Renters insurance a helpful tool

Students could consider insuring their belongings in their residences.

New Apple MacBook Air computer: $1,800. Bianchi bicycle with bright green tires: $1,000. 52-inch flat panel HDTV: $3,000. Knowing your things are protected in case of theft or loss: priceless.

Since theft is the No. 1 reported crime in University-area neighborhoods, according to the Minneapolis Police Department, students can be protected by renters insurance.

Maple Grove Allstate Insurance agency owner and 22-year agent Mike Docter said the average price of renters insurance is $10 to $15 a month.

Factors affecting the price of the coverage include: loss history, age, location of residence, credit history and desired amount of coverage, he said.

The insurance prevents financial losses due to theft of personal items like computers, jewelry and electronics. Items left in a car are covered, as are bicycles, regardless of where they are parked.

Docter said one interesting provision in renters insurance is loss of use coverage, which provides a place to stay if a residence is destroyed or damaged in a fire or natural disaster.

“You’ll be paid to go stay in a hotel, or get into another apartment until you find a new place or until your place gets cleaned up and is livable again,” he said.

Students who are dependent on their parents and live in on-campus housing such as dorms and University-owned apartments are often covered by their parents’ homeowners insurance and don’t need rental insurance coverage, Docter said.

In addition to large items, Docter said expensive jewelry can be specifically insured. He said, for example, a ring that goes down the drain can be replaced.

Bill Dane, a University Student Legal Service staff attorney, said renters insurance can be confusing when problems occur.

“Lots of times there’s confusion about who covers what,” Dane said. “The one thing that we know for sure is that a landlord’s house insurance, on a rental property, isn’t going to cover tenants’ individual property within the house, and tenants’ renters insurance isn’t going to cover a landlord’s loss.”

Dane also said, with a little self-evaluation, a student may be able to figure out if he or she needs renters insurance.

While bicycles are covered, Dane said motorized scooters aren’t, and must be covered by auto insurance.

Area apartment complexes, such as Dinnaken Properties, 1301 University and Bierman Place, do not include renters insurance in their leases, but vice president of Dinnaken Properties Yvonne Grosulak said the apartment strongly suggests renters purchase it.

“We do recommend it. I think most landlords do,” Grosulak said. “It’s a smart thing to do in case something does happen.”