Our apartment was broken into in July. Everyone was ok, but all of our electronics and my jewelry box – including both of my grandmothers’ wedding rings – were stolen. I did have renter’s insurance, but I’ve learned a few lessons in the claims process. So to all you renters out there, I impart my hard-earned knowledge (I imagine this could also apply to homeowners, but never having owned a home or homeowners’ insurance, I really can’t say):
1) Have renter’s insurance. This is key, even if you think you live in a safe neighborhood with an alarm and a 2 ton guard dog, you could still have a fire or flood. Renter’s insurance is usually pretty cheap. Mine was $13 per month.
2) Spend the extra money on replacement coverage (which I did not). Otherwise, your insurance company will take their
low-balled value of your items and subtract depreciation (probably about 30%, depending on your items).
3) If you live with someone to whom you are not married, you should each have renter’s insurance or be sure your roommate/live-in partner’s stuff is covered under your policy. Preferably, get this assurance in writing from your insurance company. Do not take your agent’s word that “they can’t technically prove whose stuff belongs to whom” for granted. Unless you really don’t care about your roommate’s possessions…
4) If you own something particularly expensive or priceless (i.e. jewelry, antiques, family heirlooms) get it appraised and specifically added to your policy.
5) Keep detailed records of everything you own that you may need to claim. Ideally, you should have:
- Picture of the item, including a picture of the serial number or other identifying information (e.g. engraving on jewelry)
- Owner’s manual or other documentation of the item (i.e. model number, brand, etc – the receipt may not identify this)
- Store your electronic documentation (pictures, word files with descriptions, etc.) on a cloud service – Shutterfly, google docs, facebook (you can make them private to you only). This way, if your computer gets stolen/your house burns down, you could still access your documentation.