What's the deal with Rental Insurance?
April 25, 2007 8:20 AM   Subscribe

PhillyFilter: Moving to a new apartment in a slightly questionable neighborhood. What do I need to know about, and how much would I expect to pay for renter's insurance?

I'm moving to my first apartment, a 4 bedroom, shared with two other people in North Philadelphia, right by the North Philadelphia station on the R8 (16th St. and Glenwood Ave.). The neighborhood could be better, but it's not bad at all, what with a nice new shopping center and supermarket nearby. Still, I'm worried that, as a college student, I might risk getting broken-in.

It's been suggested that I get renter's insurance, and it makes sense, but I'm a student. I don't know the details of how this stuff works. How much would I expect to spend per month? Should the policy cover all three of us? Can it be extended to a fourth person if we get one? How much should the policy cover, monetarily? We're all college students with all the associated high tech gizmos (computers, TV, iPods, game consoles, etc.). None of us has a car, however. Also, what company should I get this insurance with?

Thanks for your help! I can't wait to move in.
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you can afford to have stuff, you should afford to have the stuff insured. My renter's insurance, for just my stuff (never had roommates), no special riders for high-value things, was like 80/year ten years ago, if I recall correctly.
posted by notsnot at 8:35 AM on April 25, 2007

One thing to consider - the insurance company should offer extra protection for valuable property, especially electronics. So, if you've got a lot of computer, A/V, or camera equipment around, get a "rider" for the value of those pieces above and beyond the standard insurance policy.

Be sure to photograph everything, including serial numbers, and store the data (and receipts if you still have them) somewhere safe.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:42 AM on April 25, 2007

Best answer: I lived in West Philly, out on 46th Street. I paid about $15 a month for $10,000 worth of coverage, including a rider for my computer and laptop. This was through State Farm, and I arranged for it on the phone in under 20 minutes. Easy, quick, and cheap.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:53 AM on April 25, 2007

Definitely, definitely get renter's insurance. Do you pay car insurance? If so, then I bet renter's insurance will be free. Back when I was renting, I signed up for renter's insurance which was $12/month for $25,000 worth of coverage. I went with the same company that did my car insurance, so I got a Multi-line discount, which was $14/month. I ended up saving $2/month getting renter's insurance.
posted by AaRdVarK at 8:58 AM on April 25, 2007

Best answer: Seconding the easy, quick, cheap. I have to get insurance too (just moved, although still within Philly), and the apartment manager gave me a booklet from State Farm, and said it would run about $150/year. Definitely worth it.
posted by kalimac at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2007

By my count on last year's murder map there were about 8 homocides within a block or two of 16th and Glenwood, which puts it pretty firmly in bad neighborhood territory. I think your break in concern is pretty justified. You can drop me an email if you want to call my agent, I'm pretty happy with the policy I have and he'll walk you through all these questions with no pressure to take the policy from him.
posted by The Straightener at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2007

Also, Drug cop hurt when dragged 20 feet after reaching into car.

"Officers were on a stakeout around 8 p.m. when they observed a passenger in a nearby car buy narcotics on Glenwood Avenue near 16th Street, North Philadelphia.

Cops said officers approached the car, identified themselves, and Harvey reached inside. As he did, the woman driver sped off, dragging Harvey until he managed to free himself."

I knew I remembered that intersection for a reason.

Just an FYI, in case you weren't aware of any of this stuff.
posted by The Straightener at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: Crime notwith standing, I chose this place based on the advice of my father, a former City construction inspector who knows the entire city like the back of his hand. By his judgment, the area isn't too much worse than Temple University's immediate area (and as I'm living on campus now, I'm quite familiar with it).

Thanks, though The Straightener for the info. Does anyone have suggestions for a company to ask?
posted by SansPoint at 9:19 AM on April 25, 2007

Best answer: We had renter's insurance last year through State Farm for our place on 20th & Green & I don't think it was any more than about $180/year, and that included extra coverage for the various computer/electronic equipment I've got.
posted by zempf at 9:49 AM on April 25, 2007

Check with any organizations or alumni groups you belong to - many of them get a discount with various different providers. I got 14% off my renters insurance through my alumni group with Liberty Mutual.
posted by langeNU at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2007

Best answer: I've lived in some slightly-sketchy places (not Philly, though) and never paid more than $20/mo. for renters insurance through USAA; this was on their minimum policy which was like $15k of stuff with maybe $5k max in electronics/computers and $2k in firearms. (You need to check the maximums on stuff like that, because there are a lot of categories of items, e.g. jewelry, some types of clothing esp. furs, negotiable securities, etc., that have maximums lower than the total cap.) If you're over the cap for anything, you may need to purchase additional riders, although sometimes it can be cheaper to go out and get separate policies from companies that specialize in particular types of insurance (e.g. firearms or electronics, although I doubt you'll have the former in Philly).

Each of you in the apartment should get your own renter's insurance. I doubt any company will write you a joint or collective policy anyway; your policy will cover your stuff and only your stuff, and if you work with an agent you should check to make sure that items stored in common areas of the house are covered.

Anyway, I think you're absolutely right to get renters' insurance, particularly as a student who could be pretty ruined by having all your stuff stolen. I'd definitely encourage your roommates to get it, too, but ultimately it's their decision to make separately.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 AM on April 25, 2007

Best answer: I had renters insurance with Travelers for 10+ years. Nthing the cheap & easy issue. Get your own policy. Also, note that you'll be eligible for some nice discounts due to the proximity of fire stations and fire hydrants.
posted by desuetude at 11:32 AM on April 25, 2007

If you can't replace absolutely everything you own for under $200, get renters insurance. It does not matter what kind of neighborhood you live in; things like fires and tornadoes and robberies happen in nice neighborhoods too!

My only tip for getting better rates is that most insurance companies give a discount for having multiple policies. For example, if you have your renters and your auto insurance with Allstate, you save 10%. Shop around.
posted by ilsa at 6:41 PM on April 25, 2007

Oh, and be sure you understand your coverages. Most policies have limits on things like computers. So if you have a pricey desktop and a laptop, for example, consider a separate policy from Safeware for $69/yr.
posted by ilsa at 6:43 PM on April 25, 2007

I have All State and I really like it. When I first moved to Philly it was like 112$ a year. Two years ago I upped my coverage a bit because we bought a new and expensive computer and some other gadgets. So, this year I'll be paying about $150. Which is a great deal and totally worth it--though I really hope I never need it!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:49 PM on April 25, 2007

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