Money Saving Mondays: Renters' Insurance

As thousands move into new apartments, $20 a month to protect your valuables may be a smart move

With Wednesday marking the 1st of July, thousands of renters around New England will be taking leases on new apartments – but studies show as many as 3 of every 7 won’t bother paying for renter’s insurance.

Dave Ladetto was once among them, but no longer. In the eight years since he graduated from the University of Massachusetts, the Boston public-relations account supervisor has accumulated some good stuff: “Televisions and iPads and, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t have too much. But, you know, what I do have, I've worked really hard for.’’

For several years, Ladetto never bothered to buy insurance. “Both of my roommates had rental insurance, and they had talked about it before, and I had never really given it a previous thought,’’ Ladetto said in a recent interview. “One day, I just kind of looked around my apartment where I live, which is in Cambridge, and I said to myself … ‘What would I have to do if I needed to start over? I thought to myself, what if there was a fire, if there was a tragedy, and then I thought to myself: I don't want to start over.’’

That led him to get a $20,000 renters’ insurance policy, which costs him “$15 a month, and it just ends up being one of those charges you don't even notice’’ on the monthly credit-card statement. He was pleasantly surprised to learn it means more coverage in more places than he expected, including outside his home.

Ryan Hanson, a Liberty Mutual Insurance representative in South Easton, Mass., said it’s common for people to discover they have benefits they didn’t know they were getting. “It’s not just the fire in the apartment. You might have your snowboard and your iPod stolen while you're at a ski resort with your car,’’ Hanson said. “You can't claim it on your auto insurance, but you can claim it on a renter's policy, and I think that that's a huge benefit that a lot of renters dont really know about.’’

Not to mention personal liability coverage if you ever get sued, something you can’t avoid worrying about in the modern era of crazy and unpredictable litigation.

A helpful tool for renters and homeowners that Liberty Mutual offers, and you don't have to be a customer to get it, is a smartphone app called Home Gallery, where you can compile a picture library of all your valuables with purchase dates and prices, which you can export as a PDF if you ever have to make a claim.

Ultimately, if you’ve got the money to buy some good things, you’ve got the money to protect them, too, and advice all too many people have learned the hard way is that the best way to never need insurance is to always have insurance. Or, as Ladetto puts it: “It’s cliched, but it honestly just comes down to peace of mind,’’ a bargain for $15 a month.

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