post off: do you have renter’s insurance?


As I write this, the ceiling in my micro-bedroom is fixing to fall in on my bed (eek!) due to some sudden water damage and it got me thinking about renter’s insurance. We rented an apartment in a very old building, so for me, buying insurance was as much about planning for the inevitable as it was for the unexpected, but the debate over its value seems to rage on among my peers. Some friends have used it to replace big ticket items after break-ins and thus sing its praises, and others argue that it’s just a scam, and that the odds that one will ever need it are slim. We entertained a similar debate on pet insuranceand the verdict seemed to favor putting money in savings over purchasing a policy. In my case, I paid less for my policy than it will cost to replace my bed if reality does come crashing down, so the gamble may be worth it, but tell me, do you have renter’s insurance? — Sarah C.

From our partners

We have renters insurance. Our apartment complex wouldn’t let us rent or move in without it. I’ve yet to determine why that is since the apartments are relatively new, and tucked away in a safe, undisturbed location. On the whole, it’s annoying, but I feel a tiny bit safer that if we were to experience a break-in, things could be replaced.


Yes, and in fact it is required by my lease. Insurance is not about gaming the overall risk that something bad will happen, it’s about lowering your cost of recovery by sharing that risk with a large pool of others. If the ceiling collapsed and destroyed all of your furniture, clothes, and electronics (or if your building burned down), replacing all that stuff could be financially devastating.

Renter’s insurance is cheap. I pay about $120 a year for $50,000 in replacement-cost coverage with a $500 deductible.

I’ve had renter’s insurance ever since I bought my first laptop, 15 or so years ago. And lo and behold, I was robbed in September – my MacBook Pro and my cell phone were taken. My Allstate insurance was an absolute lifesaver, I had a check in my hand 10 days later. I’ll never be without it.


An HO4 policy, or Renter’s Insurance, doesn’t just cover your belongings it also covers personal liabilities such as injury to another person or damage to another person’s property.

Your dog may bite a neighbor, a visitor to your home might slip and fall, your bathtub overflows in the neighbors apartment, etc.

Recently there was a apartment fire in my area, 15 units were damages by smoke and water and caused over $100,000 in damages. The grease fire completely destroyed one family apartment, but on top of that, they are most likely liable for ALL of the damages.

i do have renter’s insurance and i’m constantly harping on every renter i know to get it. it’s crazy inexpensive but for it to really be useful you have to buy a policy with a low deductible, i recommend $100. my bike was stolen from a different location (not at home) and they replaced it. lost my camera, they replaced it. i spent a little bit extra (few dollars a month) for coverage on my laptop and camera equipment that will replace it even if i am just clumsy and just drop it or spill water on it. i also spent a tiny bit extra to get the same kind of of coverage for my art collection. it has been very useful. it also helps if you have a nanny or babysitters or anyone is doing work in your home, if they hurt themselves and want to sue you, you’re covered. the whole policy costs me about $300 a year, so worth it.

Absolutely – I’ve had renter’s insurance since getting my first apartment at the age of 19. It has always been very very inexpensive – it was dirt cheap when I first started out, owning very little stuff. Now that our household has expanded and we’ve acquired more things/moved to a new city, it has increased a bit but is still very reasonable (around $18/month). We’ve never had to use it, thank goodness, but with the amount of break-ins in my neighborhood I’m glad we have it. We also get a multi-line discount because our car insurance is through the same carrier. Insurance may feel like a scam sometimes, but “better to be safe than cynical.” And hopefully your landlord will fix that ceiling issue!

I own now, but I started getting renter’s insurance after one of my editors came into work one day and said “well, there was a fire on our roof last night!” and it turned out that his renter’s insurance:
-Cleaned or replaced everything they owned that was smoke or water damage (meaning everything)
-Paid for their hotel while they were looking for a new place
-Covered their broker’s fee and moving costs into a new apartment

I literally called a broker that day. It was about $300 a YEAR: TOTALLY worth it just in case.


Absolutely I have it. No, I haven’t needed to use it. Like most insurance products, I hope to never need to file a claim and thus get money back from the insurer, but that doesn’t mean it’s a scam or wasted money. I don’t understand that mindset at all — maybe it’s because so many health insurance plans pay for maintenance-type visits and prescriptions that people start thinking of insurance based on whether they’ll use it?


Yup. I did when I rented. I own now. Shop around for policies, it shouldn’t be very expensive at all. I am with USAA, who I cannot recommend enough, and as an add-on to my car insurance I had with them it was under a hundred dollars a year. Well worth it with computer equipment and all.

However, make a realistic assessment of replacement costs so you get the right amount of insurance.


I’ve had renter’s insurance for 13 years. I’ve never had to use it, but I’ve never used my car insurance either. I pay 17 bucks a month and have a replacement policy for my belongings and I’m insured out the wazoo in case I damage my rental or someone is injured here.

My husband and I have moved cross-country several times in the last 9 years, and our insurance covered all of our stuff in transit and storage as well. I didn’t have to spring for the pricey policies through the movers.

We own now, but when I used to rent I had renters insurance and it was a lifesaver when one of my roommates had her car broken into. The nominal fee we paid on the renter’s insurance every month covered all the stuff that was in her car. Totally worth it!

We have renters’ insurance — it’s cheap, and it covers catastrophic things that we couldn’t possibly save enough money to pay for ourselves.

FWIW, this is (thankfully) relatively rare, but I’ve been paying about $35/month for pet insurance for 3 years, and two months ago they paid a $10,000 ER/ICU bill. I am SO thankful that I had the policy.

We insisted that our kids have renters insurance once they graduated college and were on their own. Too many big ticket items including furniture, electronics, even clothes, shoes, and jewelry can cost a fortune to replace. At State Farm we got my daughter renters insurance for less than $200 a year for $25K in goods and for an extra $25 per year she got $200K worth of ID theft coverage. You can’t control potential idiot neighbors or negligent landlords. Hers even covers earthquake damage, vital in LA. For us its worth the peace of mind :)


LeeLee, who’s your car insurance with?

I have renter’s insurance and driver’s insurance (no car). The renter’s insurance is supercheap and well worth the security. The driver’s insurance is not so cheap but still cheaper than the rental agency insurance prices.


ellobie – All of our insurance is on one policy through USAA. To use USAA, you have to been in the military or a military dependent at some time. We do have a car, but have never filed a claim (knocks furiously on wood.)

Sarah C.

Wow – this is very interesting – I’m very happy I bought my policy, but I was wondering about it because some friends insisted it was a scam, and said they probably wouldn’t need it. I think there’s also a misconception that if you live in a new or luxury apartment building or home, you don’t need it because you probably won’t have to deal with the issues that plague older homes, but I agree with kimberj – you can’t control the people around you that have bearing on your place! You may not have leaky radiators weakening your ceiling in a new high-rise apartment building, but you will have 200 stoves waiting to be left unattended!

I love living in old buildings with character, so having renter’s insurance is half about being prepared for the snafus that come along with it and half simply for my piece of mind, which in this case, comes cheap =)


Yeah, of course. I don’t get how people could think it is a scam, at least from a reputable insurance company. I mean, even if you don’t have much stuff, if you lost it and had to replace it ALL–all your shoes, all your clothes, all your dishes, all your books, not to mention the bigger-ticket items–it would be overwhewlmingly costly. In my experience, renter’s insurance is not that expensive, so the same amount put in savings would not replace much.


I do not have renters insurance and I have lived in my NYC apartment for 14 years. I live on the top floor of an older building and luck has been on my side – no break-ins and one major rooftop flood. My landlord paid for everything that was damaged in the food and nothing of value was destroyed. Over the years I have looked into renter’s insurance but never followed through. Reading all the comments is enlightening and may look at renter’s insurance again.

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