In Chicago, we like to talk about the weather — it can be brutally cold in the winter and humid as a sauna in the summer. Still, we brave the elements year-round, because that’s part of being a Chicagoan.
Did you ever think about how our crazy weather might affect your apartment and your belongings? If you rent your digs—and more than half of us in Chicago do, according to 2010 U.S. Census data—renters insurance can help protect you against certain weather-related occurrences, as well as loss and theft.
What if a power surge from a lightning strike fries your laptop’s hard drive? Or a building fire sparked by an overworked space heater leaves your apartment unlivable? Your landlord’s policy might cover damages to the building, but it likely does not cover your personal property.
Protecting your belongings from the unexpected is smart, and so is knowing what’s covered by your renters insurance policy. Here’s a breakdown of what’s typically covered:
When you think about the cost of your possessions—your new flat screen, your laptop or your engagement ring—the numbers can start to add up quickly. If you need help, check out the What’s Your Stuff Worth app. About half of renters in the U.S. say their belongings are worth more than $30,000, according to a recent news release.
A renters insurance policy typically covers the theft, loss or destruction of your personal belongings in the event of a covered disaster, so you can replace the lost items. The types of events usually covered are fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion and windstorm, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
A renters insurance policy can also help cover your possessions when they’re outside your home—like if you take your camera to the lakeshore and it gets damaged, or if your iPad is stolen from your car.
When you are shopping for a policy, it’s important to understand the two types of policies: Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cost. Actual Cash Value pays to replace your possessions up to the limit of your policy, minus a deduction for depreciation. Replacement Cost pays the real cost of replacing your belongings, regardless of depreciation, up to the limit of your policy.
Renters may refer to the I.I.I.’s Renters Insurance Checklist when shopping for plans to make sure they are adequately covered and all relevant questions are answered.
Accidents happen, it’s just part of life, but it’s nice to have a plan when they do. If a guest is injured in your apartment, liability insurance, which typically comes as a part of your standard renters insurance policy, can help protect you against legal expenses and other damages.
Liability coverage can even help pay for damages caused accidentally by you or your family members. For example, if you’re trimming the bushes and accidentally break your neighbor’s living room window with a tree limb, your liability insurance plan could help cover the damages.
We hate to think about it, but natural disasters can make your home temporary unlivable, and since 1980, the occurrence of weather-related disasters has increased by more than 230 percent, according to Oxfam. Additional living expenses can help to pay for your temporary living expenses—think hotel and restaurants bills and other living expenses you normally wouldn’t incur—while your home is being repaired.
Your agent can advise on how much coverage your policy allows for this type of assistance, and what the limits are. Some companies provide coverage for a set amount of time, while others have a financial cap.
More than half of renters across the U.S. don’t have renters insurance, according to a recent news release. But renters insurance might be more affordable than you think. And as we enter the seasons where our apartments become a refuge from the elements, renters insurance can help offer peace of mind that you and your belongings inside are protected against loss, theft or disaster.
Allstate Agent Pete Fernandez is based in Chicago. Address: 1719 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647. Phone: (773) 252-2100
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