Airman alert: renters insurance

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- In today’s reality you need protection from just about everything, especially when talking about assets and money. The economy changes quickly these days and financial areas of concern are in a constant state of flux, so it is smart to be prepared in the event that something happens to your personal property that could lead to a significant financial impact.

Most people will at some point in their lives experience loss or damage to personal property caused by a fire, theft or flooding event.

This is where having renters insurance can help you out.

Why would I need renters insurance?
So let’s say you’re at work one day this winter, pulling a 15-hour maintenance shift out in the missile complex, and upon returning home discover that the water pipes have burst.

Thanks, weather.

There’s an inch of dank water covering the kitchen and living room floors. The damage to the carpet looks miserable, and whatever is happening to the brand-new wood floors is out of control. And then you see the unimaginable: your new flat screen TV, which had previously been on a low TV console inches above the floor, is now aquatic.

Or, in the apartment next door, the neighbor had a heater plugged in from 1978. Their unit caught fire and so did yours; lucky you.

Bottom line is personal property is going to need to be replaced.

This is where renters insurance can come in handy.
Fun fact; renters insurance must be purchased prior to the disaster for the individual to be covered.

Now, be wise to the various independent companies on the market. Shop around and look for the best deal to see what plan covers which scenarios and what fits into your budget.

Questions to ask include, “Am I covered for a water leak, flooding or both?” or, “In case of a fire am I covered for a home-originated flame or an external fire that lights by my apartment?” Or, “What if my super sweet bike is stolen (aka your bicycle)?”

Some companies may offer discounts if insurance packages are bundled. For example, if you pay your renters and auto insurance together, you may get a deal on both.

What if I live in the dorms or base housing? Do I need to have renters insurance?
If you do not own the unit you’re living in, whether it’s a room, house, dorm, or basement, you’re going to need renters insurance.

Some rental agencies ask for proof of renters insurance during the application process. In some cases not. Before signing any contract read the fine print and ask: do I have to have renters insurance?

Maybe it’s not required. Maybe you decide not to get it. Maybe there’s a theft. Maybe then you have nothing left.

What if I can’t afford the insurance?
It’s likely the cost of the insurance will be less than replacing personal items out of pocket which could include the TV, gaming console, fancy treadmill or expensive computer.

The 341st Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center has financial counselors available who can help weigh the cost of renters insurance and see if the preferred plan is affordable and fits into the current budget.

Do know you’ll take a financial hit even if you have a protection plan. Most insurance companies do not reimburse you for the full value (or the value you paid) for the item lost, destroyed or stolen. Market items depreciate and insurance companies adjust for that and will only pay you back a percentage.

However, if property needs to be replaced but is covered by renters insurance, you will be more likely to bounce back quicker without having too much of a financial impact.

Things just happen.
Sometimes life can deliver a heavy blow. Taking precautions to protect life, limb and property are not only beneficial to the individual but to family and friends as well who may need to help before the event fully settles.

Family, friends, peers, supervisors, first sergeants and commanders do care. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

Be smart. Be safe. Be happy and healthy. Sometimes, it can be easy to get wrapped up in day to day life and forget about the what-ifs of the future, but at the end of the day only the individual can choose to be as stable and protected as possible.
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