Renters insurance promises peace of mind

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You don’t have to be a homeowner to protect what’s under your roof.  Renters insurance — also called home and contents insurance — will replace a person’s assets in the event of a burglary or natural disaster that results in personal loss. Despite the low cost and ease of obtaining this type of policy, many renters don’t have it.

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A 2014 Insurance Information Institute poll conducted by ORC International found that only 37 percent of renters in the U.S. have renters insurance, as opposed to 95 percent of homeowners who had a plan in place.

It’s a situation local firefighters say is common in West Frankfort.

“Unfortunately, we see this all the time,” said Fire Chief Jody Allen following a fire at the holidays in which the family renting the home was uninsured and lost everything.

But local insurance agents say renters insurance can be surprisingly affordable.

“People are probably misconstrued about the price, but it’s (renters insurance) not that expensive,” said Ryan Patton, an agent at Howell Insurance Agency in West Frankfort.

Patton said that some people choose a minimum contents policy for less than $200 a year while others spend $400 to $500 on their premiums every year. The more coverage, the more the policyholder gets in return. And premiums can often be broken up into monthly payments.

Besides payment for everything from televisions and furniture to clothing and stereo equipment, renters insurance will also cover the cost of hotel and other lodging if the renter is unable to return home because of damage sustained during the event.

Patton said that another plus to having renters insurance is liability coverage included in the policy in case someone is injured inside their apartment or rented home. Liability coverage includes money to pay the injured person’s medical bills, attorney’s fees or settlement.

“A lot of people think that liability insurance is equally important,” Patton said.

In addition to being affordable, these policies are also quick and easy to write, Patton said.

“You don’t have to take pictures of everything that you want covered,” Patton said. “We just need information and the amount you want covered. It’s really simple and doesn’t take long.” Patton said that the whole process can be done in minutes.

Patton said that often times, renter insurance policies can be combined with other policies such as auto insurance, bringing the cost down further.