While The Renter Slept…
A Monday morning about three (3) years ago came with a huge surprise.
A slightly frantic business associate called first thing that morning. During the weekend, while taking a middle-of-the-day nap in her home, she awoke to find herself face-to-face with a burglar. Thankfully he didn’t harm her physically, but he stole her laptop. It took a while before she felt comfortable and safe in her own home again.
The first and most painful question she asked me was, “Eustace, Does my landlord’s insurance cover this loss?” Sadly I had to tell her, “No, your landlord’s insurance literally stops at your door. If you don’t own a Renters Insurance policy, you have no coverage.”
Then she asked if this was the coverage I tried to convince her to purchase when she first moved into her apartment. Again, sadly, I told her yes. But the upcoming vacation was more important than paying for Renters Insurance.
To her credit, she didn’t say, “That’s not fair.” She simply accepted she lacked coverage. We spoke for a while and then ended the call.
I Don’t Like Those Calls
Losses to the property of renters many times each day and, based on current economic conditions, will continue to increase. The losses are caused by burglaries, robberies, fires, building collapses and lawsuits. All renters must understand this fact: Your landlord’s policy protects them should they lose their property to fire theft and negligence. Why don’t you do the same for your property and way of life? If you don’t own Renters Insurance, you stand to suffer disruptions to your daily life without the benefit of receiving the money you’ll need to rebuild your life.
Usually, when I speak to clients about their Renters Insurance needs, they think they only need about $10,000.00 of coverage. So I play a game of I created called “How much Renters Insurance Will I Really Need To Replace Everything I Own?” with them.
I take out a piece of paper, and ask them, for example:
- How much did the fur coat cost?
- What about the new Nikon or Canon camera with all the gadgets?
- What about your laptop, big screen TV, and home theatre and stereo systems?
- What kind of clothes do you have in your wardrobe and what is the value of all of your clothing, down to the last sock?
- Do you sleep on bed sheets? If so, what would you need to replace every sheet, pillowcase, bath towel, face cloth?
- What about the china, silverware, flatware, and regular dishes.
- How much did you spend on the furniture in your home?
- How much did you spend on your laptop? (My friend lost a top-of-the-line MacIntosh.)
- How much jewelry do you own?
Special Questions For The Ladies And The Men
Ladies must answer questions about the value of their shoes and handbags. And don’t worry, men have their own special questions about the value of all the replica football, basketball and baseball jerseys in the closet, in their dresser drawers, on the chair, and under the bed. And their baseball caps. And the expensive sneakers. And no, I don’t believe sneakers should be addressed with proper names until they can have their lifts replaced like Loubitinis (Yes, I know that isn’t how you spell it!).
Guess what? I didn’t even mention your possible need for off-premises theft. You know, for when someone snatches the valuable electronics out of your hands on the street, or when you “just take a minute” to get another latte at the coffee shop and return to your table to find your laptop, phone and wallet stolen.
The Game Is Really Easy To Master
Suddenly, reality sets in and they realize they could actually need to insure their belongings for at least $40,000 to $50,000. And what would it cost them for this coverage? In most cases, especially should you maintain a great credit score, usually no more than one (1) or (2) dollars a day.
Just $365.00 to $730.00 each year. And some people, like college students on a budget, even less. Think the cost is too high? Well, how much do you spend everyday on coffee you could make at home? Could you eat out at least one or two less meals each week?
Some Tips On Securing Your Home and Your Possessions:
- Do a complete, ‘Down to the last sock,’ inventory of all of your personal belongings. If you don’t have Renters Insurance and try to claim your losses on your income tax return, the IRS will need you to provide proof of ownership.
- Go to your local police precinct and see what anti-crime products are available to you. The best part is, they tend to be free. You just need to simply ask.
- Make sure that all of your electronic devices, be they I-Touches, smart phones, or laptops, have strong passwords.
- Buy “Lojack for Laptops” and install it on your laptop. It only costs about $29.99.
- Purchase and use a security cabling system for your desk computer at home and laptop computers, whether at home, on campus, or at the local library.
- In case of loss to your computers, keep up-to-date backups in a secure location.
- Secure your home against illegal entry using Fire Department approved window gates.
- If you can, install a fire and burglar alarm system.
- Keep windows and doors locked when you are away, and secured when you are at home.
- It’s nice to be neighborly, but don’t feel obligated to invite the neighbors in for a party. Some of them may want to continue the party while you are at work.
- On occasion, vary the times you leave for work and come home.
- Don’t put your vacation plans on Facebook or any of the other social media. Thieves love to troll these sites to see just who is dumb enough to tell them when they can come and steal.
- Finally, buy Renters Insurance. Lots of it.
For guidance in setting up a personal home inventory, feel free send me an email at [email protected], or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope with 86¢ postage addressed to for a copy of Travelers Personal Inventory brochure. You can even stop by the office and ask for a copy of the brochure.
While it was too late for my friend to benefit from owning this coverage, your luck may have held out until now. Call me at 718-783-2722 and I’ll be glad to give you a Renters Insurance quote designed to fit your needs, and your budget.
Eustace L. Greaves Jr. is a business owner providing his clients with insurance and income tax strategies and solutions. To reach Eustace by telephone, just dial 718-783-2722. Or, you can send an email to him at [email protected].