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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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Are you among the estimated 75% of American renters who don’t carry renter’s insurance? If not, you may be surprised to know some facts that the other 25% of us learned, some of us the hard way.

Did you know that your landlord’s insurance does not cover your personal belongings? None of your valuable possessions, such as jewelry, televisions, stereos, computers, art work, furniture, collectibles, etc. are protected against loss, theft or destruction unless they’re covered by renter’s insurance. Even your clothing could be lost.

You would probably be surprised to know that the typical single person has more than 19,000 in personal property. This includes furniture, electronics, clothing, kitchen items, sports equipment and other property. If you have jewelry, art, books and any appliances, the total grows.

You may think you can’t afford renter’s insurance. The fact is, renter’s insurance is cheap, especially when you consider the cost of other types of insurance and what it would cost you to replace your possessions in the event of a catastrophe.

Basic renter’s insurance protects your personal property against destruction and theft. Renters liability insurance coverage also prevents you from being liable if another person becomes injured on your property. You should seriously consider purchasing the insurance whether you rent an apartment, house or condominium.

You have a choice between two types of renter’s insurance: Actual Cash Value Insurance and Replacement Cost Insurance.

If your valuables were lost or stolen, then the "ACV" or Actual Cash Value Insurance policy would reimburse you for the depreciated value of the items. To illustrate, if you bought a television for $2,400 and a thief stole it, but the television was worth $1,500 at the time it was stolen, the insurance company would reimburse you for $1,500.

If you had "RCV" or Replacement Cost Insurance, your policy would pay you the amount of money it would take to replace your television on the day it was stolen. Replacement Cost Insurance normally costs about 25% more than the Actual Cash Value policy but if you can afford it, it’s worth the larger payment.

If your possessions include expensive jewelry, hi-tech electronic equipment, high priced collectibles, etc. the basic renter’s policies just described probably won’t provide an adequate level of coverage. For instance, most basic policies will cover only a maximum of $2,000 of lost or stolen jewelry. The same holds true for other high dollar items. If you have property like this, you should consider purchasing renter’s insurance with increased limits or with special supplementary coverage. This is sometimes referred to as article coverage.

The most inexpensive renter’s insurance policies normally protect up to $10,000 worth of your possessions. To receive protection for around $30,000 to $35,000 of your possessions and up to $300,000 for liability, you might pay between $150 and $300 per year.

Some insurers offer discounts if you have protective devices such as smoke and fire detectors, fire extinguishers and burglar alarms. Some insurers offer discounts to clients who are over age 55 or retired. Still others offer discounts if you purchase other insurance policies from them, such as auto.

Renter’s insurance protects your property from 16 types of losses:

• Theft
• Fire or lightening
• Windstorm or hail
• Smoke
• Explosion
• Vandalism or malicious mischief
• Weight of ice, snow or sleet
• Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or automatic fire-protective sprinkler system, or from a household appliance
• Volcanic eruption
• Falling objects
• Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system, an air conditioning or automatic fire-protective system
• Freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic, fire-protective sprinkler system, or of a household appliance
• Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current

You’ll notice that floods and earthquakes aren’t on the list. If you live in an area prone to these disasters, you’ll need to look into separate policies or riders.

Most renter’s insurance policies include "ALE" or Additional Living Expenses coverage. This covers your living expenses while your living space is being repaired or replaced.

Liability coverage protects you in the event someone is injured on your property. The means that if someone on your property slips and falls, then your insurance pays any costs up to your policy limit. If the person sues you, you’re covered for whatever they might win in a court judgment, including legal expenses, up to your policy limit.

If you rent a property, have renter’s insurance and take a roommate, only you and your possessions are covered under your policy unless you add your roommate to the policy. This can be easily done but your premiums will increase.

To write a renters insurance policy, your agent will need a few things from you. Make a detailed list of the property you want insured. Make a list of serial numbers for every item that has one. If you have receipts, attach those to your list. For things for which you have no receipts, estimate the value of the items. In the matter of high dollar items, take pictures of your property or videotape each room and include those with the list you’ll be giving your agent.

The Insurance Information Institute provides free inventory software that aids you in creating a room-by-room inventory of your personal belongings. For more information go to