Whether you live in an apartment, rental house, condo, co-op, dorm room or senior living complex, renters insurance is security you should consider. How much would it cost to replace your belongings in the case of an issue at your rental? Even a minimally furnished apartment – bed, furniture, clothing, kitchenware – can quickly add up to thousands of dollars to replace. Can you afford to replace them?
In the District of Columbia, renters insurance costs anywhere from $8 to $25 per month and can cover almost all personal property inside your dwelling as well as liability for medical or legal expenses if a visitor is injured. It can even cover temporary lodging if you can no longer live in your rental due to unforeseen property damage.
The administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser wants to make sure you are well-informed. As the commissioner of the DC Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB), I would like to share five tips for renters:

Tip #1: Talk to your insurance agent or company about the property you want to protect and the hazards you would like to be insured against. They will help you determine the amount and cost of coverage you may need.

Tip #2: Ask your agent or insurer about premium discounts. Many insurers may reduce your premium if you have fire or burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems and/or deadbolts on exterior doors.

Tip #3: Ask your agent or insurer about loss of use or extra living expense coverage. You should determine whether you have sufficient limits of coverage. This coverage will help pay additional living expenses if there is damage to the building you are renting and you must live elsewhere during repairs.

Tip #4: Keep an open dialogue with your agent or insurer about additional or new coverage endorsements. You should understand how your coverage works, which losses are covered and which are not. Typically, natural disasters are not covered by a renters insurance policy. If you believe you may be subject to these risks, consult your insurance agent or company about possible coverage options.

Tip #5: Finally, it is important to maintain a home inventory checklist or worksheet. Your home inventory can include pictures of your property, documentation of purchases, proof of ownership and identifying information such as serial/model numbers or descriptions of your property. This makes it easier to file an accurate and detailed insurance claim in case your possessions are damaged or destroyed. Visit naic.org to download a free home inventory checklist.

NOTE:  Students who live on a school’s campus may be covered under their parents’ homeowners insurance, but college students living off-campus should obtain their own renters insurance policy.  

In the District, approximately four out of 10 residents live in rental properties but only 44 percent of these renters have renters insurance. For more insurance-related information or to take advantage of DISB programs and resources, call DISB at 202-727-8000, visit disb.dc.gov and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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  1. I appreciated it when you shared that it is important to have a home inventory checklist or worksheet to file an accurate and detailed insurance claim in case your possessions are damaged or destroyed. My uncle just mentioned the other day that he is planning to lease his old apartment since no one is living there anymore after his son moved to another country for good. I will suggest to him getting renters insurance for the place from a reliable provider.

  2. Hi there. My son plans to rent an apartment downtown once he starts his college degree program next month. I found it interesting when you mentioned that we should be specific on what we want to include under our insurance coverage. I’ll ask him to keep an eye on this information when he makes the final arrangement later.

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