You likely are aware of the benefits of insurance. Health insurance covers medical expenses, even routine preventative care. Automobile insurance helps you out when you are in a car wreck, and can also provide services like roadside assistance and rental car coverage.

Just as these types of insurance are there to help you when you get hurt or ding up your car, renter’s insurance can protect you all day long from a host of potential problems.

What is Renter’s Insurance?

Some people don’t think of renter’s insurance, because they believe that if their apartment building gets hit by a tree, for example, their landlord’s policy will cover damages. While the landlord would be covered for their losses, the policy will likely provide no coverage for tenants. This is one area in which a renter’s policy is invaluable.

A renter’s insurance policy covers you as a tenant of a property, and your belongings. Sometimes the coverage extends beyond your rental unit, like if someone were to steal something out of your car while it is parked outside. If you think that theft of personal property is covered as part of your auto insurance, you’d be sadly wrong. Auto policies cover damage to a car, but not theft of things you might leave behind. There are several other benefits of these policies.

Here’s all about renter’s insurance, why you need a policy, and how to get the best coverage:

1. Protect Yourself From Harm

Renter’s insurance first and foremost covers your person. Say you get hurt in an accident in or around your rental unit. Sure, personal injuries would likely be covered by your landlord’s property and liability insurance, but the reassurance that you have a policy to fall back on is priceless in this situation.

Let the insurance companies duke it out to see who has to pay your medical bills; with a renter’s policy, you know you won’t get stuck with the bill.

2. Protect Your Stuff

What about a bad rainstorm that causes a leaky roof that destroys your laptop? Rather than be out the $1,000 replacement cost, you might be covered, less your deductible.

Personal property is likely the main reason renters get an insurance policy. Your landlord’s policy covers the structural bones of a residence, but not its contents. Look around your apartment. You have a lot of stuff. Computers and electronics, jewelry, clothing and jewelry all add up.

Everyone owns different things, but renters own property with an average total value of $30,000.  If you lost it all due to theft, fire or some other unfortunate event, a renter’s policy could make you financially whole for these loses.

3. Protect Others

A renter’s insurance policy can also give you peace of mind that your guests will be covered if they suffer physical injury. There may be exclusions in your landlord’s policy that limit liability for those who are not tenants. Without a renter’s policy, you might become personally liable for injuries, another reason why a renter’s policy is a wise choice.

4. Fill Coverage Gaps and Other Benefits

Sometimes, disaster strikes but you luck out. You don’t get hurt, and your things don’t even get a scratch. But, maybe structural damage means your apartment is temporarily uninhabitable. Renter’s insurance provides temporary relocation benefits. If a tree fell into your living room, you don’t have to grin and bear with the hole in your roof. With renter’s insurance, you likely will have the cost of temporary hotel stays or other accommodations covered. That alone can help many renters to sleep well at night.

5. It’s Inexpensive

The biggest selling point for renter’s insurance is its cost. Homeowner’s insurance is pricey. That’s because homeowner’s insurance is more comprehensive, covering structural damage. Replacing a house is expensive, and your landlord already pays for coverage that protects the physical structure of your rental unit.

Renter’s insurance is cheap. For coverage that ranges from $30,000 to $50,000, annual premiums average $184. That’s only $15 a month. Or to put it in some down to earth perspective, renter’s insurance costs about the same each month as three lattes.

Make Sure You Have the Best Policy

While the low cost and comprehensive coverage of renter’s insurance make it a no-brainer for any tenant, there are some ways to make sure that you get the best possible policy. The amount of the deductible is one variable that affects cost and how benefits will be paid.

For example, with a $500 deductible, the $1,000 laptop that was stolen from your car would be net you a $500 check to partially cover a new computer. If you opted for a $1,000 deductible to save on monthly premiums, you’d be out of luck. Choosing your deductible depends on the coverage you anticipate.

Beyond deductible, you also should make sure that you have sufficient coverage for your things. The $30,000 personal property figure is just an estimate based on averages. You may own more especially if you own fine jewelry. It may make sense to discuss any fine art or other valuable items with your insurer to make sure you are adequately covered.

It’s also important to document what you own, especially if it is not listed on a rider to the policy. One easy way to create proof of your things is to take smartphone pictures. Of course, you should print out these photos and upload backups to the cloud.

Renter’s insurance may be the cheapest and easiest way to protect yourself from property loss and personal injury expenses as a renter. Many smart landlords require renter’s coverage as a way to ensure that tenants understand that they will likely not be covered under the landlord’s policy. So, think of the value of all your things, the price of peace of mind, and financial protection in the event of injury — are these worth the price of a few coffees each month?

Kevin Wheatley