insure my rental?
November 23, 2010 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Renter's insurance in DC: How do I do this?

I live in a house in DC-proper with three other people. We're all on the lease and it's all on the up-and-up. We're looking to get renter's insurance and are a bit confused on what we need, since not a single one of us has every done this before. Can you walk me through it?

So far, we've called around a bit and found that policies only allow 2 people on each plan, so we can't get a single plan for the house (i.e. all four of us). Would it be in our best interest to get two different plans from a single provider? Or are there providers that allow four people on the same plan?

Also, does anyone have any recommendations for insurance companies that do renter's insurance? This question has answers that suggested Safeco and Erie, but that was two years ago and tangential to the actual question. Are those still good? Does it actually matter?

Will this insurance actually cover my possessions if they get damaged/stolen (computers, bicycles)? Is there anything else that I need to know about this?
posted by three bear minimum to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Your landlord should have insurance on the property to cover damage to the property from fire, weather, and the like as well as his liability that might occur from injuries on the property. But his property insurance probably doesn't extend to your own belongings or to your own liability. Renter's insurance will typically cover damage to or loss of your property from things like fire, theft, etc., as well as liability for accidents/injuries that occur in your home.

I had renter's insurance in DC for years until I bought my condo, however I always lived alone so never had to worry about getting a common policy. I would think the best bet is for each of you to get your own policy to cover your own possessions & liability, because roommate turnover could be frequent enough (especially in a town with as much transience as DC) that you don't want to have to get a new policy every few months.

Pretty much any insurance company is going to provide renter's insurance, including all the big names (State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, GEICO, etc etc). I'd shop around and get quotes from a few of them. I wound up going with the same company that provided my auto-insurance because I got a discount for having multiple policies with the same insurer. It was relatively cheap -- worked out to a few bucks a month.
posted by gritter at 4:00 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wouldn't recommend putting two people on a plan, unless they're married or similarly committed. Otherwise you'll have to fight over who gets what money if you ever need to use the insurance. You should each get your own policies for your own stuff.
posted by amro at 4:01 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have a car, sometimes your car insurance can also provide renter's insurance. I've usually looked at it like auto insurance, that it protects you and your posessions and not the place itself. So the two-person limit is, I think, for a couple, though getting two two-person policies should be just fine.

Allstate is one fairly normal insurance company that offers it and also has a sort of FAQ that you can click around and get some basic questions answered. I use USAA, they are a company that provides banking and insurance for people who have immediate family members in the military [I lucked into it via an ex-husband] but if someone's eligible, I have had good experiences with them, they have a nice website and their rates are competitive. My policy is just for me [and I have car insurance through them as well] and I pay about six bucks a month. I'd pay about twice that before all the discounts. This gets me:

Personal Belongings (Includes Replacement Cost) $50,500
Personal Liability - Each Occurrence $100,000
Medical Payments to Others $5,000

The Allstate page will explain more about what those things mean. Often you have to get extra coverage for big ticket items like computers. Not sure about bicycle stuff, but it's an easy question for an agent to answer.
posted by jessamyn at 4:03 PM on November 23, 2010

I use State Farm in DC, and yeah, works out to a few bucks a month if I remember correctly.
posted by inigo2 at 4:25 PM on November 23, 2010

You should almost definitely each get your own renters insurance. This is something insurance companies know how to do - talk to an agent (if any of you have a car, your car insurance company will almost certainly provide renters insurance as well). I have lived in various roommate situations where one or all of the roommates had renters insurance, and we always did it separately.
posted by mskyle at 4:33 PM on November 23, 2010

Call an insurance company, explain your situation exactly as you did here (be honest -- your rates aren't going to be expensive).

I use Allstate, who offer a 15% discount for people who combine their renter's and auto insurance policy. Coincidentally, my renters' insurance costs less than 15% of my monthly car insurance bill, which means that they're effectively paying me to insure my apartment.
posted by schmod at 6:52 PM on November 23, 2010

I get my renter's insurance through Amica and it is far cheaper than I thought it could be. In an iffy neighbourhood in Baltimore, it is under US$120/year. At that kind of price, there is no reason for you to each not get your own policy. My understanding is that it only covers your belongings.
posted by QIbHom at 5:37 AM on November 24, 2010

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