Even though they’re 50% more likely to be burglarized, only 43% of renters have renter’s insurance, compared to 98% of homeowners with homeowner’s insurance. [NYT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. tasselhoff76 says:

    Possibly because the banks holding the homeowners’ mortgages requires them to have insurance.

  2. JustAGuy2 says:

    Unless you own absolutely nothing of value, _and_ are so poor as to be completely judgment-proof, not having renter’s insurance is just dumb. It’s cheap (I pay about $200/year for $50k in coverage). Just get it.

  3. FREAKHEAD says:

    I get my renters insurance through the same folks I get my car insurance. It is only about $10 a month and gives me a discount on my car insurance. It works out in my favor and I am protected. Trust me, it’s worth every cent.

  4. FREAKHEAD says:

    @JustAGuy2: Even if you “have nothing of value” and accidentally start a fire you may be held liable or any other strange circumstance.

    I had a terrible experience when someone broke into my apartment. I didn’t lose too much of value thankfully but my landlord came after me for the replacement cost of the door and the door jam at the end of my lease. Told him I left him a check in hell if wanted to go get it. Just a way to steal my deposit from me. Thankfully I didn’t have to go to court over it but if I would have, insurance may have been handy.

  5. Amy Alkon says:

    Don’t bother getting that discount by doubling up if you’re a writer (or presumably) a blogger and have AAA. They discriminate against writers and won’t give you insurance. (They’re worried about being sued for something you write.) This was in the days before blogging. I write a syndicated advce column, but these days, everybody and their dog has a blog. Wonder if they’re asking the “Are you a blogger question?” An amateur who doesn’t understand standards for libel and slander is much more likely to be sued than somebody like me.

  6. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    My apartment complex actually requires you to have renter’s insurance. I bought it through the same insurer that I have my car insurance (State Farm) and it is very cheap. It is $120 a year, but I got a discount on my car insurance by opening another line with them so it actually works out to be less than $10 a month.

  7. texasannie says:

    We always had renter’s insurance when we lived in apartments. At the last complex we lived in before we bought our house, some kids set a fire in a dumpster, which started a chain reaction that also burned the chiller unit, blew up a transformer on a power pole, and ended with setting a gas main on fire. When I got home from work, ten fire trucks were on the scene pouring water on the 30-foot-high jet of fire that was shooting from the ground, trying to keep it from setting our building on fire. As I stood in the parking lot chatting with my neighbors, I found out we were the ONLY ones with renter’s insurance. Fortunately, the firefighters were able to contain the flames until the gas company could shut off the main so we didn’t have any damage (except we had no electricity or hot water for a few days), but it could have been really bad. I wonder how many of our neighbors wen out and got insurance after that!

  8. JustAGuy2 says:


    That’s why I said “judgment-proof.” If you have no ability to pay a judgment, insuring against such a judgment isn’t worthwhile. That’s very few people, though.

  9. LVP says:

    Renters insurance is also a great protection from property loss due to a fire. It’s amazing how much everything adds up. Even the things that where not burnt are mostly tossed because of smoke & water damage.

    Get it.

  10. Murph1908 says:

    Ok. I am going against the grain here. Please note I don’t completely agree with my following statement.

    I rented for 10 years after college, and never had renter’s insurance. Therefore, I saved about $3000 over that amount of time.

    Would it have cost me more had I had a fire or a burglary? Fire, yes. Burglary, probably not (for the first 7 or so years, anyway). I won my bet. Many others will lose.

    The statistics in this post state ‘50% more likely to be burglarized’. That’s a comparison to an undefined variable meant to scare and shock.

  11. tracilyns says:

    i don’t have it because i live with five other people who are not related to me. i have yet to find a company that is willing to give me coverage.

  12. FREAKHEAD says:

    @Murph1908: So you got lucky and saved $3000. What if you lit a candle at a birthday party and accidentally started a fire that killed a neighbor. $3000 would have been cheap to pay. I hear that reason a lot by people who don’t get car insurance. Then they hit you and you’re screwed. I understand what you are saying but don’t think of what you may have lost but what it could cost you if you accidentally injured others.

    @JUSTAGUY2: Sorry I missed that, too early.

  13. tasselhoff76 says:

    Well, these are two different types of insurance. I know because I have both. One is liability insurance, to cover you for damages if you injure or harm someone else or the apartment itself. The other is the more traditional renter’s insurance policy that covers you for losses you sustain to your own property. But, again, I know a lot of homeowners that would forgo insurance entirely if their bank did not require them to have it. I am not saying it is smart – I was trying to provide a possible partial explanation for the discrepancy.

  14. Murph1908 says:


    So, I am to put down $250 a year just in case something that happens to the extreme minority of persons happens to me?

    I can get insurance from Aflac to pay me if I get cancer. Should I get that too? I am sure I’d consider $1000 a year to be cheap if I did end up with melanoma.

    Like I said, I am not wholeheartedly on this side of the argument. But insurance, as a whole, is legalized gambling.

    And car insurance is different. For one, it is required by law. Two, though I don’t have statistics to back me up, you have a better chance of getting into a car accident than burning your apartment down or getting burglarized. I know many people who have experience the former, and none who have experienced the latter.

  15. wooster11 says:

    This is the case since typically lender’s require home buyers to get insurance, while most rental places do not require renter’s insurance.
    I’d have to say that renter’s insurance is really cheap, since it only covers your stuff and not the building (The landlord should already have that coverage).
    When I was renting, I didn’t have renter’s insurance for the longest time, but finally inquired about it. I ended up getting it through the same company I had my auto insurance and I totally regretted not getting the renter’s coverage sooner. It ended up being cheaper for me to have renter’s insurance along with auto insurance (2 cars – mine and my wife’s) than to just have the auto insurance alone. I was able to get the multi-policy discount. It wasn’t a huge savings, but a savings nonetheless. It’s totally worth it, typically less than $15 a month.

  16. Nighthawk Foo says:

    When I rented, my renter’s insurance was about $120/year. The discount on my car insurance was almost that much, so it was well worth it, even though I never filed a claim.

  17. FREAKHEAD says:


    All I’m saying is that for the price of a large pizza a month you could save yourself a lot of trouble down the road if something were to happen. I like having the piece of mind.

    Yes we can play the statistics game if you want and I understand your argument, all I am trying to say is that for $10, even less if you get a discount with your car insurance, it’s not a terrible thing to have.

  18. tadowguy says:

    In other news, 2% of the people in the US are really dumb.

  19. madanthony says:

    When I was a renter, the multi-policy discount for my car insurance that I got from State Farm for having renter’s insurance was actually bigger than the cost of the renter’s insurance. So they basically paid me to get renter’s insurance.

  20. JustAGuy2 says:


    Reasonable debate. Generally, you should get insurance against X if (a) the cost of X is more than you can easily bear, and (b) the insurance isn’t a lot more expensive than odds of X * cost of X.

    In the case of renter’s insurance, I find that b’s not wildly out of whack (even if my estimate of the odds is off by 50%, it only means an extra $100 or so per year), and it would be a substantial burden to pay out $100k or more in the event of an accident, or pay $25-50k to replace my stuff.

  21. rjhiggins says:

    Standard renter’s insurance covers only the contents of your dwelling, not liability. So all these scare stories about starting a fire that kills your neighbor, etc. — standard renter’s insurance isn’t going to help you a bit.

    Might be good for Consumerist to explain this better, so renters know just what they’re getting.

  22. alicetheowl says:

    I really kicked myself for not listening to everyone who told me to get renter’s insurance when some jerk set fire to the insulation in the basement of my apartment building. We lost wedding photos, furniture, books and a whole computer because all that stuff was sitting in our basement storage; the stuff in our apartment was salvageable, but badly smoke-damaged.

    While fire and flood is less of a possibility than a lot of risky things that can happen to a homeowner, if it happens to one unit in an apartment building, it happens to them all. So maybe you don’t leave faucets running when you leave the room, or leave candles burning without keeping an eye on them, but what if your neighbor does? Well, if you don’t have renter’s insurance, that’s just too damn bad for you.

  23. catskyfire says:

    I think a lot of renters don’t get renter’s insurance because they think of insurance in the way a lot of homeowners do – When a tree falls on the property, it pays to fix it. And as a renter, that repair cost would belong to the landlord, and his insurance.

    My first landlord put it well. “If the pipes burst, my insurance covers the damage to the building. Renters insurance covers the damage to your stuff.”

  24. JiminyChristmas says:

    Take what I pay for renter’s insurance, subtract what I get for a multi-line discount, and I pay about $2/month for $50K in coverage. Oh, and that includes an additional rider for flood coverage.

    Just look around your place and imagine having to go to a store and replace every last item. It might not seem like a lot at first, because you have been slowly accumulating things over time. But imagine replacing it all at once and it adds up really fast. When I was adding up how much coverage I needed I figured it would take at least $5000 just to replace my clothes.

  25. Catperson says:

    @ RJHIGGINS: Not true. Most renters policies have some liability coverage. As for whether this liability would cover you burning your neighbor’s stuff, I can’t say, but I do know that most policies include liability; they’re not just property damage policies.

  26. scarletvirtue says:

    Okay, now I get to step in as a Devil’s Advocate (read: insurance agent)!

    Renter’s insurance is a good thing. No, really. As others have said, the cost is quite reasonable if you have your renters and auto with the same carrier. And if your car is broken into – don’t look to our auto carrier to pay for the stolen items. They’re only responsible for the car itself and anything permanently installed.

    The broken window? Auto policy. That laptop, digital camera and iPhone that were stolen? Renter’s policy.

    I could go on and on … but I’ll spare you all!

  27. CaptainTex says:


    Who is your insurer? That sounds like a good deal (“$2/month for $50K in coverage”).