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The value of renters insurance

I got an email this week from a reader concerned about people who go without renters insurance.

“I read article after article about fires and NO renters insurance. I believe for renters it is about $100-$150 per year. There are people who need help, but if you won’t get insurance, I have a hard time donating to those who won’t help/protect themselves to begin with. Do they really not know about this?�

This reader suggested that even $150 a year to protect everything you own is well worth it—only two cartons of cigarettes, for example.

The landowner is covered by his homeowners insurance, but that doesn’t cover the renters, my reader suggested.

“I had it 22 years ago when I rented. My guess is they don’t have auto insurance either, but still this is way less than auto insurance.�

It has been years since I needed renters insurance, so I turned to my agent, Rick Stahl at Rural Insurance in Janesville, to confirm points my reader made.

For landlords he deals with, “we have always encouraged them to communicate with their renters about the importance of renters insurance,� Stahl replied by email. “You may think you’ve got it covered. But typically, your landlord’s insurance won’t protect your personal property. It also won’t cover you if a liability suit is filed against you—for example if you own a dog and it bites someone, that would be a liability exposure.

“Renters insurance provides affordable coverage for renters who need personal property, liability coverage and loss of use coverage.�

Besides, Stahl explained, “Auto insurance is required in the state of Wisconsin, and by taking out a renters policy with the same company, it provides a discount that will pay a good portion of the renters policy premium.�

So is from $100 to $150 in the ballpark for annual cost of renters insurance?

Yes, Stahl says.

I realize some renters might be living paycheck to paycheck and that even this modest amount is one more cost they find unaffordable. It seems like sound protection to me, however, whether the disaster comes by way of wind, fire or flood.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or
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