Looking after your property
It does not matter where you are renting the landlord or owner is not responsible for anything that happens to your belongings or possessions, you are a tenant. The landlord is only interested in insuring his asset, the building. So whether you are renting a house or apartment, or simply a dorm room on or off campus you need to make sure you have the right insurance policy. Another important point is that if you are sharing accommodation then you each need separate insurance.
In fact if you are sharing a place with friends or colleagues you might also want to consider common room insurance for the items that you share, perhaps in the kitchen or a shared common room where you might have a television and other stuff.
Landlord responsibility and liability
Some people think that the landlord is responsible when they are not, others think that their parent’s home insurance will cover them. Always check what cover you have because you cannot take out insurance after you discover you need to make a claim.
A landlord is only interested in looking after his or her property (source)
In most parts of the world the general statistics show that if you are living in rented or shared accommodation you are much more likely to suffer some sort of theft or other incident that means you need to make a claim.
If you are moving away from home to start college or university or to start a job it is easy to forget about insurance completely but it is easy to arrange either online or with a broker. Also if you are moving to another place remember to tell the insurance company. It could be that there is an increase or decrease in the insurance premium depending on where you are moving to.
Check your policy coverage
When you are taking out room or tenants insurance always check that you have insured for the right amount. Some insurance policies on the market look cheap but don’t cover very much. So add up the value of all your belongings and you will probably find that the value is a lot higher than you think. Keep a record of what you have insured and the value along with receipts and photographs of the more valuable items. Often by the time you add up the cost of CDs, DVDs, books, clothes, electronic items and so on you could end up with US$5,000 – 6,000! Email these to yourself or use a folder in a service like ‘Evernote’ so that if you need to make a claim you still have all the information. (see Campus Insurance)
Room insurance, tenants insurance or students contents insurance policies can be worded in many ways with different options. Usually there are options at an additional cost to cover possessions that you might carry with you, like a Smartphone or laptop personal computer, in case of accidental damage or theft. Some recent statistics in the United Kingdom revealed that the average student walking around or commuting to campus was carrying an average of about £1,300 worth of kit such as laptop, iphone or Smartphone, ipod etc. If you use a bicycle round campus it is worth insuring that as well because regardless of how well you secure it they are a frequent target for thieves and joy riders!
A few other points to consider, you can shop around for a good deal on insurance but make sure you are comparing equivalent policies. For example is the excess or deductible in the event of claim similar. Cheaper policies often have a very large excess (the first part of the claim they don’t pay for), others only give you the depreciated, reduced age discounted, value of the items not the current replacement cost. So make sure you have the right cover. Make sure you know what you are covered for and what the exclusions are. For example if you need to leave your stuff in your room or in storage during say vacation time are you covered or are there special conditions?
Often you may be offered automatic renewal of the policy and some even offer a NCD (No Claims Discount) if you have a claim free year.
Remember it is always better to pay for some insurance for peace of mind and then not need to claim on it, but if disaster strikes and you have no insurance your problems increase in magnitude. However, if the worst does come to the worst and you need to make a claim check out my article Renters Insurance Claim for some advice. If you don’t understand something or simply need some advice go and visit a local broker or look at some of the information on the websites of the major insurance companies.