I recently relocated to Los Angeles from New York City and took the opportunity to draw up a laundry list of things to
finally get around to doing. New city, new goals, (almost) new year.
As I settled into my apartment — which, at a slightly higher cost than my NYC apartment, is much bigger and equipped with a washer/dryer and dishwasher — I checked in on my to-do list progress and noticed the one item I’d been putting off for years was still incomplete: signing up for renters insurance.
I’ve heard enough horror stories from acquaintances over the years to know that it’s a silly, and potentially dreadful, mistake to skip out on renters insurance. Yet, according to a 2015 Insurance Information Institute poll, only 40% of American renters said they had insurance. Interestingly, California, my current state of residence, had the highest percentage of insured renters among all the states at nearly 54%.
To be clear, your landlord typically covers the cost of any damage to your building (if you live in an apartment) in the event of a fire, leak, break-in, or weather-related catastrophe. Renters insurance covers the belongings inside, including electronics, furniture, clothing, and jewellery. Actually, your belongings are covered whether they’re in your home, car, or hotel room — everything you own is protected.
And while fires and break-ins (hopefully) aren’t regular fare, if and when they happen, they could put you in deep financial ruin if you’re not insured.
Business Insider’s Libby Kane describes it best: “Having insurance is a lot like carrying an umbrella with you at all times: Most of the time it feels burdensome, but boy, are you glad to have it when the rain comes.”
Suffice it to say, I’m happy to fork over $20 a month for peace of mind.
Twenty minutes or less
After leaving a browser tab open on the State Farm homepage for a few days, I eventually sat down to fill out the form and get a quote. I chose State Farm in part because they ranked highly on J.D. Power’s 2016 renters insurance survey, but I’ll admit their commercials are pretty good.
I entered in my name, address, social security number (optional), the number of roommates I live with (two), and the amount of coverage I want (I don’t own expensive clothing or jewellery, and I’m buying a policy for my belongings only, not my roommates’, so I chose the lowest coverage option at $18,500).
I also checked off boxes for whether or not my apartment has specific security measures, like deadbolt locks, a fire extinguisher, sprinkler system, alarm system, and smoke alarm. Because I do have several of these, it translates into a $58 “discount” annually.
Within seconds, I got a quote for a premium of $17.25 a month, or $207 a year, with a $500 deductible. That price also includes $100,000 of personal liability protection, meaning I’ll have coverage if someone is injured in my apartment.
What it doesn’t include, however, is earthquake insurance, which I’d have to sign up and pay for separately. Thankfully, I grew up in California and know that earthquakes of home-destroying magnitude are extremely rare, so I’m OK to hold off on that for now.
I entered my credit card information on the spot and set up my effective date for January 1, 2017. After I stopped dragging my feet, the whole process took me less than 20 minutes to complete.
Now, I’m paying less than $20 a month — really, less than 60 cents a day — for peace of mind and protection.