Renters insurance pays for lost property in the event of damage or theft.
Most renters insurance policies last for one year and require only one payment, typically around $100.
Dorothy Bernholz, director of UNC Student Legal Services, recommended that students living off campus purchase renters insurance.
“As a general rule, if you aren’t covered by your parents’ insurance, it’s a good idea to get renters insurance,” she said.
Bernholz added that most undergraduates are covered by their family’s insurance policy.
“There are lots of break-ins in Chapel Hill, and there would be nobody to pay for lost property if you don’t have renters insurance,” she added.
Bernholz said many landlords even require residents to purchase the insurance.
In some cases, she said, if students do not get their own renters insurance, the landlord might take out a “forced-placed” policy for just their own property, not the tenant’s and add the cost to the rent.
Bernholz said that tenants do not have to use the insurance provided by their landlord.
“You have a right to get your own renters insurance,” she said.
Bernholz advised students to seek legal advice if a landlord tries to force a tenant to buy renters insurance.
“It’s a very serious legal issue,” she said.
Gina Turner, manager of Townhouse Apartments, said she does not require renters insurance but strongly recommends it.
Turner said students can generally get a renters insurance plan through their car insurance provider at a discounted rate.
Parents can also extend their homeowners insurance to cover a renter policy, Turner said.
“Depending on coverage, it’s fairly inexpensive,” she added.
University Apartments does not require renters insurance either.
“We’re not going to force people to get it,” said Jason O’Quinn, property manager of University Apartments.
“When they sign their lease, they understand that they are waiving our responsibility to their personal property.”
Bernholz said insurance companies can refuse insurance to someone with bad credit.
Companies can also charge more for people living in a high crime neighborhood, she said.
Bernholz said students who don’t buy renters insurance are taking a gamble.
“It all depends on your risk,” she said.
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