Renter's Insurance in California?
August 15, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Renter's Insurance in California?

I have never had renter's insurance before, but I've decided I now have enough 'stuff' that it would be a good idea. But, I have no idea how to go about it! I do not have a car, and all my friend's with renter's insurance have simply added it to their car insurance. I'm wondering - what are the best companies to go with (I am in CA), and what do I need to do from my end - I've heard photos of all my belongings, although that sounds like a lot of work! Any other tips with actually getting them to pay up if something happens (I've heard horror stories here, and don't really want to pay for insurance if it will end up being useless should something bad happen.)
posted by rainbowbrite to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Call up State Farm or any other big name insurance agent. Find someone local. You'll pay about $150 annually.

You don't have to do much of anything to get the insurance. Just decide how much you want them to pay if all your crap burned up in a fire. Most folks go for about $20k to $30K of coverage. If you have something super-valuable, like a Picasso or a particular piece of jewelry, you get that covered separately.

Get replacement value.

Once the insurance is secure, take a video of your current stuff, upload to You Tube. If you like scan receipts and upload to the cloud so they're there. With dates and prices.

Then, if anything should happen, you've got your information, no matter where you are.

Don't store paper receipts in your house.

That's what the cloud is for.

(and I should probably follow my own damn advice.)

You won't need the proof to get the insurance. Only if you file a claim.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:04 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't have a car and I have rental insurance through State Farm. There's a long form with information about your your apartment or house in terms of age, kinds of heating/cooling, fire alarms, and that kind of thing. It was really easy to set up. You can select different deductibles and levels of coverage; make sure that you specifically have coverage for your electronic items. If you're in California, are you at risk for earthquakes or fires? You may want to ask about coverage for those kinds of events as I suspect it's a little different than PA...I have taken pictures (though only backed them up, not stored a copy elsewhere, whoops) of important items up close (like jewelry) and general room pictures just to have proof of what I do have and the condition it was in. If you purchase bigger-ticket items (clothing, kitchen gear, electronics) it may be worth saving the receipts like Bunny suggested. My roommate's stuff is also covered under our policy, though we both had to provide driver's licenses and social security numbers for that to work.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:11 AM on August 15, 2012

I'm a huge fan of Amica. Great customer service. I just answered their questions about where I lived and estimated the worth of all my things in one lump sum.
posted by spec80 at 9:12 AM on August 15, 2012

I go through CSAA (aka AAA). It was extremely useful for paying for my motel for 2 weeks after the last apartment flood, as well as food, and they contributed money to my PG&E bill, which went drastically up that month when I had to have various machine dryers running in there 24-7.

But if you want to get replacement money for stuff that was damaged, it turns out that you'd better have receipts and proof of money for everything you want a replacement for. Since I'd had the stuff for many years and long since had no clue what I'd paid for it, that meant I couldn't get them to replace anything. I really only had one piece of crap furniture damaged this time, so it wasn't a big deal. But if I'd had the insurance for my first flood, the one where I lost most of my furniture due to flooding...well, I think I would have ended up doing what I did then, i.e. beg Mom to pay for replacements. This won't help you for stuff that you already bought, I suspect, but you may want to save receipts in the future.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:24 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just as a word of warning, for California in particular, you may need an earthquake rider. The default policy may not cover earthquake damage, so you'll have to get a separate policy just for earthquakes. Whether it's worth the expense is up to you, of course.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:54 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whether or not you need an Earthquake rider, make sure you read the fine print for Earthquake coverage. It will certainly have a substantial deductible, and may not cover alternate housing.
posted by fief at 11:08 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

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