Should You Buy Renters Insurance?

How to compare policies and choose the right one for you.

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To determine the value of your belongings, conduct a home inventory and estimate replacement costs. According to Hunter, "people tend to underestimate the value of their stuff." Be sure to include electronics, furniture, jewelry, musical instruments, sports equipment, and any outdoor items, like lawnmowers or patio furniture. If you're able to videotape a walkthrough of your apartment, also capture the serial numbers on the back of your electronics.

The Insurance Information Institute offers a free online home inventory tool at knowyourstuff.org, and some insurance companies offer similar tools, like the Allstate Digital Locker. Remember to update your inventory as you acquire new items.

For cost-conscious renters, Worters suggests asking about discounts through your employer or professional association. Insurance companies also offer discounts for having features like a security system or smoke detector in your apartment or for having multiple insurance policies like renters and auto insurance. The higher your deductible, the lower your premiums, but remember that you'll have to cough up the deductible if and when you need to file a claim.