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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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HOW MUCH RENTERS INSURANCE DO I NEED

A common question among renters thinking about getting into a policy is, "How much renters insurance do I need?" This is both a fair and pertinent question. In fact, it is one of the best questions a renter can ask to focus their efforts on building the right policy to suit their needs. The answer to this question has many components, and it really depends on the specifics of your situation. Since rental coverage includes property protection, one important component of the answer involves an analysis of how much you own. It also has something to do with who is covered on your policy. If you are a single student living in an off campus apartment, your answer will probably be different than it would for the head of a large household insuring a growing family in a rented home. The premium you pay for renters insurance is influenced by the coverage you elect to include, so the answer to this question also involves your budget. You might opt for a little more coverage if you can afford it or a little less if you are a bit cash strapped.

Property Coverage Plays a Part

Renters attempting to figure out how much coverage they need should probably begin by taking an inventory of their belongings. This might seem like a big job, but it's usually not as bad as it sounds. You can even get free help in the form of inventory worksheets from renters insurance companies. You can get these worksheets online. What you need to do is simple: just write down all the things you own, plus an estimate of its replacement cost. Come up with a value for all the personal possessions you will be insuring. For a family renters insurance policy, take down the possessions owned by every member of the family. At this point, a brief discussion of replacement cost is in order to simplify your task.

There are two different ways a renters insurance provider can insure your possessions, depending on the particulars of your plan. Most renters policies feature actual cash value coverage which covers items based on their depreciated (actual cash) value. In other words, this method of computing replacement value takes into account the way depreciation has lessened the value of the item lost in a claim. If you have a six year old computer lost in a fire, you will be compensated based on the insurance company's assessment of its present day market value, less your deductible. Actual cash value coverage is the default coverage in most renters insurance policies.

A more expensive insurance option for renters exploring their property coverage choices is full replacement or guaranteed replacement coverage. The name of this type of protection may vary, but the basic principle is as follows: as an insured policy holder, you would get compensated for that same six year old computer in the amount your insurer deems sufficient to purchase a new computer at current market prices, less deductible. Obviously, renters will pay more for this variety of property protection. But some consumers feel it is worth the extra premium cost.

Size of Your Family Matters

There is also a major liability component to your renters insurance policy. The liability protection includes coverage for all people in your house. Thus, a bigger family might have more of a need for extensive liability insurance. Having a large family is great, but the more people you have living under one roof, the more opportunities for accidents and other claim events. Guests can get injured, property can be damaged, and other things can happen that lead to family liability insurance claims. Your renters insurance policy is invaluable for sheltering you and your loved ones from having to directly deal with the potential costs of these claims. But the bigger your family grows, the larger your need for liability insurance.

The same is true of the property portion of a renters insurance plan, for obvious reasons. When it is just you and your husband or wife, you only have so much stuff to insure against loss. But once there are three or four kids running around, your personal possessions tend to multiply. It's hard to even fit into a condo once you start having kids, just because they tend to accumulate so many clothes, toys and other belongings. As your family grows, so too does your need for solid renters insurance. Again, it is critical to get a good count of what you actually own as a family so that you are certain of carrying enough insurance as renters to take care of a major catastrophic claim. If a fire swept through your condominium and took away everything you own, you need to know that you would have sufficient renters insurance protection to start anew as a family.

Insurance Budget a Major Consideration

The general principle of cost versus coverage is well known to almost everyone. The more of any kind of protection you need, the more you will have to pay to get it. While it is hard to pinpoint an exact figure on how much renters insurance any particular individual or family might need, one handy reference is directly related to budget. As far as property protection is concerned, you probably know you have enough when you can replace everything you own with the renters policy you have in place. With liability, though, the threshold for need is not so cut and dried. For this reason, a lot of experts offer a sound piece of advice. Rental policies are cheap in comparison to other coverage types. The premiums are generally affordable enough that a lot of policy holders can pay the annual premium all at once. Often they are only in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars, although the cost does vary. Thus, experts say you should grab as much liability protection as you can afford. It is cheap, it is very useful, and you will get a great return on your investment if you ever have to open a single liability claim. Simply put, it is money well spent to increase your liability limits.

Renters insurance is a valuable commodity that in spite of its wonderful utility costs relatively little. Anyone from a senior citizen on down to a college student can get into a renters insurance policy for an affordable price. Whether you live in a townhouse or loft or any other rented dwelling, having great insurance protection is essential, and well within your reach. You can get online and find a great deal on a renters policy for a single person or a house full of people.

Renters who want to know how much coverage they need are best advised to just jump in and start investigating their options online. You can take a good look at different insurance companies and the prices they are offering, and get a good sense of how much you can afford for the budget you are under. You might not find a magic formula to tell you the perfect level of coverage. But you'll find a renters insurance policy and provider you can live with.