If you are a renter, or considering renting an apartment, you might think that your landlord is responsible for loss or damage to your personal property, but most lease agreements specifically exclude personal property coverage. A landlord will often purchase insurance for the unit or building which covers damage to the walls, appliances, and structure, but landlords rarely accept responsibility for your property. Even more importantly, most standard lease agreements include a ‘hold harmless agreement’ which states that the renter is solely responsible for any liability, including property damage or bodily injury to others, while occupying the building or apartment. Lease agreements are legal contracts, and defer an enormous amount of responsibility and financial burden to the renter, which is one very important reason to purchase renters insurance.
A renters insurance policy typically covers the policy holder for loss or damage to personal property as a result of lightning, riot, aircraft, explosion, vandalism, smoke, theft, windstorm or hail, falling objects,
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volcanic eruption, snow, sleet, and weight of ice. Many policies will cover personal property loss or damage worldwide, meaning personal items are not only covered in your apartment, but also while in your vehicle, when you are traveling, or moving from one apartment to another. Typical items insured on a renters policy include clothing, furniture, cookware, and appliances. Other more valuable or rare items may need to be specifically listed on your policy, and would require proof of purchase or a professional appraisal to insure these items for the proper value. Otherwise, there is typically a low limit of coverage for items such as money, precious metals and stones, jewelry, watches, pairs and sets, antiques, artwork, watercraft, trailers, furs, firearms, media, business property, cameras, computers, and other types of property depending on the policy terms and conditions. If an invoice for such items is not available, insurance companies typically require an updated appraisal every three years.
A renters insurance policy also provides coverage for your personal liability, if you are sued for negligence resulting in property damage or bodily injury to someone else. You could be held legally and financially liable if someone is hurt or suffers a loss in or around your leased property. While this coverage is not very expensive, and often automatically included on a renters policy, personal liability may be your largest financial exposure. If someone decides to sue you, can you afford the legal expenses, including defense costs, attorney’s fees, court charges, and damages? Your personal outlay could amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you are held liable, and can’t afford to pay the expenses or damages, many state or federal courts will force you to pay with future unearned income. A typical renters policy can provide $500,000-$1,000,000 in personal liability coverage for about $50-$100/year.
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Most renters insurance policies cost on average $15-$25/month and provide $500,000-$1,000,000 in personal liability coverage and about $30,000-$50,000 in personal property coverage. Higher limits can be purchased, and several endorsements are available to enhance coverage beyond what a standard renters insurance policy covers. You may need a special endorsement for instance if you have a dog, or if you want to include your roommate for coverage, or if you need to include valuable items on your policy. Boynton Insurance Group has renters insurance specialists who will work with you to customize your very own renters policy.