with apartment renters insurance - theft and liability. Imagine coming home to find your apartment has been broken into and all jewelry and electronics have been stolen. Renters are burglarized at rates almost 80% higher than owner occupied homes. Or suppose you call for maintenance to repair your dishwasher. The repairman arrives, and while working on your repair request, your dog bites him. He sues you to recover the cost of medical treatment. Without apartment renters insurance, you could be held liable and have to pay out of your pocket.

Few renters carry insurance, yet apartment renters insurance is very inexpensive. A policy for the average renter will run between $100 and $250 per year, depending on the company you select, the deductible you choose, and the types of coverage you need. If you have valuable antiques or artwork, furs, and expensive jewelry, you will need to cover these items at either a higher policy amount or through a separate rider to make sure you have adequate coverage.

For that small amount, you gain peace of mind, knowing that in the event of a disaster or theft, you will be covered for the loss of your personal goods, the cost of temporary lodging and meals while you are displaced, and any liability claims filed against you. Seldom does the loss in an apartment disaster the result of any action of the tenant or his guests. Most fires begin in one unit and quickly spread to other apartments, which, even if they do not burn, suffer from smoke and water damage. Natural disasters such as tornadoes cannot be controlled, nor can burglaries be prevented. With an apartment renters insurance policy, you need not worry about how you will cope if you are the victim of such a loss.

When shopping for apartment renters insurance, be sure and read the policy carefully to determine the limits of coverage. Some policies, for example, do not cover loss from floods or earthquakes unless specifically requested. You may have to request a rider be attached if you need to be insured against that type of loss. This will normally result in an additional fee if you live in California and need to add earthquake renters insurance. Also, consider your deductible amount carefully. The higher your deductible, the lower the premiums. However, you need to be sure that you can afford to pay the deductible, and that it is not set at such a high level that you have eliminated much of the benefit of carrying the insurance in the first place. Also consider whether you want to carry coverage that offers replacement cost value or actual cost value. Replacement cost value will cover what it will actually cost to replace your belongings. Actual cost value will take into account depreciation on the items, and will pay what they were worth after adjustment.

It is not difficult to find apartment renters insurance online. There are numerous sites that work with multiple companies where you can enter your information once and receive quotes from all of them. Just compare the coverage and the rates, and then check the rating on the best choices for your situation to make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. Within minutes, you can purchase your policy and rest easy, knowing that if the worst happens, you will be protected.