Wis. Residents Reminded to Protect Possessions When Renting a Property

October 17, 2005

If you rent an apartment or a house, you are responsible for insuring your personal property and personal liability coverage. Renter’s insurance covers your personal possessions from theft, smoke, vandalism, fire, explosion, falling objects, building collapse and rupture of steam or hot water systems. “Renters often forget they have exposure to liability,” said Jorge Gomez, the commissioner of Insurance of Wisconsin. “A renter’s insurance policy will help protect them against that risk.”

The most important factor in determining how much insurance to buy is the actual value of your belongings. This is called the “actual cash value,” in other words, the estimate of market items. The easiest way to do this is to make an inventory of your belongings and try to determine their value at the time of inventory. Some property, such as art objects and antiques never lose their value, while others depreciate over time.

Costs for renter’s insurance vary depending on the fire protection rating, type of building, the location and the amount of insurance. On average, if you live in a small apartment building, you could expect to pay from $62 to $244 per year for renter’s insurance. If you live in a larger apartment building, you could expect to pay somewhat more.

When searching for an insurance agent, ask a friend or relative the name of a company or agent whom they have had a good experience with. Companies and agents differ not only in cost, but coverage and claims service as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have an existing policy such as an auto insurance plan, ask your provider for a discount on renter’s insurance.

Make sure to check the theft provisions on your policy. This is a common loss for apartment dwellers. Keep a list of your personal property off the premises in case the original is damaged or misplaced and record the serial numbers of your most valuable possessions. Pictures or video of the property may also be beneficial. Remember to report all theft claims to the police department promptly.

OCI publications, such as “A Brief Guide to Renter’s Insurance,” can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, Wis., 53707-7873, calling 800-236-8517 or visiting the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov. The publication is available in both English and Spanish.

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