Renters Insurance

“The best $90 I spent in my entire life!” Can you believe that it is renter’s insurance that prompts this exclamation?

I know that money is tight when you are in college, but if you choose to get your own apartment, either make sure that your personal belongings are covered by your parents homeowner/renter’s insurance or get your own. Here’s my story:

I was 25, living in my very first apartment (really, a rented condo), and it took about three months of nagging from an older sister before I finally got around to calling the insurance company to start my own renter’s insurance policy. Three weeks later, I get a call from a co-worker that was driving home saying that the radio announced a fire at the intersection where I live. I didn’t think it was the complex where I lived and I definitely didn’t think it was the building I lived in. The building I lived in burned down (okay, only the top floor was burned off, but they still had to demolish the building). It took 22 fire departments to put out this fire, and all the pets were saved, but not all of our belongings.

I can tell you that having renter’s insurance during that first week was a blessing. What did that $90 pay for? They thought for me that first week, as follows:

-They gave me $500 on the spot to go buy some clothes and necessities (Target was great!).

-They made sure I had a place to sleep immediately, but then explained how the insurance company would pay for any expenses above and beyond my normal expenses due to the fire. For example, if I’d been an owner instead of a renter, they would have paid for rent on a new apartment until the condo was rebuilt. (Since my lease was broken due to the fire, I didn’t need it. But now that I own a condo, I know the procedure.)

-They arranged for cleaners to come and take any salvageable fabric out of the apartment. They cleaned everything, including a special treatment to remove smoke smell from fabric (which can return in a few months if you use a regular washer/drier). Two weeks later, all my clothes were delivered to my new place. This alone cost over $1000.

-They arranged for movers to come and remove any salvageable furniture. They put everything in storage and then, once I had a new apartment, moved it to my new place. I didn’t even have to pay for moving! (And anyone who has paid a mover knows how much this can cost)

-They paid to have my laptop repaired. If I’d had a desktop, which aren’t sealed as well as laptops, they would have given me money towards a new computer. (Caution: There was some depreciation taken into account, so if I’d spent $1400 on the laptop, they might have only given me $800 towards a new one.)

In the weeks that followed, my renter’s insurance policy allowed me to be reimbursed for new furniture, a new mattress, new electronics, new makeup and underwear (I refused to wear the old stuff!), and replaced the one CD that didn’t survive (the fates don’t want me to won Bon Jovi’s New Jersey, but that is another story). They even paid the $100 library fine due to having several books and movies checked out at the time.

By my estimate, they spent at least $10,000 just on me, and my renter’s insurance claim was small in comparison to most in that situation. So yes, my three week old $90 renter’s insurance was the best purchase in my entire life.

Within a week of this fire, I had two friends in school (grad and law) who called relatives to ask for money for renter’s insurance.