My new building requires renters insurance: pls advise me on the basics
August 25, 2014 5:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm a relentless optimizer and usually do tons of research before making decisions, but I am shuddering at the thought of wading through endless legal and sales verbiage on insurance sites, or even worse, of enduring verbal sales pitches from agents/brokers. Please help me short-cut through the tedium of getting this done. A few extra details inside.

Details that may or may not be relevant: I live in a new building in San Francisco and own the ordinary types of stuff, nothing wildly unusual. No pets if that matters, and no unusual risks I'm aware of. I travel a lot and it would be awesome to have my phone, laptop, etc. covered when I do. I don't own a car so can't tack this onto auto insurance. I do own various forms of health/disability/life insurance but don't love my providers and don't particularly want to use them for this. I have a bank account with USAA but don't know if that entitles me to insurance through them -- I know they have some not-entirely-clear-to-me restrictions and if there's a military-related prerequisite for insurance I wouldn't meet it. I have accounts with a couple of other major banks and a local credit union. In general I prefer small providers over megacorporations, and I like to do stuff like this online rather than F2F or on the phone.

I'd welcome any basic context, caveats/warnings, ballpark costs. Specific providers, policies, URLs, would be great. Thanks in advance for helping me avoid massive tedium -- I am okay if I don't get the absolute best possible result; I would just like to get this done. Bonus points if I can do the whole thing online, without ever speaking with a company rep :)
posted by Susan PG to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
USAA is supposed to be really good if you can get it. Call them!

I have AAA. Also very good. They cover the replacement cost, not the value of items. This is very important.

You can and should get earthquake insurance.

Flooding is sometimes not covered, so look into that.
posted by jbenben at 5:38 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a car and have USAA auto insurance through them, so I was able to tack my rental insurance on top of my auto policy. I honestly recommend calling them and seeing if you're eligible for renters insurance through them. They are super duper nice (known for having top-notch customer service), have competitive rates, and I've never felt like I was getting a sales pitch. I'm thinking that if you are eligible for a bank account with them then you should be able to get insurance (I am not in the military but I have USAA because my dad was in the Public Health Service and I was on his USAA policy when I was younger).

Honestly if you're eligible for USAA I'd just go with that and be done with it.
posted by radioamy at 5:39 PM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

My renter's insurance is with USAA; definitely call and see if you qualify to get insurance through them. I've never had to file a renter's claim, but we just had to deal with a car insurance claim through them and they were totally awesome.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:40 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had renter's insurance in Michigan and New York, for about 20 years. I never paid more than $150/year for it.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:41 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I will vouch for Jake Stewart's State Farm office in SOMA. I find them super responsive by phone and email. Never met 'em in person, but they advised me very patiently when I had to file a claim, didn't make a fuss when I was late with an annual payment, and they put up with endless questions when I was first getting started.

I actually still use his office, even though I've relocated to LA.
posted by samthemander at 5:48 PM on August 25, 2014

I had renters insurance with USAA (and if you have any account with them, I believe you are eligible for insurance). I paid about $8 a month for $40k in coverage. You might want to check with your building to see if there's a minimum amount of coverage you need to have.

We had our bike stolen off our front porch and they were excellent. We got a more than fair settlement very quickly, and aside from answering a few questions and providing a picture of the bike, it was hassle free.

I do think you need to actually call them vs use the website. Their reps are great, though and were very patient when I had them play around with numbers (how much is $30k coverage? how much is $20k? ad infinitum.)
posted by Flamingo at 5:50 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

We pay about $100 per year for renters insurance with the same company that does our car insurance (State Farm.)

It's cheap and it's meant to protect your belongings from theft or casualty.

There's no liability or anything for the building. Just your shit.

Don't go nuts, you can't screw this up. Call an agent and get a quote. You can do it over the phone. Get replacement value, so if your TV gets horked, you can just go out and buy a new one.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:56 PM on August 25, 2014

Yeah I have renters' through State Farm. Only once have I had to make a claim, and it was so effortless, and I pay something like $150 a year. The payout for my one claim is worth 10x what I pay yearly, so it will have paid for itself for a few more years yet.
posted by greta simone at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2014

renters insurance is cheap, there's riders for certain expensive things that you should ask about (photography gear, computers, tv's, electronics, jewelry).
posted by TheAdamist at 6:12 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did a little bit of cursory research on this a few weeks ago and then got overwhelmed by the tedium and settled on State Farm. A kind of annoying thing was that I couldn't do it 100% online so I had to call and give the lady my details over the phone. But that part was pretty quick and painless. Now $20 comes out of my checking account every month and I have way more peace of mind. What was annoying was when I tried to do this back in February, the website forwarded my application to a local office who never called me back. The trick is you have to take the initiative and call them.
posted by bleep at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2014

I'd welcome any basic context, caveats/warnings, ballpark costs.

I have USAA and I think I pay $12/month and I have a tech rider for my laptops. You can give them a call and they can let you know in two minutes if you can get insurance through them. My experience has been that renter's insurance is relatively inexpensive and you mostly want it when something goes wrong with your place that is someone else's fault and their insurance can't or won't cover it (usually a landlord, possibly an underinsured landlord). I'm an optimizer too but this fell into my "It's a few bucks a month difference, go with the one that gives you what you think you want. You will probably never use it and you will never miss the $30"
posted by jessamyn at 6:30 PM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have renter's insurance, but I don't know why. They've never been of any use to me.

Two things I've had problems with:

1. Check your policy for anything related to pest amelioration. When my apartment complex hired bedbug guys who broke and/or damaged multiple pieces of furniture I was out of luck because damage related to pest amelioration was specifically excluded.

2. Check your policy for water damage exceptions. My apartment complex floods a dozen times a year or so, but because the source of the water is from outside the building and the result of poor drainage, damage to my belongings isn't covered. (Pipe bursts and other issues inside the building are covered in my policy.) This is why none of my electronics are sitting on the carpet, because it gets soaked about once a month and my renter's insurance won't help me.
posted by xyzzy at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

AAA did great with renters' insurance for me the last time I had a flood. They will pay for a hotel for you if your place becomes uninhabitable, which is the BEST.

Though if you want insurance to pay for lost items, you'd better keep your receipts of everything you buy--they won't reimburse things like that otherwise.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:53 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

i had allstate for 12 years and never had a problem. everything was done online or thru email. i only called once when i had a break in and thought i might need to make a claim.

renter's insurance is pretty cheap, or should be if they're not scamming you. if you have a ton of high end stuff (jewels, electronics, etc.) you should add on a rider for that. if you live in a flood prone area you should add the flood rider. since you're in san fran i would add earthquake protection if that's a separate rider like flood insurance is.

renter's insurance is super easy compared to any other type of insurance. don't get all het up.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:01 PM on August 25, 2014

One advantage of renter’s insurance is that, like homeowner’s insurance, it comes with “floating” liability insurance, which will cover you anywhere (not just at your rented premises) against personal injury claims. If you turn the wrong way and knock over a skater in the Presidio, you have some low-cost protection.
posted by yclipse at 8:04 PM on August 25, 2014

USAA! All the way!

Seriously, I've had them for, wow, 23 years now. I'd never go anywhere else. Excellent customer service. Great products. Outstanding website.

I know they have some not-entirely-clear-to-me restrictions and if there's a military-related prerequisite for insurance I wouldn't meet it.

How did you get a bank account with them? As far as I know, if you qualify for a bank account, i.e., are a member, you qualify for insurance.

I have a tech rider for my laptops

This saved me several years ago when I got up in the morning and stepped on my laptop. Got a check from them to replace it pretty fast. I may have even done this more than once, I'm sorry to say.

Bonus points if I can do the whole thing online, without ever speaking with a company rep :)

Since they are essentially a one-location bank and designed for military members who move all the time, they've always been ahead of the game as far as remote operations. Unless you are in San Antonio, you can only do online or phone.
posted by Beti at 8:18 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love my usaa renters insurance. They are so nice and so helpful.
posted by spunweb at 8:31 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I always price compare and research -- but I never have with renter's insurance. It's so cheap, like $15 a month. I just take whatever renter's insurance my building recommends and forget about it. That's what I did when I moved here. They said it was required and I said, "What do people normally get?" And they handed me a brochure and told me they could add it to my monthly rent check. Done. Your building likely requires it covers a certain amount or kind of damages or whatever so for me, it's just easier to get exactly what they recommend. I've never used it and I hope I never have to.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:31 PM on August 25, 2014

If you didn't join USAA by either being in the military or one of your parents being in the military, you got your bank account during a few-year window when banking products were open to non-military people. Insurance always requires a military affiliation and, if you joined by a family member, that family member must also have some kind of insurance product through USAA.

To be honest, do what AppleTurnover did and get insurance from whatever provider your building has marketing materials for, provided that you're not spending more than $20/month on it. Since you have no other insurance relationship, this is probably your easiest way out.
posted by fireoyster at 4:40 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I travel a lot and it would be awesome to have my phone, laptop, etc. covered when I do.

I'm not sure about your USAA elibibility, but they offer a computer rider that is cheap and good coverage - up to I think $3k for computer breaking or being stolen, even if it doesn't happen at home and even if it is your own fault.
posted by aka burlap at 7:37 AM on August 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yay, thank you all for your help! I am indeed not eligible for USAA insurance -- I still don't completely understand why but I gather you need the military link for insurance, but not for basic banking. They offered to put me in touch with their partner Liberty Mutual for the discounted rate, but the Yelp LM reviews were so horrible I decided no.

I went with State Farm, who have better reviews -- they're giving me basic rental for about 120/year, plus a tech rider for an extra 5K coverage with 0 deductible, for an additional 140/year. That'll do fine.

Thank you all so much. I really did not want to put much energy into this and because of you, I didn't need to :)
posted by Susan PG at 5:48 PM on September 4, 2014

« Older Bluetooth headphone recommendations for running?   |   Identify this episode! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.