Spend a Little, Save a Lot...

Over the last few years, I've been flabbergasted at the amount of military families I meet who do not have renters insurance.  Some installations "'require" or "strongly suggest" it for base housing, but don't ever check to see if tenants actually carry it.  That “requirement” information is usually found in some sub-paragraph in the housing agreement that we all hurriedly sign in the please-just-get-me-out-of-lodging flurry of paperwork.

In my mind, renters insurance is one of the cheapest and most valuable bills we pay each month.

I know that insurance can seem B-O-R-I-N-G, but setting it up truly can be done in 15 minutes or less, even if you don’t use the gecko company.  You can call or go online to whatever company you currently use for your car insurance and check out their renters insurance policies.  Generally, if you carry both auto and renters (or home) insurance through the same company, they’ll give you a great discount.  Many carry basic renters insurance policies for less than $20 a month, giving coverage for up to $50,000 in damages.

I won’t make your eyes glaze over with a bunch of numbers, but think, just for a minute, on what a fantastic return on investment that is!  You pay them a measly few bucks a month, and if something ever happens to your stuff, they help you get replacement stuff.  Adding up the little I pay each month, it would take a loooooong time to total what I’d have to pay out of pocket to replace our stuff.

I’ve also realized that some people who pay for renters insurance have no idea what it actually covers.  Most people think that it’s only for huge losses such as burglary or fire.  I was one of those people until I had a conversation with a representative from USAA, our insurance carrier, as we prepared to PCS.  He mentioned that they would reimburse us for food spoilage in the event of a power outage.

That conversation caused me to actually skim through the fat packet detailing our coverage. Our basic coverage includes things like jewelry loss (up to a certain amount) and theft of items from our car.  It also covers all of our property while in transit during PCS.  After talking to our representative, I added specific coverage for our computers and our jewelry such as wedding rings and other high-value items that weren't covered by the basic policy.  It was a quick conversation and the coverage only costs a few extra dollars a month.

I cashed in on that food spoilage coverage right after we moved into housing here at our new duty station.  We went shopping for groceries and stashed it all in the fridge, only to wake up our first morning in our home to discover that the fridge wasn’t actually working!  I called USAA, answered a few questions (including an estimate of how much we had spent on the food that had spoiled), and they deposited funds into our checking account in less than 24 hours.  No paperwork, no argument… just that easy.  I recouped all of the premiums I had paid over the last six months with that one phone call!

If you don’t currently carry renters insurance, I encourage you to spend just a few minutes getting that coverage.  If you already have it, look over your policy to find out what kind of financial assistance they offer in return for the money you send them each month.  You might also consider adding policies for specific items like your computers or jewelry.

While insurance stuff can seem boring, it’s also a great way to save money.  Do you have any experiences like mine to share?

Disclaimer:  I’m not a financial advisor.  The information provided in this blog post is based around my own personal experiences and is for informational purposes only.

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