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The Essential Overlooked Protection: Renter’s Insurance

By Michael Johnson

For Austin Roberts, a third-year nursing major at Emory University, moving into his first apartment was an exciting process. 

Immersed in thoughts of decor and furniture options, he and his roommates had planned every aspect of their apartment. When it came time to move into his apartment, however, he was faced with the one thing he had not considered: renter’s insurance.

“I feel like it’s not one of the main considerations when you’re thinking about your rent, your power, your water and your cable,” Roberts said.

Renter’s insurance is a type of coverage that protects a renter against financial losses if personal  property is damaged or lost to theft or a disaster, according to SafeHome.org. The insurance education organization explained that in the case of a fire, for example, a landlord’s insurance would cover the building, but the renter would be responsible for the contents of the unit. SafeHome said only 55% of renters have renter’s insurance.

“This was our first apartment so we just weren’t considering what could possibly go wrong,” Roberts said.

Although renter’s insurance was offered by his apartment complex, Roberts decided to research on his own for the most affordable option that had better coverage.

“I feel like in some senses since a lot of the ones are being aimed at college students, they kind of make it seem like it’s your only option,” Roberts said as he talked about the renter’s insurance his apartment complex offered.

All that research came in handy when Roberts woke up to water spilling through the roof of his apartment due to renovations on the apartment above him, almost damaging his roommates clothes and other belongings.

“It was a nice peace of mind because my roommates weren’t there and I had to call them and inform them what was going on,” Roberts said. “And they were more comforted knowing that we had insurance to potentially cover any damages.”

According to Rob Hoyt, professor of risk management insurance at the University of Georgia, college students often overlook renter’s insurance because it is not always required.

“In most states, when I want to drive a vehicle, the state will require me to buy auto insurance,” Hoyt said, “but I may not have that same pressure in regard to renting.” 

Another reason college students might overlook renter’s insurance is because they undervalue their belongings, thinking if a disaster were to happen, the loss would not be that great, Hoyt said. With this mindset, the renter can often forget that a renter’s insurance policy incorporates liability coverage as well.

“If I’m going down the steps at my apartment and I bump into somebody else and they fall down the steps and injure themselves I’m likely going to be liable for those injuries, those damages, and the renter’s policy would provide coverage for that,” Hoyt explained.

According to Hoyt, similar to building a credit history, purchasing renter’s insurance highlights a person’s financial responsibility, making insurance companies more inclined to assess and underwrite future potential risks.

“Establishing that you’ve had renter’s insurance for a couple of years without any claims can only help if then, subsequently, you look to acquire a condo or buy a house and you need a homeowner’s policy,” Hoyt said, “then you’re going to be in a much better position to do that as well.”

According to the Insurance Information Institute, property damage accounted for about 97% of insurance claims in 2021, and even with insurance policy prices rising, Hoyt said benefits continue to outweigh the costs. 

“If you just sort of ignore the whole thing, you might be lucky,” Hoyt said, “but frequently what we see is that people, when they are hit by a catastrophe, are shocked at how much their stuff is really worth.”

 

 

Michael Johnson is a journalism student at the University of Georgia

 

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