RICHMOND — People who residentially rent a home, apartment or condo may ask whether they need renters insurance. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginia renters to consider whether they can afford not to have it.
Even if you do not own the place you call home, you still have personal property and possible liability exposures that need insurance protection. These items typically are not covered under the landlord or property management company’s insurance policy. “Ask yourself whether you can afford to replace your belongings if they are damaged or stolen, or pay expenses for someone who is injured at your residence because of negligence,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White.
Most renters insurance policies provide two basic types of coverage: personal property and liability. Personal property coverage pays to repair or replace your personal belongings such as furniture, clothing, electronics and appliances in the event they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. Liability coverage protects you when an accident occurs for which you are legally liable – such as if someone slips and falls in your home or apartment and is injured, or if you accidentally start a fire that damages a neighbor’s property.
Keep in mind important options when buying renters insurance. Most renters insurance policies provide coverage for the actual cash value of your property. This means the policy only pays the depreciated value of the property at the time of loss. If, however, you buy replacement cost coverage, the company will pay what it will cost to replace the item without deducting for depreciation.
In some cases, renters insurance can protect your possessions outside of your home, including items that are stolen from your car or damaged while not on your property. Renters insurance also includes loss of use coverage which will pay additional living expenses if fire, water damage or other covered losses render your home or apartment uninhabitable. Additional coverage may be needed in other circumstances, such as if you conduct business on the premises, have expensive items such as jewelry or fine art, or want protection against water and sewer backup.
The Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians to shop around for renters insurance and compare prices and terms. Know the extent of the insurance coverage and the circumstances under which applies. Understand deductibles – the amount you are responsible for paying in the event of a property loss – and exclusions. Your insurance agent or company can help you determine how much coverage you need. Ask about multi-policy and other discounts for such features as fire and burglar alarms, sprinkler systems and deadbolts on exterior doors.
Whether you own or rent your home, the Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians to create an inventory of their personal property including photographs, videotapes and serial numbers. This inventory can speed the claims process in the event of property damage or loss. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ free myHOME Scr.APP.book downloadable app – available for Android devices – lets you quickly photograph and capture descriptions of your possessions room by room and store your inventory electronically for safekeeping. The Bureau of Insurance offers free consumer guides on a variety of insurance-related topics including renters insurance. Its specially trained staff can answer many of your insurance questions. To learn more about renters insurance, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9185 or visit https://www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/pubs/va_rent.pdf.