Do I Need Renters Insurance in Seattle?

Renters Insurance
August 31, 2021
couple in the kitchen looking at paper bill with laptop

Insuring your new home is a no-brainer. You have too much at stake to not carry adequate coverage. But what if you’re renting? The place isn’t even owned by you, so why would you purchase renters insurance? Are you required by law to do so?

According to the Pew Research Center, these are all important questions since more Americans rent their housing than at any time since at least 1965.

It’s not legally required to buy renters insurance in Seattle or anywhere in the state of Washington, for that matter. However, some landlords require that you carry such a policy before they rent to you.

And even if all of that wasn’t true, obtaining affordable renters insurance is always the smart thing to do. Let’s take a closer look at what renters insurance is, what it typically costs, and why it’s so critical.

Real-Life Reasons to Get Renters Insurance in Seattle

There are endless good reasons to get renters insurance. Consider the following realistic scenarios just for starters:

  • You live in a multi-unit building, and a neighbor (or even a tenant on another floor) smokes in bed. Or a young child in another unit plays with matches. Whatever the cause, while your apartment escapes the flames, there’s smoke damage that destroys electronics and ruins mattresses, bedding, and clothing.
  • A hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flooding, lightning storm, or other natural disaster causes extensive damage to the home you’re renting and most of its contents.
  • You live in a ground-floor apartment in a safe neighborhood, but someone crawls in through an unlocked window and steals valuable computers, cameras, and stereo equipment.
  • Your stove malfunctions while you’re cooking in your duplex. The entire house catches fire, and your upstairs neighbor sues you for the resulting destruction of virtually everything they own.

You aren’t at fault in all of these scenarios, but it will nonetheless cost you significantly—unless you own renters insurance.

Won’t My Landlord’s Insurance Cover Me?

The answer is that your landlords’ insurance policy protects their property, not yours. So your landlords will bring in a locksmith to install stronger locks if your place gets broken into. They’ll repair or replace the furnace and water heater when they stop working. They’ll put on a new roof, replaster the walls, and replace electrical or plumbing systems after a natural disaster. All of this should happen at no cost to you.

What their insurers won’t do is replace your stolen computers, destroyed furnishings, or smoke-damaged clothing. And the landlord’s policy won’t cover your legal and settlement costs if you’re successfully sued for the damage that a fire started in your unit.

Nor will your landlords’ insurer pay to put you and your family up in a hotel or short-term housing for the weeks or months that it might take before you can get back into your home or apartment after some calamity hits.

Sure, you might hire a lawyer and successfully sue the neighbor or other party responsible for the damage if it’s the fault of someone identifiable. Still, it could take months or longer to get a settlement if you win, or at least if the defendant has insurance or can afford to pay.

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

young happy couple carrying boxes into new rented apartment

Those who have cheap renters insurance find protection in these three general areas:

  1. Your personal possessions and the cost of repairing or replacing them if they’re damaged, destroyed, or stolen
  2. Liability protection if you’re sued for damage to the property of neighbors because of incidents that start in your unit
  3. Your housing expenses if you must temporarily leave the space you rent until it can be repaired

It’s easy to see the importance of having financial protection in each of these three areas, and you might be surprised to find that it’s actually not expensive to carry this sort of coverage, despite how valuable it is.

Renters Insurance can Cost Pennies a Day

Renters insurance in Seattle, and the rest of the country, is incredibly affordable. As of 2018, the average cost for this coverage in the U.S. was just $179 a year. That breaks down to around half a dollar a day.

Types of Renters Insurance You can Buy

There are two main types of coverage you can buy. First, actual cash value policies pay up to the current value of the item that must be replaced. So if your couch is ten years old, your policy would pay for what a couch of that age and brand would cost.

Second, replacement cost coverage pays what the actual cost would be to replace the item. So if your three-year-old laptop was stolen, you’d receive what it would cost to buy the new version of that same model. Replacement cost coverage is more expensive than actual cash value policies, but only by about ten percent. Those few additional dollars might well be worth it.

Find Cheap Renters Insurance in Seattle

Vern Fonk Insurance is here to help you find the right renters insurance for your needs and budget. Start your Seattle renters insurance quote online, over the phone by calling us at 1-800-455-8276, or at one of our offices near you.