I have been a renter my entire adult life and have been fortunate not to have any reason to make a claim on my renters insurance. So why do I still carry it? Because accidents do happen, unfortunately. Though I've been lucky in the past, this doesn't dissuade me from wanting to make sure I'm covered in case of a mishap in the future. I've heard too many stories about renters who happened to be the victims of natural disasters or crimes and found out after the fact that their landlords' insurance didn't cover their personal property. And that was if their landlords actually had insurance.
While I haven't experienced any crime, disaster, or accident serious enough to warrant using my insurance, I am glad to have it for several reasons.
In the event that your landlord doesn't carry any
Now it might be the law in some states that a homeowner must carry insurance, but that doesn't mean that every homeowner does.
Take my last rental for instance. I was renting a run down house in a very middle class neighborhood. My landlord owned a few rental properties and was somewhat lazy. Not only did he not repair his properties, allowing them to fall into a state of decrepitude, it turned out he didn't even bother to pay his homeowners insurance bill. I only happened upon this information through another one of his tenants who had suffered property loss through an electrical fire. Had that tenant had renters insurance, most of his personal property would have been replaced without the headache of a legal scuffle with the landlord. At that moment, I was ever so glad I had renters insurance.
In case of a natural disaster
Every state in the U.S. is prone to some sort of natural catastrophe, whether it's hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. I just happen to live in Southern California, land of the rumbling ground. I haven't experienced an earthquake large enough to damage property since 1994, yet there's a good chance another will occur in my lifetime. Few insurance companies offer earthquake insurance these days, but my carrier offers it with a high deductible. Even with the large deductible it's worth it since I'll never know when "the big one" might hit.
Because it can cover accidents that happen within your home
Have you ever had a guest fall down your staircase, trip over your cat, or burn themselves on your stove? Your landlord's homeowners insurance will cover accidents that happen around the external perimeter of your rental property, but it may or may not cover accidents that happen within the interior of the property. Having renters insurance with a personal liability rider will cover these types of accidents, leaving you on good terms with your accident-prone friends.
The cost of renters insurance is minimal
Prices are based on the stated value of your personal belongings. For instance, the lower the replacement cost of your personal belongings, the less the monthly payment. When I first purchased my renters insurance policy years ago, my monthly payment was under $20 a month. As I've accumulated valuable furniture and appliances over the years, I've bumped up my coverage but am still paying less than $500 for the year, and that's with earthquake coverage.
The wise saying "it's better to be safe than sorry" most definitely applies when it comes to renters insurance.