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Why that vacation social media post might raise the risk of robbery... here's how

Darla Mercado

Your friends aren't the only ones checking out your beach photos on Instagram — so are the thieves who are plotting a break-in while you're away.

A recent survey by Assurant, a provider of property-casualty insurance coverage, found that close to 40 percent of renters posted about their escapades while they were still out of town.

The insurer polled 1,000 renters.

"It's not their intention to announce that the apartment is vacant, but wait until you get home and reduce the risk of the wrong person finding out that you're away," said Steve Hein, senior vice president of multifamily housing at Assurant.

"Two-thirds of burglaries happen while you're not home," he said.

Here's what you need to know about renter's insurance.


Uninsured

Close to half of the participants said they didn't have renter's coverage.

About a third of the respondents believed that their landlord or property management company would be responsible for damage and liability protection.

Your landlord isn't on the hook for damage to your belongings. You are.

While the person who owns your dwelling likely has landlord insurance to protect him or her in the event of property damage, it's your responsibility as the tenant to obtain renter's coverage to address your items within the home.

"A lot of people think about the TV or the computer, but don't think about the things you might need to replace in case of fire," said Hein. "Think about what's in your bedroom and your closet, your kitchen items."

Renter's coverage also offers some liability protection in the event a guest is injured in your home and then sues you.

A policy that will provide $100,000 in liability coverage and $10,000 in replacement cost coverage for your belongings with a $250 deductible will cost about $160 a year, said Hein.


Buying coverage

Shop around for policies and get to know the terms of what an insurer will offer you.

  • Take an inventory: Reach the appropriate amount of coverage by ensuring that you consider all of the items in your dwelling. If you have an engagement ring or art in your home, you'll likely need a rider to cover those items, in addition to the renter's policy.
  • Understand the claims process: How much you'll get paid in the event of theft or damage will depend on the approach your insurer takes toward claims settlement. Will your company pay actual cash value — the depreciated value of the item when the damage occurred — or will it pay the replacement cost — the money you need to outright replace the item? The latter is preferable.
  • Don't forget additional costs: Find out how your policy addresses additional living expenses, which are the extra costs you might face in the event your home is uninhabitable due to a natural disaster. Your policy might include coverage for hotel stays, meals and more.

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