Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jan 18, 2022

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Renters insurance is important if you rent your own home. It protects you from the loss of your property through fire, theft, vandalism, or smoke damage as well as provides you with the personal liability coverage you may not have considered.

low cost home insuranceNo matter where you rent, you’re vulnerable to the conditions existing in the rental dwelling. Sometimes wiring and heating systems in rental dwellings and apartments are not kept to code as carefully as you would do yourself.

Then, neighbors are not necessarily as careful about fire prevention as you would like.

If you are a college student, however, the first thing you should do is ask your parents’ insurance agent to see if their homeowners coverage will extend to the place where you live.

The standard homeowners policy offers a certain percentage of the amount of the insurance they purchase on the contents of their house to be extended to contents of a dorm room or rental for a college student.

This coverage needs to be assessed carefully to make certain that the limits are high enough and perils extend to a student’s place of residence.

Be sure to use the FREE quote comparison tool at the top of this page to start shopping today.

How to Get a Renters Insurance Quote

If you are living on your own or with a separate family, you are probably living on a rather strict budget. Saving money on insurance premiums can help you reduce the hit to your budget. The best way to save money on insurance is to shop around for it.

Therefore, it’s time to learn about purchasing insurance, the steps, and what to examine as you look for insurance. This is one of those life-skills that theoretically we learn in school but never are quite addressed.

Choose an Insurance Company and an Agent

It helps to have an insurance agent to steer you through the varieties of insurance, insurance terms, and perils to be insured. There are three ways insurance is sold:

  • Exclusive or captive agents – These agents only represent the companies for whom they work.
  • Independent insurance agent – These agents represent several different companies and will be able to quote premiums for several companies.
  • Sales on the Internet, by mail, or by phone

About Agents and Companies

Both agents and companies must be licensed in your state to sell insurance. Part of the state’s purview is to oversee education, licensing, and rates for insurance companies – the state is supposed to oversee the insurance industry, and most take their job seriously.

Every state has an insurance commissioner who arranges for a website for consumers to contact and find out about companies and agents.

You can access that website by linking to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website.

Click on the name of your state to be linked to the proper location.

The state website can inform you about insurance in your state, licensing of insurance companies and agents, and give you comparisons among the companies writing insurance in your state. A great deal of information can be obtained from these websites.

Some states even have sample comparisons of insurance rates. It’s well worth a look to see the information.

Sources for Assessing an Insurance Company

costs of home insuranceConsult with friends, neighbors, and family to choose an insurance company. Their experience with insurance companies is valuable to you in making your decision.

Choose at least three companies for quotations so you can get a broad enough variety of companies to give reasonable quotes.

Your state’s insurance commissioner will be able to give you information both about the financial status of the companies you choose and the complaint ratios that each may have. There are other resources also, all of which have value to you:

Financial status is important to you because an insurance company that faces catastrophes is required to provide insurance for all the losses they’ve guaranteed.

Massive losses such as those that occurred during Hurricane Katrina can weaken the financial position of an insurance company and make them more cautious about settling claims.

The complaint ratios are kept yearly by the state to assist in setting rates as well as give an idea of the efficiency of the company.

Coverage Amounts and Perils

Renters insurance is sometimes called ‘Tenant’s Homeowners’ policy, which is a misnomer because the term ‘homeowners’ implies that you own the building. It is called this largely because renters insurance is the same type of coverage.

To determine amounts of coverage, plan to do an inventory of your contents. An inventory will deal with amounts of property, serial numbers, dates purchased, and a thorough itemization of the property.

By doing this you can find the value of the property in your home and prepare records for a loss, should one occur. So you will have to consider the following amounts:

  • Value of contents
  • Amount of liability coverage you need to protect you personally – this coverage is usually set at $100,000 to $300,000 depending upon your assessment of needs
  • Medical coverage – $1,000 to $5,000 is the usual. This pays for injury on your premises or injury caused by a member of your family

Each insurance company has a limit on individual items of around $1,000, so if you have jewelry or items worth more than that, get them appraised and schedule them under a separate portion of the policy.

Perils covered under the usual renters insurance policy are:

  • Theft, vandalism, and vehicular damage – not from your own vehicle, though
  • Fire, explosion, smoke
  • Windstorm, hail, sudden freezing, and failure of plumbing
  • Weight of ice and snow
  • Sudden overflow of appliances

Be aware, however, that flood and earthquake coverage cannot be purchased under the renters insurance policy. For flood insurance, go to FloodSmart; contact your insurance agent for earthquake insurance, but do not rely upon renters insurance for this coverage.

How Insurance Policies Are Rated

Rating is the process that goes on when insurance companies receive a request for a quotation. Now, this process is done by computers, but at one time individuals using the following information did the process:

  • Construction of the building – example: frame, brick, reinforced concrete
  • Type of roof – tile, slate, shake, or composite
  • Age of the building – and if the heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing systems have been brought up to code recently
  • Quality of the fire department – training, response times, placement of hydrants, and water pressure
  • Credit ratings can affect your rates because insurance data indicates that individuals with better credit ratings may have fewer losses
  • General location – rural areas tend to have higher insurance rates as do some urban areas

Assessing Insurance Quotations

You will receive quotations from insurance companies. Make your own checklist to be sure that you are getting comparable quotes. That way, if the premiums vary, you can be certain that the differences are not because the coverage varies.

Once you have decided, be sure that you contact the agent and request that they write the policy.

Money needs to be exchanged for the coverage to be applicable, so be certain to write a check to the agency or company for the insurance.

Read your policy when you get it to be sure you understand your duties as well as those of the insurance company. A wise consumer will then proceed to do a premium comparison again.

Be sure to enter your information below to start comparison shopping today.