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Is renters insurance worth it? Many tenants overlooking potentially crucial option

Is renters insurance worth it? Monthly payment could help tenants save big
Is renters insurance worth it? Monthly payment could help tenants save big 02:07

BOSTON – Now that September 1 has come and gone, many college students and other Boston renters are getting acclimated to their new apartments.

But before they could even move in, renters had to pay first and last month's rent, a security deposit and some even had to pay a lock fee before they could get their keys. At that point, a mention of any other kind of expense might seem just plain old unfair.

But - there is one more item certainly worth your money in the long run - renters insurance. The key is to not have to find that out the hard way.

"I was just finishing up dinner with my grandpa, and I got a call from my maintenance guy," Elizabeth Spann Vanlanen said.

It was certainly not the call Vanlanen wanted to receive on her trip back from Texas.

"And he goes, 'Did you guys turn off the heat because you guys have, your house is like 20 degrees and your pipes are starting to burst," Vanlanen told WBZ-TV.

Vanlanen said that was just the beginning.

"The house was uninhabitable because we couldn't use water. We had no fridge," she said.

At this point the now senior at the University of Kentucky said she was In full panic mode.

"Where am I gonna stay? Well, what's going to happen?" she remembered thinking as this was all unfolding. Fortunately, she had renters insurance.

According to a survey conducted by Zillow, only 50% of current and prospective renters have renters insurance.

One out of every four say they didn't have it because they didn't know enough about it to know if they really needed it.

"What many renters don't realize is that their landlord's insurance is not protecting their personal belongings," said Emily McDonald, Zillow Rentals trends expert.

McDonald says this means if you end up in a situation like Vanlanen and your belongings are ruined because of a burst pipe, having renters insurance is crucial.

"My insurance company like helped, and they replaced all my items that were damaged. And they also gave me housing, for I believe it was about, I think it was 10 days," Vanlanen said.

The college senior said she's glad her parents were adamant about her having rental insurance.

She said the five girls living with her didn't have renters insurance. The total damages ended up being between $3,000-$4,000.

McDonald said renters insurance is easy and inexpensive, especially compared to any potential fees you could end potentially face, due to unforeseen circumstances down the line.

"I think that renters, especially if it's their first time. Don't know what they don't know yet," McDonald said.

McDonald said you can even purchase a renters insurance policy through the Zillow app. But there is a myriad of other options, that average between $15-$30 a month.

"I would definitely just say, if you're on the edge of getting rid of insurance, definitely get it. It can save you time, money, extra stress," Vanlanen said.

Whether you're renting an apartment, house or condo, your landlord's insurance doesn't cover your personal property.

It's also important to note that there are two different types of renters insurance policies - personal property and liability, which protects you if there ends up being a claim or lawsuit against you if someone gets hurt in your rental.

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