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Renter's Insurance Checklist

No matter where you live, renters insurance is economical and worthwhile: for as little as $10 a month, you can protect your belongings.

Insurance rates vary depending on the amount of coverage and additional features. Some things to consider before signing your check:

Before buying Renter's insurance:

  • Take an inventory of your belongings. Videotaping works well to jog your memory if items are lost. When taping, read off brand names, and serial and model numbers. Also, use a ruler to determine size.
  • Document approximate costs and purchase dates of household goods. This will give you an idea of how much coverage you need and assist you with filing a claim if disaster strikes. When figuring how much coverage you need, many companies offer a ?contents evaluation guide? to assist you.
  • Keep a copy of inventory in a safe place away from your home.

Shopping for Renter's Insurance:

  • Shop around for insurance companies. You may start with your auto or life insurance company. Some companies offer package discounts to clients with more than one plan. And don?t forget about flood or earthquake insurance if you?re in a susceptible area.
  • Ask about discounts for security systems, smoke detectors or deadbolt locks.
  • Some items, like wedding rings and art, may need separate coverage. Ask about this when buying a policy.
  • Also ask about replacement versus cash value coverage. Cash value covers only the value of the item ? taking depreciation into account ? at the time it?s lost. Although they cost more, replacement value policies reimburse the cost to buy the item new. Government claims only reimburse the depreciated cash value of personal goods.
  • Evaluate deductibles and policy limits before you choose a policy. Deductibles determine how much you have to pay before the insurance kicks in, and normally range from $250 to $500. Policy limits are maximum amounts for a policy or class of goods. Determine whether extra insurance is necessary to cover the excess amount.
  • Finally, renters insurance can't protect your memories. Buy a fire-safe box to protect old photos and other items of sentimental value.

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