Massachusetts may not be famous for tornados or earthquakes, but being a coastal state leaves us vulnerable to storms that blow in from the Atlantic – especially around Boston and the Cape. And everyone in the Bay State is familiar with blizzards, no matter which part of the state you live in.
The aging wooden triple deckers that so many Massachusetts renters call home are one of the best reasons to get renters insurance. They’re famously flammable, and sharing the building with two other floors means you’re only as safe as your least reliable neighbor. Triple deckers typically have very little distance between them as well, so fires can quickly spread from house to house.
Your landlord has insurance that covers the building, but protecting the stuff inside is up to you. There’s a lot to protect, too – the average renter has $20k in stuff in their apartment. The good news? Massachusetts renters insurance is extremely affordable, with policies starting around just $8 a month. Most people will pay less than $15, which is hard to beat, value-wise. You can cover your possessions for less than you spend on a night at the movies.
More than just your stuff. Renters insurance has four main parts, listed below.
Personal property coverage protects the things you own, up to the coverage limit you choose, along with some category limits. With Quilt, Massachusetts residents can buy up $100,000 of personal property coverage online in minutes. Covered items include…
There are some special category and item limits, so make sure you get enough coverage for your needs. That’s especially true if you have one or two really valuable items, like an engagement ring or expensive watch. Let us know and we can add extra protection for those items with an endorsement.
If a covered peril makes your apartment uninhabitable, renters insurance will help pay for a place to stay while repairs are made.
Personal liability coverage protects you from lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage. If someone trips in your apartment and breaks their ankle, this will help pay for legal defense and judgments. The standard Massachusetts renters insurance policy comes with $100,000, but higher limits are available. Generally, the more you own or the more you earn, the more liability insurance you need.
Related to liability, medical payments coverage will pay up to $1,000 in medical bills of someone who’s injured on your property. It’s important to know it won’t pay for medical bills for you or anyone who lives with you, since that’s what health insurance is for.
In the insurance world, a peril is anything that causes a loss, like tornados, fires, and theft. Which perils are covered and which aren’t depends on your insurer and the policy you choose, so it’sextremely important to look at more than just the cost when you’re buying renters insurance. When it comes to insurance, price and value are very different things. Massachusetts renters insurance policies sold through Quilt come standard with coverage for the following perils:
Renters insurance covers a lot of things, but it doesn’t cover everything. Earth movement, like earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes aren’t covered, but if an earthquake causes a fire or explosion, it would be. You can add coverage for earth movement to your policy with an endorsement, although Massachusetts isn’t exactly known for its tremors.
Most water damage is also excluded. If a pipe bursts or a fire sprinkler goes off, renters insurance will cover it, but floods, tidal waves, or sewer backups require flood insurance, which is a separate kind of policy. You can check out this article for more info on why, plus tips on purchasing flood insurance, which is something we recommend – especially if your apartment is in a flood plain.
Power failure is also excluded, depending on the cause. A renters policy covers you and the place you live, not the power grid, so widespread outages aren’t covered. But if the outage is caused by damage to your building, it’s covered. Other notable exclusions include war, government action, and neglect.
Which discounts are available depends on the company you choose. Quilt’s partner for renters insurance offers the following discounts in Massachusetts:
There are two ways insurance companies use to figure out how much your stuff is worth when they pay a claim. The first is called replacement cost value, or RCV. With RCV, you get the full amount it costs to replace your stuff with items of the same kind and quality, minus the deductible.
With actual cash value (ACV) policies, you would only be entitled to the replacement cost minus depreciation. That means you might not be as covered as you think. If you have a two year old laptop, an ACV policy would deduct the two years of use you got along with the deductible. How much is deducted for depreciation depends on a lot of factors, but the bottom line is that you won't get enough to replace the items you lost.
The renters insurance policies Quilt sells all come standard with replacement cost value. It costs a little bit more per month, but it's worth it. If you ever have to file a claim, you'll be made whole again.
There’s no Massachusetts law that mandates renters insurance, but many landlords and property management companies require tenants buy a policy before renting an apartment, especially around Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Worcester, and Springfield. That’s because renters insurance comes with personal liability coverage in addition to covering your stuff, so if someone gets hurt at your place, your policy can help pay for legal defense and judgments.
Less than you might think. The exact price depends on where you live, how big your place is, how much stuff you need to cover, and a couple other factors, but most Massachusetts policies are between $10 and $20 a month. Not to brag, but we think that’s a pretty great deal.
It’s the amount you need to pay before insurance kicks in. The amount varies depending on where you buy your policy and what you choose. At Quilt, we decided on a standard low deductible of $500 for our renters policies, which is on the low end. You could save a little money by going with a $1,000 deductible, but you’d have to have over $1,000 in damage to file a claim. We think $500 is the right balance of affordability and protection.
It really depends on your situation. If you live in on-campus housing and your parents have renters or homeowners insurance, you probably don’t need one of your own. Both kinds of policy provide some coverage to dependents – typically 10% of the total value. So if the family has $40,000 in coverage, the student would be covered up to $4,000, which should be enough for a dorm.
For students living off-campus, the answer really comes down to how valuable the furniture, clothes, and electronics inside the apartment are. A parent’s homeowners or renters insurance won’t necessarily apply, so getting a separate renters policy might be a good idea.
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