liability – Protecting the Renter Mon, 17 Jun 2013 16:15:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Getting and Comparing Bids for Renter’s Insurance Wed, 21 Mar 2012 21:21:51 +0000 If you’ve made the choice to procure renter’s insurance, now is the time to do some shopping and get some bids. This will allow you to see the different prices out there from all the insurance carriers, which will better ensure that you're getting the best deal. A little education and hard work will come in handy here to also make sure that you're getting the right type and amount of coverage for your particular situation.

Remember, an "apples to apples" comparisons is the only way you can obtain comparable bids to review. You do this by understanding the categories of coverage so that you tell the insurance agent — or your broker who is preparing a bid — to give you X or Y dollars of coverage. This is because if you don’t provide information on what coverage you would like, different agents might quote different coverage amounts.

For example, one agent might quote a premium of $125 per year based on his estimate of $15,000 of personal property coverage. But another might quote $185 based on her estimate of $30,000 of personal property coverage. This means that if you just took the lower priced $125 premium insurance, even though you have $30,000 worth of personal property, and then a fire destroyed all your personal property, you’d only be reimbursed based on your coverage amount of $15,000. So making sure you get the best price for the correct coverage is essential.

When meeting with your agent, have them show you the coverage page with the categories of coverage and maximum coverage limits. The most important ones are for personal property and liability coverage.

Personal property coverage includes your items if there is a fire or flood that damages them, or if your property is burglarized. You need to add up all the value of your electronics, clothing, furniture, bicycles, TVs, computers, etc. and come up with a total value for the goods that you want insured. Discuss this with your agent. Determine the value of your personal property to make sure you remember everything to note. If you are young with just an apartment full of Ikea items, you might only need $20,000 of coverage. But if you are wealthier, you could easily have $150,000 worth of personal property. Once you have a list of your possessions, you can estimate the total and the agent can prepare a premium price for you.

Liability coverage takes care of the other really important part to consider. If you have a dog that might bite someone, or have guests over frequently who might slip and fall, or have an in-unit washing machine where the water intake rubber hose could break, these are all items that could cause you liability. Also, it will cover you if your unit caught on fire and caused damage to other units, whether fire or even just smoke damage. Any of these could cause someone to look towards you for reimbursement for their losses, or sue you if needed. For this reason, a policy might have anywhere from $50,000 liability coverage to $300,000 liability coverage. If you have a good job and make a good living, or have significant wealth, you should consider increasing your liability coverage. You can get additional coverage, maybe called an umbrella policy, that gives you $1,000,000 of liability coverage for an extra $300 to $400 per year. That’s well worth it if you are well to do.

You also need to set your deductible amount at the right level. If you have a loss, you typically pay the first X dollars of your loss, and the insurance company covers the rest. That first X dollars is called your deductible. It can be $100, $200, $500, maybe even $2,500. Keep in mind that typically, the lower the deductible, the higher the insurance premium, so ask your agent how changing deductibles will change your premium price.

Lastly, discuss with your agent whether their policy covers Actual Cash Value (ACV), which is the depreciated value of the property, or the replacement value, which is what it would cost to buy the new personal property today. If you can choose, remember that which one you select will impact your annual premium cost and your coverage. More information is at .

Call a few agents, submit an application online, get some bids back, look over the coverage to ensure it is the same coverage in each bid, and select the carrier that you feel comfortable will be there in case you have a loss and need to make a claim!

]]> 0
Can a Landlord Force You to Have Renter’s Insurance? Fri, 16 Mar 2012 21:48:33 +0000 Since renters insurance was not that prevalent in the marketplace a few years ago, it is still a relatively unknown product, especially for the average renter. However, it is gaining familiarity to both renters and landlords because of the increasingly litigious atmosphere in which we live. Some tenants see it as another expense, and in a tough economic environment, many are happy with the fact that renter's insurance is still largely voluntary. Landlords however, are realizing how important coverage can be and how it can protect them in case something goes wrong with a tenant or the apartment. Because of this revelation, more and more landlords are beginning to require renter's insurance as a factor for rental qualification, but many tenants are still resisting taking out a policy. But can a landlord legally require a tenant to have a renter's insurance policy in place?

But before answering that, let's delve into why tenants should want renter's insurance, whether it's mandatory or not. Many young and newer renters may not be familiar with the reason we have insurance in the first place. It’s not just because the state requires you to have certain types of insurance, such as automobile insurance. The reason you have insurance is so that in case something bad happens, namely something that would be financially devastating to your life and livelihood like a bad car accident, there is a backstop of sorts to help you through the process and pay the undoubtedly enormous bills that would otherwise fall at your feet.

In fact, without insurance in place to take care of those bills, you could be paying for that incident for decades. They’d be a huge financial strain and cause considerable stress in your life. Luckily, having insurance can prevent that financial stress from occurring.

A renter's policy protects you from several issues that could happen to your residence. If you get robbed, the insurance company helps replace the things that were stolen. If you cause a flood or fire, the insurance company helps pay for the damages. If a guest of yours slips and falls and sues you, the insurance company helps pay for the settlement. These are real things that do happen and again, you want to have the insurance company looking out for you in those times. It’s nice and dandy to think that those incredible streaks of bad luck will never happen to you, but guess what? They can, and for many, they do! Luckily, despite all that, major incidents are still rare, and that is why renter's insurance is relatively inexpensive. It typically costs around $120-$250 per year for fairly good coverage.

So can a landlord force you to have renter's insurance? The answer is no, as long as it isn’t stated as a requirement in your current lease. However, as soon as a lease renewal comes up, if the landlord does state in the lease that renter's insurance is required, you will have to get it or else you'd be violating the lease and therefore risk eviction.

However, whether you are required or not by the landlord to purchase renter's insurance should be a secondary consideration. It’s just a good policy to always have at least some insurance in place to cover your risks. Talk to your agent about the right coverage. Your primarily consideration should be that you need to protect yourself and your future wealth. And an inexpensive renter's insurance policy is just a smart move to make your life easier, just in case something happens!

]]> 0
Convincing a Landlord to Allow Your Dog Mon, 30 Jan 2012 22:08:26 +0000 Many rental units in apartment buildings or privately owned rental properties have restrictions on dog ownership, most barring animals altogether from those properties. This can create a shortage of rental units that will allow tenants with animals. But all is not lost for renters with canine companions. As a long-term landlord who happily accepts tenants with certain types of pets, I can give you some guidance on the best ways to convince a landlord to let you and your dog rent their property.

Rental property owners generally earn the most money and do the least amount of management work when tenants stay on for multiple years. Now, consider that since there are fewer rentals available for pet owners, this usually means that pet owners stay for multiple years when they rent. Bring this up with your landlord and let him or her know that you plan to stay for several years in their property. Also, remind them that they will not have to go through the entire re-leasing process of showing the property to tenants, and helping new tenants move in and old ones move out for several years because you plan to stay.

Keep in mind that insurance can be an issue with certain dog breeds, like Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans. More types are listed in this Trupanion article . While those breeds can be fantastic pets if properly trained, some insurance companies have learned that they have a higher incidence of biting others, so they're typically excluded from coverage. Some landlords will also simply reject certain breeds for whatever reason, which they have the right to do. Regardless, if you want to increase your chances of having your landlord accept your pet, you should carry renter’s insurance that covers liability related to your dog. This way, if your dog does hurt another person or pet, your insurance can cover it. Letting the owner know that you will carry adequate coverage for your pet should help ease their concerns about problems with tenants who have dogs.

You could also offer to pay a larger pet deposit or some additional rent to cover wear and tear related to having a dog. A reasonable figure might be an additional 25% security deposit and maybe 5%-10% additional rent, depending on the size and type of pet you have. You should also offer to bring your pet to meet the owner for their consideration. This will be a big help if you have a well-behaved animal. But if your animal isn’t well behaved, you should avoid wasting the owner’s time, especially when he or she probably will reject your request due to your dog's unruly behavior.

Barking is another issue with dogs, especially in apartment or condominium complexes. Bigger dogs have much louder barks, which could be an issue. To alleviate this cause of concern, train your pet before bringing it to meet the landlord. Bark collars that gently vibrate on a dog's neck can work very well and are humane to use. In fact, my dog Buckley (picture above), at one point was called Barkley because he just wouldn't keep quiet! We invested $30 in a bark collar and after about three weeks of use, his excessive barking ceased. He hasn’t had the collar on since then, and everyone is happy about his newfound appreciation of less vocal communication.

Finally, cleaning up after your pet is another issue you should address when convincing your landlord to let your pup live with you. As the dog owner, you need to show your potential landlord that you will be respectful to the property grounds. This is especially true if it is an apartment complex or condominium community. No one wants to see or clean up after someone else’s pet, so a promise to a potential landlord that you will always handle it should help.

As with many items about renting property, making a strong promise to convince the landlord, and then holding to your promise will go a long way in persuading a landlord to take a little risk they may not have taken before. So if you've been a model tenant, or know that you will be, show your landlord that you and your pup deserve a chance to rent.

]]> 0