2006-07-28 / Community

Pheffer: Renters Insurance Important

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer wants area renters to be informed of the importance of renter's insurance and the many benefits it has to offer.

Many people believe that renters insurance is unnecessary and over-priced. However, it covers loss of the insured's personal property, liability, and guest medical coverage at an average cost of $150 to $200 per year. Being more informed about renters insurance will ensure that you receive all applicable discounts and that your possessions are properly protected if you decide to purchase such insurance.

"Many renters wrongly assume that their landlord's policy will cover them in the event of a loss, but generally, a landlord's policy will only cover damage to the building, leaving the tenant's possessions uncovered. Renters insurance covers the personal property of the insured, usually up to a limit that is determined by the policy holder or the insurance company, less the deductible," said Pheffer.

Not only does renters insurance cover personal property losses that occur at the policyholder's residence, it covers personal property losses all over the world. This means that if a suitcase is lost or if personal property is stolen from your car, you'll probably be covered. It is very important to choose a coverage limit that will adequately protect your personal property. To determine how much coverage you need, make an inventory of your possessions and their value. Many insurance companies offer checklists to aid you in this task.

It is important to be aware that certain items are covered under a renters policy, but with limitations. These items include, but are not limited to jewelry, furs, cameras, musical instruments, and hand or power tools that are used for business purposes. These items can be fully insured by purchasing scheduled property coverage. Be sure to ask your agent about any special items that you may have to make sure that they are properly insured.

Renters insurance also includes guest medical coverage, which provides protection for the insured's guests, who are accidentally injured while on the insured's property as a result of a covered loss.

Many renters' insurance policies also include additional living expenses coverage, which pays the reasonable increase in living expenses necessary to maintain your normal standard of living when a direct physical, covered loss makes your residence premises uninhabitable. These expenses may include payments for the additional costs of a place to stay, food and other increased living expenses.

The insurance discounts offered differ by company, so be sure to check with your agent to find out what discounts each company you are considering offers. Many companies offer discounts for security features such as dead bolt locks and security systems, as well as for safety features such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.

You can also save money by changing your deductible, the amount that you pay when making a claim on your renter's policy. The higher your deductible is, the cheaper your premiums will be. However, be sure that when you choose a deductible, you choose an amount that will not impose financial hardship in the event that you do have a loss.

"It is very important that you understand what your renters policy covers. Under a renters policy, your possessions are covered against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, and water damage that results from the failure of plumbing or appliances. There are certain perils that renters policies do not cover in New York, such as earthquakes and floods. In order to be covered against either of these perils, a separate policy must be purchased," said Pheffer.

As with most things, you can often save money by shopping around since premiums often vary greatly by company. You may wish to ask friends and family for referrals. To learn more about renters insurance, consider visiting the Insurance Information Institute's website at www.iii.org .

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