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Renters insurance: A not-so-sexy necessity

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The only thing less sexy than renters insurance is losing all your stuff in a fire. (Courtesy Bryan Carmody)
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You know what’s not sexy? Talking about renters insurance. I mean, talking about insurance in general isn’t a sexy thing (unless of course there’s some kind of “sexiness insurance” out there). But in the pantheon of insurances, renters insurance is often ignored. And that’s a damn shame, because there’s something even less sexy than talking about renters insurance: losing everything you own in a fire.

Yeah, this got dark real quick, didn’t it?

There has been a noticeable spike in fires in San Francisco, especially in the Mission. I, personally, know at least three people who’ve lost their homes in fires this year. It’s gotten so bad that Supervisor David Campos wrote about it in the San Francisco Examiner.

“We are at a point in this crisis where reasonable people now believe that arson is playing a part in the rash of fires that are destroying the homes of Mission and Bernal residents,” Campos wrote on June 28. And Campos intimates he might even be one of these rational people. Yet for some reason, most of the people I know don’t have renters insurance.

Let me put this in a clearer perspective for you: If you have a greedy landlord, there is a chance they will burn your damn apartment to the ground so they can collect the insurance money. Your place might also burn down just because it’s old and has crappy wiring. So it’s time to get yourself some renters insurance. And the best part is that it’s hella cheap.

My insurance policy cost me $176 for the year. That’s $14.66 a month! I added the earthquake insurance — because, you know, San Francisco — to it for another $148, which brings my monthly payment to $26.99 a month. Yeah, for less than $30 a month, all my belongings are covered not only if there’s an earthquake or fire, but if they get stolen as well.

Local comedian Lisa Geduldig wrote an article for my website, BrokeAssStuart.com, this week telling her harrowing story of getting burned out of her apartment. Luckily, Geduldig had renters insurance, which covered nearly $60,000 in expenses. In the article, she interviewed her Allstate insurance agent, Dawn Prince, about the importance of renters insurance.

“Renters insurance does more than protect your stuff from fire and theft (on and off premise); it also protects you from lawsuits, provides guest medical, pays for damage to the property of others, and would help pay for additional living expenses if your apartment is ever damaged by fire, wind, hail, water or any covered loss,” Prince told Geuldig. “It’s an inexpensive way to avoid a disaster leaving you with nothing.”

Yes, you read that first line correctly. It even covers your stuff when it’s stolen from a location that’s not your home. So if someone jacks your computer when you’re at a cafe, that’s most likely covered by your policy. And if you’ve noticed the uptick in smash-and-grab crime that’s busting car windows all over The City, you know how important this could be.

So yeah, that’s it. I’m spending my column this week telling you this because I care about you. I mean, what would I do without you dear readers? Please get yourself some renters insurance today. And let’s figure out what sexiness insurance is.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.

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