Only a Third of Renters Have Insurance, Survey Shows

Renters insurance: ransacked home
Renters insurance: ransacked home

By Elisabeth Leamy

Most responsible people wouldn't think of driving a car without car insurance, but many of those same people rent a home without renters insurance. A new survey commissioned by found that only 34 percent of American renters have renters insurance. Granted, the survey was conducted by a company that wants people to have renters insurance, but I want you to have it, too!

Recently my friend Cindy -- last name withheld to protect the ignorant (I mean innocent!) -- was burglarized. Separated from her husband, Cindy has been renting a house for herself and her 9-year-old son. The thieves made off with thousands of dollars worth of Cindy's jewelry and her son's electronics -- even his allowance. The feeling of violation is bad enough, but Cindy has no recourse because she had no renter's insurance.

It's a crying shame (and she has cried a lot) because the average renters policy costs just $185 a year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Such a bargain for the peace of mind that all your worldly belongings are protected. So why don't more people get renters insurance? The survey found that 60 percent believed renters insurance must cost $250 a year or more and 21 percent guessed it would cost a painful $1,000 or more!

"Renter's insurance is a lot more affordable than most people think," said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst for "Most renters don't realize that their landlord's insurance usually only covers the structure and not the renter's belongings."

That's right, your landlord's insurance is dead to you. No use at all. And yet for $15 a month or so, renters can be protected from theft, fire, water damage and more. Many renters' policies even include replacement housing if you have to live somewhere else while your place is fixed. As with homeowners insurance policies, flood and earthquake coverage are not included. And you'll have to pay extra to insure valuables like pricey jewelry and expensive electronics.

If this is a wake-up call to you or someone you know, here are the steps to take:

1. Shop around for a renter's insurance policy. Prices do vary from one company to another.

2. Purchase car insurance and renters insurance from the same company and you could get a discount.

3. Be generous when you calculate the value of your belongings. Renter's insurance is so inexpensive that it's better to have too much than not enough.

4. Ask the insurance agent whether you need extra coverage, called a "rider" for jewelry, electronics or other valuables.

5. Figure out if you also need flood or earthquake insurance, based on where you live.

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