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A recently-reduced 3-bedroom at Gramercy Starck A recently-reduced 3-bedroom at Gramercy Starck
As a renter, insurance may not be at the top of your concerns, but in most leases, if you read all the fine print, there will be a clause indicating that you must purchase renters insurance. If you have any doubts about its necessity, consider what might happen if you don’t have renters insurance.

 

 

Why and When to Purchase Renters Insurance

 

In January 2018, a walkup on West 157th Street suffered a massive fire after a toaster malfunctioned. The Washington Heights fire wasn’t just any fire—it took more than 200 firefighters and seven hours to get the blaze under control. A year later, one former tenant, Zachary Kussin, a real estate reporter for the New York Post, wrote about the fire and its aftermath. Kussin owned a modest $300,000 home in the building and had insurance, which is required for owners, but some of his neighbors, including several families living in rent-stabilized units, did not have insurance. For them, the past year has been a different story.

 

One of Kussin’s neighbors, who had spent the previous 38 years living in her rent-stabilized two-bedroom unit in the building, lost 90 percent of her belongings to water damage. After the fire, she was first moved, along with her daughter and mother, to a Days Inn in Long Island City. Eventually, she was moved to a single-room-occupancy building in Harlem—care of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Without renters insurance, Kussin’s neighbor has been just a step away from homeless for the past year. At present, she doesn’t have access to a kitchen, which means burning through about $75 a day on takeout food, and spending another $224 per month on storage for the few belongings she did manage to salvage from the fire. When she does move back in, she will need to refurnish, and this will also be out of pocket.

 

Kussin concludes his article with firm advice for renters—get insurance. He’s right. In February 2020, The Fire Department of New York City (FDNY) estimates that there are 2,200 structural fire calls each month in New York City, many impacting residential rental units. But fires aren’t the only reason one needs insurance. As many renters discovered following Hurricane Sandy, flooding can do just as much damage as fire. But bear in mind that you’ll need separate insurance in the event of a flood since floods are generally excluded from both home and renters insurance policies.

Insurance Photo via Flickr cc

How to Select a Renters Insurance Policy

 

To begin, when you purchase renters insurance, you’re purchasing insurance to cover the belongings inside your home only. The building owner also must have insurance—their insurance covers the actual structure, including any appliances, but it will not cover your belongings. The good news is that because you’re just covering your belongings and the not the actual structure, renters insurance is remarkably inexpensive. In fact, you might be able to purchase renters insurance for less than $20 monthly.

 

What Your Renters Insurance Will Cover and Under What Conditions

 

Generally, renters insurance only covers belongings in your home (clothing, art, electronics, furniture and so on). While $50,000 may be adequate, some renters will opt for a policy that covers much more. In most cases, however, unless you have a valuable art collection, a policy in the $50,000 to $100,000 range should be adequate. In addition, some policies cover liability. This means that if someone is injured in your home, they can’t sue you. Finally, many renters insurance policies cover additional living expenses (e.g., a place to stay in the event that your home is no longer inhabitable after a fire or other insurable event).

 

Also bear in mind that there are specific “events” under which renters insurance is applicable. Most renters insurance policies, commonly known as HO-4 policies, cover the loss or destruction of personal belongings from 16 specific events: fire or lightning; windstorm or hail; explosion; riot or civil commotion; aircraft; vehicles; smoke; vandalism or malicious mischief; theft; volcanic eruption; falling object; weight of ice, snow, or sleet; accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam; sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or building; freezing; and the sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current. Renters insurance does not generally cover earthquake or flood damage.

 

Explore Providers

 

Most insurance companies offer renters insurance, and as already noted, it can be remarkably inexpensive. Also, unlike many other types of insurance, you can typically purchase renters insurance online without any home visit or inspection.

 

Find Out If You Qualify for Bundled Insurance

 

If you already have another form of insurance—specifically, auto insurance—you can likely bundle your renters insurance. Depending on your provider and the amount of renters insurance you wish to purchase, this may cost little as $15 per month.

 

How to Access Your Renters Insurance When Needed

 

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your insurance, but if you do, a few things to bear in mind. First, before disaster strikes, create a detailed list of all the items in your home—the more detailed the better. If you have any big ticket items (expensive items of furniture or art, ensure you have a digital record of the receipts and appraisals for these items). Second, contact your insurer as soon as possible—the process can take time. Third, be aware of your policy’s specific terms. Depending on the policy, you’ll either receive a payment for the replacement value of the item or items you’ve lost or a payment based on the actual cash value of your belongings (e.g., if you have a television set that is a decade old, you’ll only be insured for the value of a decade-old television set and not a new one).

While New Yorkers may not require renters insurance due to volcanic eruptions, there are many other conditions under which insurance may be required. Given the low cost of purchasing a renters insurance policy and high cost of replacing one’s personal items if and when a fire, theft or other insurable event occurs, every renter should treat renters insurance as a necessity rather than option.


Notable Newly-Discounted Listings

From the Listing: Very glamorous duplex in the heart of the Upper East Side. This apartment is unique, sun-flooded and great for a family and for entertaining. It is available July 1st (or potentially sooner). The 4th floor has three bedrooms, 2 renovated baths, and a new washer/dryer. The 5th floor is sun-flooded and loft-like with a skylight and a wood-burning fireplace in the Living room. The Dining room can seat 10 easily. There are two small balconies on the fifth floor and a great private south facing terrace on the roof. Sorry no elevator. No board approval needed. Call for an Appointment. See floor plan and full details here.

87 Saint Marks Place
From the Listing: =Welcome to 87 Saint Mark's Place, a small, beautifully maintained Coop building in the heart of the East Village. This studio is very unique in both style and size and features its own dining area which looks out onto a lovely, sun-filled garden. See floor plan and full details here.

(Compass)
From the Listing: This sprawling three bedroom, three bathroom property is not to be missed! Beautifully renovated with a W/D in unit! Amazing opportunity to live in a full service condo with PS 6 right around the corner and many private schools near by. The Charles House is a full-service condominium right off of Madison Avenue. Amenities include a 24-hour doorman, fitness room, garage, planted roof deck with sweeping park views and live-in resident manager. SORRY NO PETS FOR THIS UNIT. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: AVAILABLE NOW! Here is your chance to rent a magnificent 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment with backyard access in Bedford Stuyvesant. You can enjoy a colorful sunset from your outdoor space and it is great for entertaining friends and family. This apartment is gorgeously laid out with wide plank hardwoods floors, an abundance of closets throughout, a dishwasher, oversized windows for great morning sunlight, a nicely tiled bathroom, and spacious bedrooms. Sorry, no pets are allowed. Tenants pay gas and electricity. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Unbelievable space at Gramercy Stark: 340 E 23rd Street! Welcoming you home to this huge 3bed/2.5Bath with private balcony! See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Indoor/outdoor living at its finest within this dramatic loft-proportioned 4-bed, 3.5 bathroom, a sprawling 2408 square feet of corner living with cinematic city views. Comprised of 10-foot floor-to-ceiling windows. this home has a unique 300sqft sunflooded West-facing terrace that stretches approximately 60-feet with expansive city vistas, including a perfect Chrysler Building view. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: A luxurious 3-bedroom and 3.5 bathroom, 2,490-square feet plus 504-square feet of terrace residence boasts stunning views of the Hudson River and Empire State Building. The residence 8C at Walker Tower features a large entry gallery and abundant closet space including the walk-in kitchen pantry. The custom Smallbone kitchen features marble and limestone countertops, wine cooler and under-counter refrigerator/freezer drawers by Sub-Zero, an induction cooktop, wall oven, and warming drawer by Viking, speed oven and built-in coffee maker by Miele and a Franke Water Filtration System. All bathrooms have custom marble details and the master bathroom features a freestanding cast iron bathtub, a steam shower, heated towel racks. Washer and Dryer laundry closet, High-ceiling, and beautiful herringbone flooring throughout. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: No Fee! No Security Deposit for qualified applicants through Rhino! Now offering 2 months complimentary + Amex gift card equal to 1 month's rent!Advertised rent is based on the gross rent $3,375NE reflects 2 months complimentary and Amex gift card equal to 1 month's rent. See floor plan and full details here.

From the Listing: Welcome to your new home! This quintessential townhouse is situated on a quiet tree-lined, Upper East Side street-lined inviting townhouses. The building stands out like the bastion of a castle among other townhouses. Wainscoted walls grace the lobby, and just half-flight of stairs up to the main floor of this mint condition duplex apartment, one is greeted by a foyer of herringbone flooring with a double coat closet. The living room with 9-foot ceilings and recessed lighting is framed by beautiful wooden casement bay windows that allow views from North to East and West. Behind you, is a beautiful spiral staircase, and beyond that is a powder room, a dining area, and a beautifully windowed kitchen with brand new, solid wood, antique white, kitchen cabinets. See floor plan and full details here.

Additional Info About the Building

 
Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.