From assuming someone else will cover you to thinking your possessions aren’t worth enough to protect, New Yorkers pass on renters insurance for several ill-considered reasons
New York is a renters’ state, and so is our most famous city. Forty-six percent of residents rent their home at the state level while The New York Times reported that 65 percent have a landlord in New York City. By that reckoning, the Big Apple has about 5.6 million residents who should be thinking about renters insurance.
Sadly, a recent article in the Insurance Journal highlighted how many renters aren’t taking insurance or the safety of themselves and their property seriously. Many tenants are engaging in lax security practices which leave their homes and possessions vulnerable. High percentages of renters are confused or unaware of how renters insurance works, while almost a third of them have never even thought about taking out a policy.
Here’s a reminder of why renters insurance should be among every tenant’s priorities:
Renters insurance can be very affordable
Insurance is often put off as an unwelcome expense for something that might never happen. The reality is that renters insurance is among the most affordable protections out there, since it can now cost as little as $9 to $11 per month, depending on the provider and other factors.
The total yearly expense does differ on average by location—for example, by borough in NYC (with Brooklyn being the most expensive and Queens the least)—but these payments can provide tens of thousands of dollars in protection with further coverage added at the policyholder’s discretion. Those deciding to stick with a standard policy should be aware of what’s covered and what isn’t.
Renters insurance covers a lot, but not everything
Let’s get the biggest myth out of the way: the landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover tenants or anything the tenant owns. It will only protect the structure and any possessions inside that belong to the landlord (such as if they furnished it or provided any other items). If anything happens to the tenants, their guests, their pets, or their possessions, that’s all uncovered unless they have renters insurance.
Even a standard policy can do a lot. It provides coverage in the event of theft, vandalism, and elemental perils like fire, lightning, extreme winds, and hail. One natural problem renters aren’t covered for is flooding. This is another problem New Yorkers are increasingly facing, so adding protection there is a good idea if it could affect you. Find out if you live in a FEMA-listed flood risk area and don’t assume it won’t happen.
Even when a property seems sturdy enough, many people have vehicles parked outside which are much more vulnerable and may contain valuable items. Rental policies extend to protect belongings which are lost or damaged when stored inside a vehicle.
Don’t think your possessions are worth enough to insure? There must be a few items like a TV, cell phone, entertainment system, or personal keepsakes which have value. We recommend creating an inventory of all of your possessions stored inside or out. This makes a renters insurance claim much easier to process and there are many apps available to make this easier.
Renters insurance can also help with additional living expenses if a tenant must leave the property for a while due to a covered loss, as well as with liability expenses such as if someone is injured while on the property. While this is helpful, this may not be enough to fully protect you since renters insurance is limited in how much it can pay out.
Put an umbrella over renters insurance
Adding umbrella insurance to a renters policy makes it stronger protection against the unforeseen. For example, anyone who visits your home in any capacity could bring a lawsuit if they’re injured, even though the space is rented. The average claim in a personal injury suit is more than $50,000 and 70 percent of those claims are won.
$50,000 is figure that can go much higher depending on the severity of the injury and the treatment required. Adding umbrella insurance will cost around $150 to $300 a year on top of a renters policy, but the combined coverage can protect policyholders for millions of dollars in personal liability.
Umbrella insurance can help with another liability for renters: being at the landlord’s mercy. Retaliatory evictions can and do occur when landlords push tenants out for reasons that don’t necessarily hold up in court. Eviction can mean paying to live somewhere else with all the connected expenses that may create until things are settled.
Lastly, umbrella coverage lives up to its name by sheltering more than the policyholder. If the rental property contains a family, a single policy held by any one of them can protect the group.
There are ways to make renters insurance even cheaper
When insurance starts at $9 a month it doesn’t get much cheaper than that, but policy providers typically reward tenants who take extra care or who are willing to pay more upfront or to give them extra business.
Precautionary measures like strong door locks and windows, fire alarms, and burglary alarms show a tenant minimizing risk to their person and property. Less risk means less chance of an insurer having to make a payout and it’s not unusual to see premiums lowered in those situations. Tenants willing to increase their deductible on their renters insurance may also see a rate reduction.
Another method is bundling different coverage types together with the same provider. For example, a renters policy combined with auto coverage from the same insurer can work out more cheaply month to month. Like all insurance, the cost to have it is much less than the potential expense of being without it.
Get in touch with the NICRIS team if you’re ready for renters insurance or to search for a better policy if you already have it.
NICRIS Insurance focuses on providing clients with the appropriate suite of products to protect them, their interests and their loved ones. If you need insurance advice or would like a free, personalized insurance review, just drop us a line.