How to prepare for a renters insurance policy

A furnished apartment living room with wood flooring.

If you own stuff and live in an apartment, you want renters insurance. (CC BY-SA/Paul Holloway/Wikipedia)

If apartment living is your style, you’re going to want to invest in renters insurance. Much like homeowners insurance, this insurance for renters covers all of your possessions in the event of catastrophes like fire, theft or other loss. But you’ll have to take inventory before buying coverage. Here are some tips for taking stock of your possessions and getting the most from renters insurance.

Renters insurance tip No. 1 – Get your camera

The easiest way to prove what you own to an insurer is to provide photographic proof. Go through each room of your apartment and take digital shots. Video is great, too. First, go for a wide angle of the entire room, then focus in close-up on individual items. Doing this, you’ll notice just how much you actually own, which may spur some money-generating garage sale ideas. You’ll want to list everything on paper, too.

Be patient, for it will be a tedious process. Some renters insurance companies offer online tools to help you list everything, even breaking items down by room, category and item type. It gives a grand total automatically, so you don’t even have to do the addition yourself. Regardless of whether you make a paper or digital inventory, keep it it a safe, easy to access place.

Renters insurance tip No. 2 – Shop around

Some insurance policies will only provide fair market value on your lost or damaged items. What you want is a policy that functions on the principle of replacement value, that way you can buy new to replace what you lose. Just be sure that you provide replacement value to the insurer, rather than your guess at current fair market value. Check out online retailers like Amazon for pricing ideas. With items like a sofa that you may have had for a while, price it at the point a reasonably comparable sofa today would cost, and don’t go crazy.

Renters insurance tip No. 3 – Look at your clothing

This is an area too many people overlook when investing in insurance coverage. Open your closets and take a detailed inventory, noting brands. Then price-check online. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spent around $700 on clothing and related accessories in 2010. A significant number have at least $3,000 or more at home, and some wear suits that cost upward of $5,000 each. Pay attention to what you own, do research and don’t skimp on your estimates.

Renters insurance tip No. 4 – Protect the family jewels

Whether they’re family heirlooms that go back generations or your personal bling, jewelry pieces are definitely worth insuring, particularly when gold, diamonds and other precious stones are involved. A standard policy will have a limit for jewelry or artwork, although those limits generally will not apply if there is a total loss (fire, flood or hurricane). Limits apply in the event of theft, in most cases, but only if riders are written. In order to prove the value of your jewelry, art, musical or other expensive electronic equipment, have a certified appraiser provide you with documentation, as the insurer will no doubt wish to see it so that a rider can be set up for the policy.




Renters Insurance Wiki

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