How much renters insurance do I need? Learn how to calculate a home inventory


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UPDATED: 2020-03-27T15:27:51.787Z
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A young woman creating a home inventory for her apartment on her laptop.

One of the ways to protect your finances is to get the right insurance — and that includes getting renters insurance if you rent your apartment.

Your renters insurance policy can protect your finances in the event that your personal items are destroyed or if you have to live elsewhere if your rental becomes unlivable due to a natural disaster or other event.

How much renters insurance do I need?

Let’s take a look at deciding your coverage amount and how to inventory your home. The amount of renters insurance that you need depends on your budget situation as well as how much it would cost to replace your possessions. In general, however, renters insurance starts at a relatively low cost — as low as $6 per month.

In addition to protecting your personal belongings from perils, renters insurance also includes liability coverage if anyone were to be injured in your apartment. When looking at renters insurance, you should also consider the amount of liability coverage included in your policy. If something happens at your rental that your landlord isn’t liable for, having around $100,000 in coverage might be a good start.

Deciding how much coverage to get for personal possessions is a different story, however. In order to figure out how much renters insurance you need to cover items you own, you need to conduct a home inventory.

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How to inventory your home

Creating a home inventory is fairly straightforward, but it can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never listed out your possessions before. A home inventory will help you keep track of the items that you own, as well as help you determine how much renters insurance you need based on how much money your items are worth. Here are some basic tips for organizing your home inventory:

  • Organize by room or area: Pick an area, such as your closet, or a room, like your kitchen. It can feel overwhelming to get started, but if you start with a contained section of your home, it’s a little easier. Plus, it will be easier to report if everything’s already organized.
  • Record basic information: Each item should have a description that includes what it is and what you paid for it. If you still have receipts, keep those in a safe place or snap a picture of them to keep with your inventory.
  • Lump similar items together: For example, with clothing, you don’t want to list each item separately. You might say you have five pairs of jeans and seven sweatshirts and list the total cost of those items. This also works for kitchenware, including dish sets and pans.
  • Check for serial numbers: Appliances, electronics and other bigger-ticket items often have serial numbers. Record those since they often come with information that can be used later to help you make a better claim.
  • List valuable items separately: Depending on the item, some very valuable items might not be covered by a standard renters insurance policy. In those cases, you might need to purchase separate coverage. Make sure these items are properly recorded and covered. If you’ve had an appraisal done, keep that paperwork safe or take a picture of it.
  • Inventory items in storage: The items that you keep in storage are also covered by renters insurance, so take some time to go through your storage unit and record those items.
  • Do it a little at a time: Don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once. Consider starting with more valuable items or things that would be most expensive for you to replace. Then, add to the inventory a little at a time.
  • Keep up with your home inventory: As you buy new things, automatically add them to your home inventory so you don’t fall behind. Once you get used to adding new items, you’re more likely to stay on top of things without a great deal of effort.

One quick and easy way to complete a home inventory is to get out your phone and walk through the rental recording items and describing them. This can serve as a temporary inventory, just in case. Be sure to store the video to the cloud using your email or an app like Dropbox so that if your phone were to be destroyed, you could still access your video.

Use a home inventory app

One of the easiest ways to manage your inventory is to use a home inventory app. These tools are designed to help you sort your items and record them for later. In addition to listing your items, you can include pictures or videos with your home inventory. This is a good way to further boost your case when you file a claim with your insurance provider.

A good home inventory app can guide you through the process of getting everything that you need recorded for the future. Some apps allow you to attach pictures of receipts or appraisals to the appropriate items to help with documentation. Here are some ideas for home inventory apps:

  • Sortly (free): With this app, you can organize items and attach pictures (including images of serial numbers and barcodes). An upgrade allows you to sync with the cloud and costs $4.99 per month.
  • Encircle (free): This app allows you to add unlimited photos and descriptions of all the items in your home.
  • Nest Egg ($4.99): Features of this app include the ability to categorize items, scan barcodes, and sync your home inventory with other devices.
  • Home Inventory ($39.99): This is a comprehensive home inventory app that offers you the ability to add notes, details, and images to your item list. Plus, this app also helps evaluate your situation to recommend the right level of renters insurance coverage.

Don’t forget to check with your renters insurance provider to see if they offer a home inventory app. It might make sense to use their app to facilitate the claim process.

The Bottom Line

How much renters insurance you need depends largely on what you can afford each month — and whether you can afford to cover your losses through an emergency fund. Start with how much it would take to replace everything if your home were to be destroyed and go from there.

When searching for a renters insurance company, be sure to evaluate the coverage options available, features the company offers, and the price of a policy. Consider getting multiple renters insurance quotes so you can compare them to find the best value.

Begin your search by visiting Clearsurance’s live renters insurance company ranking of the best companies in your zip code according to consumers in your area.

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