Renters Insurance
February 16, 2005 1:16 PM   Subscribe

What's the best (cheapest) way to handle renters insurance?
posted by cmonkey to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My roommates and I have been kicking around the idea of getting renters insurance, as our house has caught fire before and is in a high crime neighbourhood.

Should we have one person get a policy and list all of our stuff under their name? Will we pay more if we list our names separately? Should we all just get individual policies?

Sorry if this is a glaringly stupid question, insurance confuses me
posted by cmonkey at 1:17 PM on February 16, 2005

Contact your auto insurer. You will often get a package discount for adding a homeowners/renters policy.

Don't quote me on this, but I believe that one residence is covered at a time, and you and your roommates are added collectively to a single policy. It's like the rent - they don't care who pays, as long as someone is held responsible.

Good on you for getting coverage, though.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:21 PM on February 16, 2005

Contact your auto insurer. You will often get a package discount for adding a homeowners/renters policy.

I forgot to add that none of us have auto insurance, so it would be a stand alone policy.
posted by cmonkey at 1:27 PM on February 16, 2005

You can check out Statefarm and Nationwide and whoever. Many of them let you do calcuations for renter's insurance. It may also be worth, once you get a general idea of rates, to go to a real location and talk to an agent. I've found Statefarm to be a pretty reliable company (after dealing with one agent for renter's and a different one for auto--so two whole data points). Going to a real agent in terms of auto insurance ended up saving me about $200 a year over anything I was able to find online.
posted by skynxnex at 1:35 PM on February 16, 2005

Also, real agents are more likely to be "creative" in filling out the application, in order to get your business.
posted by smackfu at 1:39 PM on February 16, 2005

If any of you are kids of military folks, USAA has renters insurance that is insanely cheap if you already have car insurance, but I bet it's not terribly bad otherwise also
posted by jessamyn at 2:09 PM on February 16, 2005

Since renter's insurance covers the stuff, and not the apartment, I wouldn't consider a pooled policy. You may be co-renting the apartment, but you do not co-own your stuff. What happens if the guy with the policy moves out two months from now, or gets slack with the payment? What happens if you get the policy in your name and your bozo roommate gives his speakers to someone who breaks it and wants you to declare them stolen (and thus risk your insurance history)? It's not wise to share financial matters with people you do not intend to spend the rest of your life with. The good news is renter's insurance really is inexpensive, and, since you're already nervous, if you think you have more than about $5000 of your own stuff in your closet and around the apartment, it's worth it by yourself.
posted by dness2 at 2:41 PM on February 16, 2005

I go through Allstate for the auto insurance discount package. I pay about $220 per year and get about $25000 in coverage. I'm not sure how much of a discount it gives me on my auto insurance, but it sounds like that's moot for you. Anyway, I once had some valuables stolen out of my car and they didn't even bat an eye before writing the check.

I'd recommend shopping around, of course. But it seems that, if you trust your friends, one policy would cover you as a household. It seems that three friends*$200=$600 and $75000 in coverage, which is a bit much. So it might be worth the $400/yr savings to extend a bit of trust and make a deal as a household.
posted by Jonasio at 3:11 PM on February 16, 2005

I've had State Farm for over twenty years with only minor problems that were always cleared up by my agent, and pretty decent rates (even after my son totaled a car a month after getting his license). I've had the same agent for something like 18 years. One data point that backs up skynxnex's recommendation for going with one of the old-time, traditional companies.
posted by Doohickie at 7:19 PM on February 16, 2005

Yeah, don't share the renter's insurance. It's not worth the risk or the hassle. It really is cheap, and you don't have to rely on your roommates to protect your stuff.
posted by MrZero at 7:24 PM on February 16, 2005

I've had insurance through Travelers for years, and I'm very happy with them. Good, friendly, personal customer service.

My roommate and I had a joint policy, but we knew we were a long-term arrangement -- it would be a bit of a pain if people were dropping on and off the policy. Ask the rep what the best option is for your particular situation regarding roommates -- they'll give you good advice. It doesn't cost any more to have multiple names since the insurance covers up to a certain dollar amount, no matter whose stuff it is. I've never seen them try to jack up the amount of coverage to get a higher premium out of you or anything shady like that.

Example: we have $35,000 personal property coverage. It cost us about $22/month. The policy includes stuff (for no extra cost) like medical payments to others and property damage. It extends to your possessions while you are transporting them in your car. When you will hear of others' misfortune, you will start spreading the rental insurance gospel. Just like I'm doing now.
posted by desuetude at 8:39 AM on February 17, 2005

Slightly off-point: consider a policy with the largest deductible that you're comfortable with. For example, increasing the deductible from $250 to $500 would probably save you $60 to $80 per year. Also, as discussed in another thread (on house insurance), you don't want to file small-dollar claims anyway, in general, because your rates go up and you may have more problems getting insurance in the future. Save your insurance claims for when you have large losses, if you can.

Also, a lot of renters insurance policies can be bundled with liability insurance, as mentioned in the prior post, which is generally pretty cheap. So (for example) for another $100 per year you might be able to get $50,000 of liability insurance (with a certain deductible).
posted by WestCoaster at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2005

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