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Why Military Members Need Renters Insurance

A renter's insurance policy covers your belongings and may provide liability coverage. Renter's insurance is inexpensive and easy to buy.
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Table of Contents
  1. Why All Military Renters Need Renters Insurance (Even in Base Housing)
  2. What is Renters Insurance?
  3. What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?
    1. Renter’s insurance may cover liability
  4. Why is Renters Insurance So Important for Military Members?
  5. Yes, You Need Renters Insurance In The Barracks!
    1. The Military Does Not Cover Personal Property
    2. Theft Rates Are High In The Barracks
    3. Renters Insurance Covers You While You Move
  6. How Much Renter’s Insurance Do You Need?
  7. How Much Does Renter’s Insurance Cost?
  8. How to Lower Your Renter’s Insurance Costs
    1. Use Your Military Discount
    2. Bundle with Other Insurance Policies
  9. Where to Purchase Renters Insurance

The recent changes to BAH have had a trickle-down effect that the DoD may not have anticipated when they initially made the new rules. When making the changes, the DoD decided they would eliminate the renter’s insurance portion of BAH.

Previously, BAH included a small monthly amount to cover renters insurance based on local rates (averaging around $20 per month in most locations).

Since this component of BAH was removed, the US Air Force has removed the requirement for landlords in privatized housing to provide renters insurance at no cost to military renters (this doesn’t affect current leases; only leases made on or after January 1, 2015).

There is no requirement for individuals to carry renters insurance, but it’s incredibly smart to do so – especially when you can often find coverage for as low as $12 per month.

Here are the reasons why every renter needs renters insurance.

Why All Military Renters Need Renters Insurance (Even in Base Housing)

military renters insurance policy

Moving from post to post in the military is stressful. Not only do you have to pack, move, and unpack everything you own (again!), but there’s the financial aspect of the equation as well.

You have to get utilities turned on and off, get your TV service moved, find a new bank or at least change your address with your bank, do the same with your credit card companies… the list can become overwhelming.

And this is on top of your normal 10-12 hour day being in the military.

However, let me caution you on one thing you simply cannot afford to go without no matter how complex and confusing your move is: renters insurance.

This critical piece of insurance can make or break your situation should something terrible happen to your residence. Going without it can cost you dearly; sadly, purchasing it is amazingly inexpensive. (You can get a renters insurance policy for as little as $12 per month).

What is Renters Insurance?

When you rent a home or apartment, the building you are living in is probably insured by the owner. But that insurance is there strictly to protect the landlord and his building, not your possessions or potential liability.

The building will be covered if there is a fire or other damage a tenant did not cause, but the items you have will not be replaced if they are lost or damaged unless you have your own renter’s insurance policy.

Renters insurance is an insurance policy that will replace the contents in your rental unit. Your landlord has his or her own coverage to protect the home’s structure, but that insurance doesn’t protect everything you own.

With renters insurance, if your rental home burns down, you can replace everything you own — your clothes, your electronics, your furniture — up to whatever the coverage limit is.

What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?

The first thing renter’s insurance does is protect your possessions from fire, theft, vandalism, damage, and some natural disasters (you may need to purchase a separate earthquake or flood insurance policy; check with your insurance agent and thoroughly read your policy coverage before signing).

If a fire destroys the building and you lose all your belongings, they should be covered if you have renter’s insurance. Your renter’s insurance policy may also cover items you have away from home, such as a laptop or camera you take with you on vacation.

Be sure to read your policy because some renter’s insurance policies include the full replacement cost of the lost, damaged or stolen items.

Renter’s insurance may cover liability

Some renter’s insurance policies include a liability clause, protecting your interests if you cause an injury to another party or cause damage to another person’s property. For example, you may be covered if your child is playing in the bathtub, they run the water over, and it ruins your floor.

Your policy may also cover you if you have a kitchen fire and the entire building burns to the ground. Not only will it pay for your items, but it may also cover any repairs that need to be made and the other tenant’s property. Without it, you would have to pay for everything yourself.

Renter’s insurance may also cover injuries inside your home or apartment. An injury can be caused by slipping on a wet floor, falling down the stairs, or anything else. It’s better to pay the fees to have the coverage than to pay for the hospital bills that come after an injury.

Why is Renters Insurance So Important for Military Members?

Renter’s insurance is important for every renter, but the point is more dramatic when you consider most members of the military rent rather than own their residences.

Going without renters insurance is financially foolish because of how inexpensive the coverage is monthly compared to what level of coverage you receive.

Imagine if your home burned down and you come home only with the clothes on your back.

You must repurchase everything you own, down to socks and toothbrushes. You’re dealing with the emotional trauma of coming home to a destroyed structure, but the financial cost of going without insurance can have an even larger impact.

Yes, You Need Renters Insurance In The Barracks!

Renters insurance is a critical piece of insurance coverage that every renter needs. It is cheap and easy to obtain. But, many young military members do not think about having renters insurance while living in the barracks. Even if you are single and the federal government provides you with a free place to live and food from the dining facility, you still need to purchase renters insurance to cover your personal property and possessions.

The Military Does Not Cover Personal Property

Like many large corporations, the military is self-insured against losses. If a government building burns down, the United States military has enough capital reserve to simply rebuild it at a later date.

This, of course, is not the same for a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine.

It would devastate most military members to lose everything in a fire. Like renting from a landlord, the military’s good graces and insurance policies only cover the building’s structure. It does not cover any of your personal possessions inside the building.

So, if there is a fire, tornado, or other natural disaster that destroy the building and its contents, your personal property will not be covered unless you have renters insurance.

This goes for those living in any kind of military housing, including on or off-base housing, the barracks or dorms, or transitional housing such as billeting.

Theft Rates Are High In The Barracks

Like living in a college dorm room, the likelihood of being the victim of theft in the barracks is higher than you would experience simply if you lived in an apartment.

There is also a higher chance of theft in the barracks than if you owned your home. There are far too many instances of whether theft can occur, such as roommates you barely know, doors that are all too often left unlocked or open, field exercises where thieves know you’re away, and the list goes on and on.

You need renters insurance to cover your possessions.

Renters Insurance Covers You While You Move

Many military members do not realize that renters insurance also protects your possessions while you are en route to your next duty assignment. Should you have a theft or a fire while traveling, you will be covered with renters insurance.

You may think you do not need renters insurance because you can file a claim against the moving company, but renters insurance will also help you fill in the gaps that the moving company manages to wiggle out of paying.

Inevitably, your damage claim will not cover all of your losses, and renters insurance can help fill in the gap.

The beauty of renters insurance is that it is one of the cheapest types of property insurance available.

For as little as $20 or less, you can have insurance that covers tens of thousands of dollars worth of your property in the barracks. It is a very small price to pay for a lot of peace of mind.

Do not get caught with the incorrect assumption that you do not need renters insurance while living on post in the barracks.

That may be a time when you need it more than ever, and you do not want to be caught short without it.

How Much Renter’s Insurance Do You Need?

Rates and policies vary, so before you sign up for a generic renter’s insurance policy, make sure you get the coverage you need. The easiest way is to perform a home inventory and document all your possessions.

Then you can add up their value. Chances are you will be surprised at their replacement value. This is the amount of renter’s insurance you should buy. Chances are you will be surprised at their replacement value.

How Much Does Renter’s Insurance Cost?

Most renter’s insurance policies are inexpensive. I paid roughly $10 a month the last time I had renter’s insurance., and it’s not uncommon to see similar rates in the $10-15 per month range. 

Rates will vary depending on your policy, location, amount of coverage, additional riders, and other factors, so it will pay to shop around. You can usually save money on your renter’s insurance policy by bundling your insurance with the same company. For example, check with the company that you have your auto insurance.

You should be able to get renter’s insurance through most companies that offer homeowner’s insurance policies, so check there if your car insurance company doesn’t offer it.

Would you pay $150 to replace all of your belongings, should something happen to them? I know I would!

How to Lower Your Renter’s Insurance Costs

As mentioned, renters insurance is cheap for the level of coverage you receive. You can often find renters insurance policies offering $20,000 in coverage for less than $20 per month. That’s only $240 per year to replace every item in your house — assuming it fits under that coverage cap.

If you think $20 per month is too pricey, don’t worry. You can use a few strategies to get a discount on your renter’s insurance:

Use Your Military Discount

Many companies in the United States offer a military discount. Don’t forget to ask for your discount with your insurer (or from multiple insurers if you are price shopping). You might be surprised to find you can get a discount on your military renter’s insurance.

Bundle with Other Insurance Policies

The most common strategy to lower insurance costs is bundling them with other coverages. The same is true for renters insurance. Check with your automobile insurance coverage company to see if they offer renters insurance. You can get renters insurance practically free by combining it with your car insurance.

Where to Purchase Renters Insurance

Multiple companies offer renters insurance. Start with your current insurance provider to see if you can get a discount for bundling your policies. This often provides the best discount.

However, you may find that certain companies offer better deals. You should get several quotes before deciding on which renter’s insurance policy to purchase.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is a Major in the U.S. Army and a writer who focuses on personal finance, investing, and retirement. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and runs the site Money Q&A. His writing has been featured on sites such as The Motley Fool, Military.com, and many others. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoneyQandA.

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  1. Jarhead says

    Renters’ Insurance should be purchased by everyone to include those living in the barracks. Believe it or not Uncle Sam will not pay for the belongings that you have in your barracks if something were to happen same goes with base housing. So unless you own your home and have a homeowners policy you need renters insurnace to cover your possessions.

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