Shop for renter’s insurance? Isn’t it all pretty much the same?
Although this is a commonly held belief, renter’s insurance policies and the customer service which goes along with them can actually vary quite a bit. Here are three key elements to consider when shopping for renter’s insurance.
Make sure to find out specifically the types of losses that your policy will cover and whether there are any special limits or deductibles for certain types of losses or property. For example, although most policies list “wind” and “water” as covered perils, flood or hurricane damage in certain coastal areas is often excluded. Also, earthquake damage in areas near a known fault-line or water damage that results from a failed sump pump may not be included in the basic policy but can sometimes be purchased for an additional premium.
Also, check to see if there are any limits on how much your policy pays for special types of property. For instance, computers or other equipment used in a home-based business may be subject to special limitations along with business inventory or samples.
What’s the Cost?
Price is a major concern for most customers but you may want to consider more than just the bottom line. Be sure to ask about available discounts for having multiple policies with the same company. Renter’s and auto insurance discounts are the most common, although some companies will stack discounts based on the number of products purchased. Also, ask about discounts for improvements that you or your landlord may have made to your rented home or apartment. Things like fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, burglar alarms, hurricane resistant windows or hail resistant roof shingles can often shave dollars from your insurance premiums.
Also be aware that some companies may use credit-based insurance scoring models to price your policy. In these cases you may want to request a free copy of your credit report for review. Cleaning up any errors, late payments or delinquent accounts before you apply for insurance can help you save money as well.
How’s the Service?
Finally, low cost insurance is no bargain if there is no one available to help you if you have a question or need to file a claim. Be sure to ask about the claim reporting process. Does the company have a 24-hour hotline for questions and reporting claims or are you limited to an agent or broker’s normal business hours? Can you pay your premium, purchase or cancel coverage or ask questions via the Internet? Does the company accept credit and/or debit cards? Do they offer flexible payment plans? To find out how satisfied other customers have been with an insurer’s service you can check out complaint ratios for most insurance companies on the Department of Insurance website for your particular state.
By considering these three key elements before purchasing renter’s insurance you can be secure in knowing that you and your personal possessions are well protected.