Protecting your valuables — the pros of renters insurance

Erik Hansen is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Policy and the “When I was a Mustang…” columnist.

Few things can screw with your day like Bishop Peak inexplicably blowing its top and washing all of your belongings away in a glorious tide of molten hot magma.

Far less exciting, though still annoying, is coming home to see that your computer has been stolen, drawers rummaged and piggy bank emptied.

While it can’t replace the porn you’ve been methodically downloading to your computer for the past three years, if you’re a renter, renters insurance can help defray the cost of replacing your pinched Justin Bieber memorabilia that’s now being hocked at the Nipomo Swapmeet.

If that alone doesn’t  have you running to a local insurance agent, here are a few more reasons why you should consider covering your ass(ets).

Renters insurance protects your stuff. Imagine for a moment that you have pissed off Zeus, he tosses a lightning bolt at you, it strikes your house and it catches fire and burns down. Totally plausible, but who really cares, right? You don’t own the house and technically, it wasn’t your fault.

But what about your television set? That’s something that you do own and now it’s a pile of ashes. No worries, renters insurance will help you pay for a new one so that you can watch the Dodgers lose all season long.

Renters insurance protects your way of life. From acts of the Gods to ungodly acts, imagine now that a honey badger sneaks into your apartment one night and pillages. While your home is completely torn up and every female dog and cat within a quarter-mile has been impregnated — due to the honey badger’s unbridled masculinity — renters insurance will pay for any additional living expenses that you may incur while your apartment is repaired.

Renters insurance protects you. If one of your drunken friends slips, falls and fractures their femur while on your rental property, if they are a true red-blooded American, they will sue you — and maybe your landlord if they’re greedy. The same thing goes for when one of your friends screws around with your dog and it decides to take a chunk out of their arm. While there is nothing more patriotic than suing someone else for your own stupidity, renters insurance can protect you from legal action.

Renters insurance can also protect what you say. While we’re on the topic of lawsuits, suppose you have a blog where you callously rank all of your past girlfriends/boyfriends by appearance, performance, etc. Maybe you include pictures and contact information just because you are the very definition of a jerk. You’re just asking for a defamation lawsuit. Have renters insurance? Well then, while the blog will probably have to come down, renters insurance can prevent them from touching your bank account.

Luckily the renters insurance is cheap. You can get basic coverage for as low as $10 a month, which is partly due to the relatively safe area we live in. You might also be eligible for certain discounts — much like drivers insurance —if you are a good student, employed or have good credit. Even better, you can get a policy and add your roommates to it. For just a couple bucks more, all of your stuff will be covered and you can split the $12 a month premium between the four of you.

If your parents have homeowners insurance, you might even be able to get coverage for your rental property — as a rider — on their policy.

If you do decide to purchase renters insurance, consider adding coverage for loss due to earthquake, tsunami and flooding, as we live in an area “prone” to such events and they probably won’t be covered under a basic plan.

In addition, make sure you know the difference between “cash value” and “cost to replace.” While you can get coverage under either scheme, cash value will only pay you the value of your items at the time of loss, while cost to replace will pay you the entire cost to replace your lost items.