disaster

Why It's Important to Get Renter's Insurance

Consumer Reports looked at how it can protect you and your financial security.

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Most homeowners have insurance to protect them when disaster strikes. Fewer renters get insurance, but they still should. Recent disasters, like the deep freeze in Texas, show why.

"I was so shocked because it was literally raining in my apartment," renter Amani Elsawah said. "It was gushing out so much that it started flooding almost immediately."

Elsawah was one of the millions of people who lost power during the deep freeze, but the frozen pipes in her apartment burst, forcing her out of her home.

"I had to leave and find somewhere dry and safe to go," Elsawah said.

Since February she's lived in a hotel and the bills are quickly adding up. However, she had renter's insurance which is paying some of her living expenses and covering what she lost.

"Renters insurance can provide an important safety net if something happens," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Penny Wang.

Not only can it cover damage or theft and pay for living expenses if you're forced to move out, it can also provide liability protection. However, just like any insurance, CR says it's important to check the policy.

"Renters insurance is fairly standardized though coverage can vary based on the insurer and where you live," Wang said. "Make sure you understand your policy -- what's covered and what's not."

CR suggests getting several quotes to make sure the policy gives you exactly what you need. That might be a low deductible, additional coverage for specific types of valuables or electronics, or even hotel stays. Elsawah paid about $20 a month for her policy and says it was money well spent.

"You don't know when you're going to need it until you need it," Elsawah said. "Then once you need it, you're glad that you have it."

CR also recommends doing an inventory of items in your home before disaster strikes. It can be as simple as a video of the important and big-ticket items, along with pictures of serial numbers or receipts. For more on how to do a home inventory, read more here.

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