What Home Means To You: A Millennial Guide to Renters Insurance
Where do you call home?
Hopefully, The Pioneer is where you’d call home! (We know we do!)
In all seriousness, what is a home, and what makes a home?
What do you think of when you hear that word? After all,
Home is where the heart is,
...as the saying goes. So, whoever you ask, you’ll hear a different answer.
For most, the term home provokes a special notion in one’s mind -- rousing a personal and unique memory. Traditionally speaking, when we talk about a home, it’s a place where we live.
We like to think of it like this:
You can own a house, and you can rent an apartment, but, you live in a home.
Whether home to you is your childhood or family abode, the city you grew up in, or where you reside right now, home is (almost always) technically and symbolically representing a few common things to most people:
Familiarity, comfort, and above all, safety.
...What makes a home?
Well, your home, in many ways, is an extension of you.
Therefore, home is, in all reality, where you make it -- Meaning, you can create your home anywhere (within reason, of course). Whether you rent, or own the very roof over your head that serves as the foundation for your home, you’re also making an investment.
You’re investing in your safety, your comfort, your familiarity.
You’re investing in YOU.
Protecting your investments, is important, of course. Leading us to our next point, (and allow us to state the obvious...)
Protecting yourself is important, too.
Now, if only there were an easier way to guard your humble abode, your stuff, and yourself, from potential risks that pose any tenant.
Those risks might be things like fire, theft, even vandalism -- just to name a few direct perils that can really be tough to spring back from on your own. Well, good news, journeyer. We have your solution!
For the sake of brevity, we'll just tell you straight up:
The easiest way to protect yourself, and your pad, is to purchase homeowners insurance.
We know, we know, you rent! So why even purchase “homeowners” insurance?
We’ll explain, and we’ll try to keep it simple as to why this could be the best thing you could do for yourself, and your stuff.
Let’s face it: Everyone owns some kind of property, even if it’s not a dwelling-type of property or land, right? Whether it’s the car they drive, or the clothes they wear, the acoustic guitar they play to serenade folks at open mic night, or the phone they're staring at, like, all the time (I was just checking the weather for tomorrow, give me a break!)
Even if you don't have any of that stuff, in particular, you still would like to protect some of it, surely. The term “property” itself, can be defined as being that of a possession, something that someone owns. A belonging, if you will.
You own property as well, in this case -- but for the sake of confusion, we’ll just call them belongings -- like a computer, or a television, or your engagement ring, or those drapes your Mom bought you that don’t really tie the room together all that well (but you appreciate the thought!)
By the way, how’s that reusable grocery store tote bag collection coming?
But I digress…Even if you KonMari’d to the next level and downsized considerably, you probably own some stuff worth protecting, some things you’d really hate to lose.
Those things, the belongings, are your personal property, and are important to protect too. Essential to establishing a home, we think, is a personal touch, and so we think of personal property as a vital instrument to the creation and establishment of your home.
When you live in a property, and you own personal property, (but maybe not necessarily the roof and the walls surrounding it), how do you protect what matters most to you?
You may think that just because you don’t necessarily own the four walls of the property you call home, that you’re not a homeowner -- so, what’s there to insure? Why would we benefit from a homeowners policy of any kind? It’s true that apartment complexes, housing, multi-unit property of most kinds and almost any kind of space available to rent, are typically insured by the owner and landlord through insurance policies of their own. So, you might think that you’re in the clear.
Well, we don’t want to scare you or anything, but it’s unfortunately not that simple. IRMI, The International Risk Management Institute, summarizes this best in their article about the misconceptions about tenants insurance.
For instance, did you know that your landlord's policies protect the owner, and the property you live in -- but, not you, or your personal property?
Bottom line: Much like driving a car without auto insurance, you’re at risk if you rent without renters insurance. And accidents happen.
Class is in session!
Renters insurance policies, sometimes classically referred to as tenant policies, or an HO-4 Contents Broad Form in insurance lingo, are available to anyone who rents their living space. There are a few essential components to most renters policies. They're designed to cover contents, for the most part, but they can work for a renter in more ways than just protecting your stuff!
Derivative of your average homeowners policy form, its primary job is covering contents of your premises, but also carrying some of the same benefits and coverages available in a standard homeowners policy. Since you don't own the building, you don't insure that. Everything else in your living space is yours to protect, however. You too.
Vandalism, theft and fire, like we mentioned before, are some of the big “perils”, or dangers, that can affect your personal property. Basically, something that creates a loss. Sometimes, you can even ask for replacement cost coverage on personal property, meaning you'd get what you paid for (just keep that receipt!)
Renters insurance policies are designed to diminish the stress and frustration that a tenant may face during a loss caused by a peril, and can come in handy if you're looking to replace property, and also protect you in the event you're liable for a loss.
Side note: Our friends at Northeast Insurance Solutions recommend creating a home inventory master list of your belongings -- there’s many ways to do this, but give Sortly a try if you'd like a handy app. Or, use this free printable checklist!
Another big offering from a renters policy, is liability coverage. Liability coverage is just as important and is designed to be available to the renter, or the insured, in the event that the renter is liable, or responsible, for damages to another individual, or their property. Or even the property they are renting, for one.
Last, but not least, you can protect yourself even further with a renters insurance policy, thanks to the “additional living expenses” coverage, built right in. Say your home has suffered a loss, like fire, and is in need of repair. In the meantime, you can't stay there.
This coverage actually pays for the additional costs you might incur during this period while you're inconvenienced, such as lodging (hotel stays), and even food or gas for the extra miles you're commuting. Up to the limits available, and within reason, of course, so you can't exactly treat yourself to a stay at the Palazzo Versace (I mean, if you really wanted to, go for it, but we doubt your agent would appreciate that bill, and you'd likely be out a small fortune) We're not buzzkills or anything here, though. May we recommend our neighbors at The Envision? Better check with your agent or claims representative to see what they recommend, too.
In addition to all of this, you can ask about getting all kinds of supplementary coverage, like personal injury or certain extra protections that may be included, or low-cost, depending on the company or packages offered.
Though usually included in most policies, loss assessment is considered something important to ask about in terms of what your limits are, as it will pay for a professional to assess the damage caused by a loss -- and this can be costly if the coverage limit isn't sufficient.
We can go on forever about how vital renters policies, and the benefits, can be to your lifestyle. Now that you’ve seen all the benefits they have to offer, you might feel tempted to review your policy with your agent -- or see about acquiring one for yourself! It might be the best thing you do all day. Three cheers for adulting!
Either way, protecting yourself, and your home, is easier than ever, and more important than ever.