I spent 2 years paying $4 a month for renters insurance — and it ended up saving me about $4,000 when my kitchen caught fire

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Renters insurance house firesirtravelalot / Shutterstock.comThe author’s home is not pictured.
  • The author, Brynne Conroy, experienced a cooking fire in her home, which was covered by renters insurance.
  • The insurance, which cost her about $US4 a month, covered about $US4,000 worth of damages including replacing damaged property, a stay in a hotel, food costs while her kitchen was being repaired, and specialty dry cleaning to remove the smoky smell from their clothes.
  • Renters insurance can also cover things you might never consider, like items that are stolen from your vehicle or freezer items that thawed after a power outage.
  • Policygenius can help you compare renters insurance policies and rates »

It was a clear, starry November night in Eastern Idaho. Black smoke billowed out of the door as a fire blazed inside our charred kitchen.

I stood there in shock. I had already made sure everyone who lived in the building was out safely. As I contemplated the gravity of everything happening before my eyes, my brain could pull up only one silver lining in addition to everyone being safe:

“Well, at least I have renters insurance.”

Our renters insurance covered about $US4,000 worth of damages

We got off lucky; my ex ran into the house with a neighbour’s fire extinguisher and put the flames out just before they licked the electrical wires behind the oven. A few minutes later the fire department got there and told us he had saved the entire complex from a catastrophic electric fire just in the nick of time.

We didn’t lose everything. But our property did sustain a lot of damage. That’s where renters insurance came in. About two years before the fire, my auto insurer – USAA – had suggested it to me with bundle pricing for about $US4 a month. I called around and got comparison quotes. None of the quotes were high at all, but I stuck with my auto insurer since the bundle package was the most affordable.

Here is what our insurance covered:

  • Replacing property that was damaged
  • Sheltering us while they repainted our apartment and replaced cabinets and other fixtures that had been damaged in the fire
  • Food costs while the home was being repaired as we didn’t have a kitchen to cook in
  • Specialty dry cleaning for our clothing to remove the dense smoke smell

By the time all was said and done, our insurance had covered about $US4,000 worth of damages. Our landlords’ homeowners insurance covered damage to the property itself, though we did have liability insurance as a part of our renters policy.



Compare policies and rates with Policygenius to find the right renters insurance for you »

Again, we were lucky. We could have lost a lot more. But having renters insurance saved us from what could have been quite the financial quagmire as we hadn’t planned or budgeted to stay in a hotel for a week and a half, dine out for most of our meals, replace furniture, or dry clean our entire wardrobe.

The only hiccup was that most of these services worked as reimbursements rather than upfront payments. We had to fund the recovery out of our own pockets and wait for the insurance money to come through. We had enough resources to cover some of our costs temporarily, but not all.

Luckily for us, the fire department had called in a Red Cross representative. In that locale at that specific point in time, they had enough funding to offer to pay for our hotel room upfront, saving us from having to drum up nearly $US1,000 out of nowhere.

The Red Cross is not always this well-funded. Reliance on their services is not a good plan, but we were fortunate in that our fire scare happened to line up with a good time of year for them.

Renters insurance doesn’t just cover you in case of house fires. It also frequently covers the food in your fridge should you experience a power outage, the items in your vehicle if it gets broken into and other types of damage and personal liability that may happen within your home.

With policies often available for less than $US10 a month, getting renters insurance is a necessary part of adulting. I’m so glad we got our policy before we thought we needed it. That $US4 a month saved us from financial upheaval and a whole lot of stress.

Need renters insurance? Compare policies and rates with Policygenius »

Own your home? Policygenius can also help you compare policies for homeowners insurance »

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