Got insurance?

Your prize possessions are summed up in one box, containing no more than a single saucepan, four plates, a stereo from back when they were called “ghetto blasters” and the cutlery you “liberated” from Earls last summer. So why would you want renter’s insurance? If you think you don’t, here are some reasons it could come in handy.

Your ghetto blaster is a valuable antique and is stolen by a local collector. This loss from theft would be covered by renter’s insurance.

All you can afford to rent is a dingy place with leaky ceilings. The damage to the ceilings is covered by your landlord, but your water-logged possessions would only be covered if you have a renter’s insurance policy.

Pizza boy finds out too late that your driveway is an ice rink. Now you’ve got a claim to pay his medical bills. A renter’s insurance policy can include coverage for liability for injury to others.

"A lot of people don’t realize how much they really have until they start to add things up," said Kerry Talbot, an insurance agent at the Co-operators.

If you add things up and still think you couldn’t get more than a chunk of change for all you own, then you may decide renter’s insurance isn’t worth it.

"It is not how much your personal property is worth, but the real question comes down to whether you can afford to replace it," said Norma Nielson, Chair of Insurance/Risk Management in Haskayne School of Business.

She also mentions that aside from being liable for an injury that occurs to someone else on your property, renters are responsible for any accidental damage they may cause to the landlord’s property.

Policies can start from as little as $10 a month for basic coverage, and in certain circumstances will cover loss or damage of your possessions when it occurs away from the rented premises, like if your laptop was stolen from your car. Because most policies have "internal limits" and only cover up to a certain dollar value for particular items or types of items (e.g. jewellery or electronics), personal articles policies are also available which offer insurance on single valuable items. It is important to know whether the insurer would reimburse a loss at the actual value of the item or at the replacement cost. If an item is old, its actual value won’t be much, so it’s better to be insured for the cost of replacing the item.

And always check out the deductible, that is how much you have to pay before the insurer will help you with the rest.

Most policies are issued on an annual basis, but if you’re living back at home for the summer, inquire about suspending your policy.

If you have a car, getting your auto and renter’s insurance policies with the same insurer can offer a discount.

Nielson suggests students living in residence should find out whether they can be covered by their parent’s home insurance policy. However living with roommates is different. Some insurers are hesitant to issue policies.

"[There is a lack of] control over the risks of the environment," explained Karen Lyons from Bow Valley Insurance Services.

Because policies and pricing can be diverse, the best approach is to shop around. Check out "Insurance Agents and Brokers" in the Yellow Pages for a listing of policy providers.

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