SOURCE: Assurant

December 10, 2013 12:11 ET

Protecting Your Dreams

Renters Insurance Safeguards Families, Assets

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - Dec 10, 2013) - (Family Features) There are many reasons people choose to rent over home ownership. Whether saving up for a dream home, you're having difficulty affording one or you simply enjoy commitment-free, hassle-free living, renting certainly has its perks. For those who choose to rent, having adequate protection is a must -- and with advances in the industry, finding the right coverage is easier than ever.

Protecting your assets
For many looking to rent a home or apartment, the thought of renters insurance may seem less important with so many other things to think about. Though not all landlords require it, many do, and for good reason.

"Though you never hope you have to use it, insurance is so valuable to the protection of your family, your belongings, and, overall, your peace of mind," said Kathy McDonald, senior vice president at Assurant Specialty Property. "Many returning to the rental market will be pleased with how the insurance industry has evolved, which makes acquiring the best coverage easier than ever."

Advancements in the industry
The conveniences brought on by computers, tablets and smartphones have greatly improved the services insurance providers now offer. With easy-to-follow websites, apps and customer service chats, one can check the status of a claim 24 hours a day.

Keep a home inventory
To evaluate the amount of coverage you need -- and assist if you ever need to file a claim -- keeping a well-documented list of your possessions is important. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) stated 59 percent of consumers do not have a proper listing of their possessions in the event of a fire, robbery or other loss incident.

"All renters and homeowners should develop a home inventory," said McDonald. "Whether it is electronics, furnishings, collectibles, jewelry or clothing, families need to know what they own and how much it's worth."

  • Use tracking tools
    Put down the pen and paper and get out your smartphone. Many new apps are available to properly keep track of every item in your home. Some even allow you to track every belonging room-to-room with bar codes, pictures, photos or scans of receipts and descriptions. This helpful tool also can create a back-up file -- just in case.
  • Update your list
    According to the survey, 59 percent of those who do have a list of their belongings admit they haven't updated the list within the past year. That can fail to account for many gifts and purchases throughout the year. Make a mental note to add to your list after each birthday, the holidays or other similar occasions.
  • Note valuable items
    Make sure you get sufficient coverage for expensive belongings such as artwork or collectibles, which may be subject to policy limits. As many policies only cover $1,000 for jewelry, you may need additional coverage, considering many jewelry items exceed that amount.
  • Consider everything has value
    Many items have more value than you think. To better understand this, consider how much it would cost to replace every item in one load of laundry. Sometimes, it's the little items that add up. Jot down everything -- clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets and power tools.

In-depth information on renters insurance is available from providers. For information on renters insurance from Assurant, visit www.renterssecurity.com.

Did you know?
Through the simple act of listening to the needs of their customers, insurance companies are finding real solutions to increase customer satisfaction. A recent survey conducted by Assurant Specialty Property revealed that many long-time renters didn't know they could transfer policies from one rental unit to another. Instead of beginning a new policy each time they move, the company advises these renters to simply update their address and they can keep the same policy.

5 things to look for in a rental property
Along with choosing the best renters insurance coverage to fit your needs, there are other things to consider. Before you sign your name on the line, make sure you take into account these five important items to look for when searching for that perfect apartment or rental home.

  • Affordability
    Add up monthly rent, utilities and all other costs to ensure you can afford it with your current budget.
  • Safety
    It's important to find out about crime occurring in the neighborhood in which you are interested. Contact the local police department for information and police reports on robberies and other crimes in the area. An evaluation of the property's safety is also essential, such as the lock features on doors and windows and working smoke detectors.
  • Environment
    Make sure your fellow residents match your own lifestyle. For example, an older community is typically quieter, while an apartment complex with college students may involve some loud, late nights. Choose an area that fits your personality and your needs.
  • Amenities
    Check out the features of the property and determine what is important for your family and lifestyle. Does the facility have a gym, an area for walking your dog or that porch you've always wanted? Keep these ideas in mind as you will likely be living here at least one year.
  • Appliances
    One major deciding factor of rentals should be the appliances that are included with the unit. Ensure the stove, oven and refrigerator are all in working order. Other essential devices, such as air conditioning, heating, hot water heaters and, if applicable, washer and dryer units, should be tested beforehand.

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