In a nutshell, renters insurance is pretty much like contents insurance and it is designed specifically for people who call a rented property home.
The owner of the rental is responsible for insuring the property itself — the foundation, roof, walls, fixtures, etc. As for the contents inside the rental, if you own said contents, then you are responsible for insuring them.
There are many good reasons to investigate the option of renters insurance — let’s have a look at a few of the key advantages.
There seems to be a myth among some renters that the landlord’s insurance will extend to the theft or destruction of the renter’s property. Let’s clear that up now: That is absolutely not the case.
If your belongings are damaged in a fire or stolen, renters insurance will cover you. While fire and theft are the bread and butter of most renters insurance policies, coverage will vary between insurers — some may cover you for water damage, other natural disasters, explosions or vandalism, as well.
Unfortunately, the Insurance Council of Australia has some bad news for renters. According to their research, 74 per cent of renters don’t have insurance (only 7 per cent of homeowners are without relevant insurance), but renters are twice as likely to suffer the ill effects of theft. So, there’s that.
If someone comes over to your place (be it for something boring — like to fix an appliance — or for something exciting — like a night of wine indulgence and viewing of The Bachelor) and they happen to injure themselves or you manage to injure them, you are liable for any costs that arise from their injury. Renters insurance will typically cover you for any legal liability up to a certain monetary limit, so you can have peace of mind that your over-served friend falling off the couch isn’t going to end up costing you some serious coin.
Although policies will vary between insurers, some providers will cover you for accidental damage. Such coverage is typically related to the damage of fittings or fixtures in the place that you are renting, whether it be you who inflicts the damage or that over-served friend we previously mentioned.
You might think that just because you don’t actually own the home you’re living in that your assets aren’t exactly plentiful. Well, chances are, you’re wrong about that. This is relevant for two reasons: 1. You’re actually wealthier than you think you are, and 2. Renters insurance just became an even more important option to consider.
If you’ve underestimated the value of your belongings, then you aren’t alone — apparently 2.5 million Australian rental households are right there with you.
Big-ticket items are easy to identify, things like laptops, iPads, jewellery and your furniture. But don’t forget the smaller stuff — your clothes, kitchen utensils and appliances, artwork, bed linens, DVDs, CDs, books. You might actually be surprised by the sheer volume of stuff you own.
Research shows that the average value of the contents owned by someone who moves straight out of their parents’ home and into a rental is $15,000. That’s a lot higher than one would estimate, so if you’ve been renting for quite some time, you could actually have tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff.
Sure, it might not be a totally inconsequential cost, but renters insurance is likely more affordable than you thought it would be.
Obviously, premiums will vary between insurers, but $20,000 worth of cover averages out to between $7 and $12 per week, depending on the insurer and the nature of coverage. We’re going to guess that’s a whole lot cheaper than your weekly wine budget.
No, we aren’t advocating either way. Only you can know whether the specifics of your situation — insurance affordability, quantity of valuables, how important said valuables are to you, likelihood of an insurance-related event, etc. — make renters insurance a worthwhile pursuit.
What, we are saying, however, is that you should certainly investigate the possibility. Do an inventory of your belongings and how valuable they are. How would you handle the destruction or theft of any or all of these belongings? How would such a loss affect you financially? How would insurance be of benefit to you in such a situation? Can you survive without it?
If the idea of renters insurance appeals to you, do some research on the types and nature of policies available. Make sure you get a few quotes from different insurers and, most importantly, make a decision that is right for you.