Paycheck Chronicles

You Need Renter's Insurance

A new renter displays the key to her home. (Eduardo Martínez/FEMA)

If you have stuff, any stuff, and your stuff is not protected by a homeowner's insurance policy, you need renter's insurance. Thankfully, it is inexpensive and it covers a lot of things you've probably never considered.

But My Landlord Has Insurance

The most frequently misunderstood thing about renter's insurance is that your landlord's insurance doesn't cover your stuff, and if you live in the barracks or housing, the government or privatized company doesn't provide insurance for your possessions. A landlord's insurance covers the building itself, and the appliances inside the building.

What Could Happen?

It is easy to think that your things are perfectly safe. However, stuff happens. Even on base, things are stolen. Fires happen, as do floods, and windstorms. In addition, renter's insurance provides liability coverage in case someone slips on your front steps, or you accidentally leave the bathtub running and damage the house, or your dog bites someone walking down your street.

I Don't Have Anything of Value!

I'm not buying that excuse any which way. Do you have clothes? Uniforms? (I know that those winter jackets are not cheap.) A cell phone? Computer? Video Games? Furniture? Yup, you need insurance. What would you do if you came home from work tonight and everything you owned was gone? There is some stuff you would need to replace immediately, like underwear and socks and a toothbrush. How would you pay for it?

It Is Too Expensive

This is a common misconception. Renter's insurance is cheap. Heck, to insure my entire six person family's 15,000 pounds of stuff, we pay about $220 per year for our renter's insurance. Most people don't need as much coverage as we have, either, so your costs will probably be lower.

I Don't Have Time

Buying renter's insurance should not be time-consuming, especially if you already use an insurance company for other coverage like auto insurance. The hardest part is figuring out the value of the things you own. Once you can estimate the amount of coverage you will need, it should be about 15 minutes to set up coverage.

Renter's insurance should be one of those "just do it" items on everyone's list. It is cheap, easy, and extremely valuable. So just do it!

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