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Guide to Renters Insurance: When You Need it and When You Don’t

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you’re currently renting, you may not have given much thought to buying insurance for your place. After all, your landlord is the one who owns it. Shouldn’t he be the one buying insurance?

The truth is that while your landlord almost certainly does have insurance, it doesn’t cover all the risks that you personally face. And that’s where renters insurance comes in.

Renters insurance is inexpensive and provides a number of financial protections you can’t get elsewhere. It’s something that just about every renter should consider, and in this guide we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is Renters Insurance?
  • What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
  • How to Get Renters Insurance

What Is Renters Insurance?

If there was a fire in your place, or if someone broke in and stole something, who would be responsible for the damages?

Your landlord almost certainly has an insurance policy that would cover the cost of repairing the apartment itself. His insurance would pick up the tab for fixing or replacing the walls, floors, ceilings, and other structural components of the apartment. He would restore it to the empty apartment that existed before you moved in.

But, of course, you don’t live in an empty apartment. You own most of what’s inside it, furniture, clothes, your laptop, and everything else.

That’s where renters insurance comes in. Renters insurance covers the financial loss you could personally face if your apartment was damaged or burglarized.

Specifically, renters insurance covers:

  1. The cost of replacing your possessions.
  2. The cost of living somewhere else if your rental becomes temporarily unlivable.
  3. Your financial liability if someone gets injured while at your apartment, or if you accidentally injure someone or their property while you’re away from your apartment.

And the good news is that all of that coverage comes pretty cheap. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, renters insurance premiums average just $15-$30 per month, though your specific premium will depend on where you live and what you’re covering.

So, how exactly do each of those protections work? Let’s dig in.

Renters insurance only protects you from certain kinds of damages. These are called named perils, and while every policy differs, here’s a list of common perils that are covered:

  • Fire and lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • Earthquake
  • Explosion
  • Smoke
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Collapse of building
  • Theft
  • Vandalism and malicious mischief
  • Riot and civil commotion
  • Falling objects
  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging
  • Freezing
  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
  • Volcanic eruption

This is just a generic list, and your specific policy may name different perils or define them slightly differently. Whatever your named perils are though, your renters insurance will only cover damages that result from one of those perils that is specifically listed in the policy. If damage results from some other cause, it will not be covered.

Certain types of perils, like flooding, may not be covered by your base policy but could be covered by an additional policy. You’ll have to review the details of your policy to see what is specifically covered, and what, if any, additional perils you may want to insure against.

Now let’s get into the specific protections that renters insurance offers.

Protection #1: Your Property

While you don’t own your home, you do own most of what’s inside of it. And when you add up the value of all your clothes, furniture, electronics, dishes, appliances, and everything else, you probably own a significant amount of property.

If any of that property was damaged or stolen, your renters insurance would help pay to replace it. Your landlord’s insurance would not.

When you buy renters insurance, you buy a certain amount of personal property coverage. For example, you might get $30,000 of coverage, in which case your renters insurance would reimburse you up to $30,000 for damage caused to your personal property. Without that coverage, you would have to foot the bill yourself.

Wisconsin’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance offers a Personal Property Home Inventory form that can help you determine how much personal property coverage you need and create a record that can be used if you ever need to file a claim. Keeping photos of particularly valuable items is also a good idea, just in case your insurance company asks for more proof.

It’s worth noting that most renters insurance policies have coverage limits for certain types of property like jewelry and artwork. For example, it’s common for the policy to limit its jewelry coverage to $1,000 per item.

In that case, you can add a rider that covers specific pieces of property that exceed those limits. So if you have a $5,000 engagement ring, you would have to ask the insurance company to add coverage specifically for that item, which would come with a small increase in premium.

You will also likely have a deductible on your policy, which is the amount of money you would have to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in. For example, a $500 deductible means that you would be responsible for paying the first $500 in damages, and your renters insurance would reimburse you past that amount, up to your total personal property limit.

Protection #2: Your Cost of Living

Let’s say that there was a fire and your home became temporarily uninhabitable. While you wouldn’t be responsible for repairing the house or apartment, you would be responsible for finding somewhere else to live in the meantime.

This is the second big area where your renters insurance would kick in.

Renters insurance has something called loss of use coverage that would provide payments to help you cover that cost. Essentially, it would pick up the tab for any excess expense above what you would normally pay while living in your home.

For example, let’s say that your rent is $1,500 per month and you’re temporarily forced to stay in a hotel that charges $150 per night. That’s an excess cost of about $3,000 per month, which would be covered by your loss of use coverage.

You may also face additional food, utility, and transportation expenses, which could all be reimbursed under that same coverage.

Typically there’s a maximum dollar amount that will be paid out under this coverage and a maximum time limit for payments, and your insurer will likely also set limits on what constitutes reasonable additional expenses.

Payments will end once your home is habitable, once you find a new place to live, or once you’ve hit your coverage limits.

Protection #3: Your Liability

In addition to protecting your property and making sure you can afford a place to live, renters insurance can provide a substantial amount of liability coverage.

Liability coverage protects you from the financial consequences of accidentally injuring someone or damaging their property. And your renters insurance coverage protects you both against incidents that happen in your home and against certain incidents that happen away from it.

For example, imagine that your landlord sends someone to fix your refrigerator and that person trips over your child’s walker and seriously injures himself. That could be a significant financial loss for him, both in terms of medical bills and missed work, and he would have the right to seek reimbursement from you. In that case, the liability coverage on your renters insurance policy would kick in to pay the financial damages and to pay any legal costs you might face.

As another example, maybe you’re out for a walk with your dog and he bites someone. Again, you could be financially responsible for the consequences, and your renters insurance would be there to pick up the bill.

While the odds of something like this leading to a major financial liability are likely pretty small, the potential costs could be high. And with renters insurance you can get several hundred thousand dollars of liability protection for an average of $15-$30 per month.

It’s inexpensive coverage that protects you from the risk of a big financial loss.

How to Get Renters Insurance

If you don’t have renters insurance, how can you go about getting it?

If you already have auto insurance, the easiest way to get renters insurance is through that same company. They will almost certainly provide renters insurance as well, and you may be able to get a discount for having multiple policies with the same company.

But getting renters insurance is a good opportunity to shop around. Because you may be able to get a better deal on both your renters insurance AND your auto insurance by switching insurance companies. We have some recommendations for the best renters insurance, but if you really want to be thorough, you’ll want to do even more homework.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Google “renters insurance STATE”, replacing STATE with your state of residence.
  2. Get a phone number for each of the major insurers providing coverage in your state.
  3. Call each insurance company directly and ask for quotes for both renters insurance and auto insurance. You should have a copy of your current auto insurance policy on hand so that you can get a quote for the same level of coverage.
  4. If you have any possessions that are particularly valuable, such as jewelry or artwork, ask how much it would cost to get additional coverage for those possessions.
  5. Make sure to ask if they offer a multi-policy discount and, if so, to get the premiums quoted with that discount applied.
  6. If there are any particular threats in your region, such as flooding or earthquakes, ask about their coverage of those specific threats.
  7. Compare the coverage and cost from each insurance company, including your current insurer. If you can get a better deal elsewhere, it should be relatively easy to switch.

Other than the work needed to shop around, getting renters insurance should be relatively quick and easy.

Are You Covered?

Renters insurance is one of those things you hope you never need but could pay off significantly if you did. In a worst-case scenario, it would help you replace all of your possessions and maintain a place to live without depleting your savings or resorting to debt.

It’s big protection at a small cost.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Matt Becker
Matt Becker |

Matt Becker is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Matt here

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The States With the Hardest Working Women

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Americans take pride in their work ethic, but do women in some states put more hours into taking care of their finances, families, homes and communities?

To find out, we analyzed microdata from the American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which asks respondents how many minutes they spent performing different kinds of activities during the previous workday. We averaged the responses of women in the categories across non-leisure activities, which include: the maintenance of the home, work or career, caring for family members or other community members, shopping and volunteer activities.

Because not every person participates in every activity, the number of activities spent on these activities may seem low. For example, the average hours spent working across the states is about three hours – a workday that few will find familiar. That’s because not every woman works, and not every woman with a job works full-time or works Monday through Friday. These numbers also account for the fact that plenty of working people go through stretches of unemployment or underemployment.

For that reason, we also looked at the breakdown of the work status of women in each state. Overall, we expect that women who didn’t spend the previous day at a job spent more time doing other things, such as shopping for their households or volunteering.

This is most likely an understatement of how much time women are spent working, because we didn’t include every possible activity — such as time spent on school work, time spent hiring services, or time spent on self-care — and because some respondents may have taken the day off, or even be retired.

Our analysis revealed that depending on regional cultural norms and employment opportunities, the hardest working women in America spend their time serving their families and communities in diverse ways.

Key takeaways

  • Women in North Dakota are the hardest working in America, spending an average of 8.9 hours a day on non-leisure activities.
  • Women in Washington, D.C. and Vermont take the second and third spots, with averages of 8.3 and 8.2 hours, respectively.
  • Women in Arkansas spend the least time on non-leisure activities, at an average of 6 hours a day.
  • Women in Alabama, West Virginia and Louisiana follow closely, each with an average of 6.1 hours.
  • Women in Washington, D.C. and the Dakotas are the most likely to work full time and women in Utah, West Virginia and Idaho are the least likely.
  • Women in Hawaii are the most likely to work for a full year and women Alaska are the least likely.
  • Women in Vermont spend the most time volunteering and women in Montana spend the least.
  • Alaskan women spend the most time on housework (3.7 hours), while women in Washington, D.C. spend the least (1.3 hours). (But they spend the most time at work).

States with the hardest working women

1. North Dakota

While the women of North Dakota may not spend the most time in the workplace, they’re pretty darn close. They spend 4.6 hours per weekday at work versus Washington, D.C.’s average of 4.9 hours. However, in North Dakota, women spend more time at other labor- and service-related tasks in a capacity which their cosmopolitan counterparts in the nation’s capital do not.

Spending more time at volunteer efforts, household tasks and caring for family members, North Dakota’s women come out on top as the hardest working women in America, putting in an average of 8.9 hours per weekday across activities.

This study isn’t the first of ours where North Dakota broke the top 5. In our ranking of the happiest states, North Dakota came in at No. 5.

2. District of Columbia

Clocking in at 8.3 hours per weekday spent on non-leisure activities, the women of Washington, D.C. are generally career-oriented. (Notably, Washington, D.C. landed the top spot in our ranking of the best cities for working women). Washington, D.C. is the only area we’re measuring, however; it’s essentially a metro rather than an entire state, which may skew how we view the data. The population is more urban and suburban than rural, which may lead to different cultural norms surrounding career expectations and the availability of jobs in the first place.

Women in the District of Columbia spend the least amount of time on housework when compared to other women across the country, and also spend comparatively very little time volunteering. They do have the unfortunate honor of spending the most time in the car in order to get these tasks done, falling behind only the women of Wyoming. (While in Wyoming you’re likely to drive long distances with little traffic in order to get to work, the beltway in DC Is the exact opposite: You’ll more likely to spend a lot of time sitting in gridlock to travel shorter distances than you are in other parts of the country.)

3. Vermont

Women in Vermont may not spend as much time at their nine-to-five (3.5 hours per day) as their peers in North Dakota (4.6 hours per day) and Washington, D.C. (4.9 hours per day) but they do spend a significant amount of their time volunteering (31 minutes per day) and caring for those outside of their own family (15 minutes per weekday).

Travel between daily activities is also a prominent time-consuming task for women of Vermont. With 55 minutes per weekday spent commuting between different non-leisure tasks, the state is second only to Washington, D.C. and Wyoming in terms of commute times.

4. Alaska

The women of Alaska spend dramatically more time taking care of the home than women in other states — nearly four hours per weekday. With an additional hour spent on housework per day than any other state, Alaskan women are the keepers of the homefront.

Women in Alaska also spend more time commuting between non-leisure tasks than most (54 minutes per weekday), though not more than the women of Vermont, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

5.  Nebraska

Nebraska women spend almost as much time keeping house (2.5 hours per weekday) as they do in the workforce (3.2 hours per weekday). Time spent volunteering (20 minutes per weekday), commuting (42 minutes per day) and caring for family members (25 minutes per weekday) might not be as high as in some of the other states on this list, but cumulatively, they are enough to get the hardworking women of Nebraska into our top 5.

Hardest working women: Full rankings

Want to see where your state ranks? Here are the full rankings for America’s hardest working women.

A closer look at women in the workplace

Women work hard across all sectors, picking up the slack not only when it comes to earning an income, but also stepping up when the home needs tending to or a family member needs one-on-one care.

All of this work is important, but if you want to see the raw numbers concerning only hours spent in the traditional workplace, here is how the states rank:

Managing your money

Balancing the demands of womanhood is no easy feat. While cultural norms are changing, women are still largely expected to serve in unpaid capacities, such as housekeeper, personal care assistant and personal shopper. When you add employment on top of this, it can be a lot to handle.

While trying to juggle it all, there’s one task that always needs to be on your priority list: Your personal finances. Whether you’re in D.C. and working in a full-time capacity or struggling to find work in West Virginia, you’re going to need to budget. The tools outlined here help automate the budgeting process, saving you time as you evaluate what you can and cannot afford in your busy, day-to-day life.

If you’ve gone a while without budgeting, or you are simply in a bad financial situation due to lack of local employment opportunities, there’s a good chance you’re sitting in some debt. If that debt has become too much for you to handle or is sitting on a high-interest credit card, your financial situation is likely to get worse rather than better. One solution to this problem is debt consolidation.

However you choose to manage your finances and balancethem with other priorities, take time to appreciate the hard work you put in day to day.

Methodology

Using microdata from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, analysts created statewide averages for female for the years 2015 through 2017 in the following categories:

  • Household tasks
  • Caring for family members
  • Caring for non-family members
  • Work and work-related activities
  • Consumer shopping
  • Volunteering
  • The sum of time spent traveling for all the activities above

The work status of women in each state was derived from the Census Bureau’s 2017 5-Year American Community Survey and is limited to women between the ages of 16 and 64.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne here

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The Most Popular Retirement Destinations for Seniors

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Many of us look forward to that sweet day when we’ll never have to set an alarm again. You have no boss, no deadlines and no meetings. Most of us would agree that retirement sounds pretty awesome. Which is why it is so important to plan for it properly.

When it comes time to choose where to live, cost of living and general livability for retirees are typically the two main concerns. In past studies, we have endeavored to look at a cross section of retirees’ concerns, so we can rank the best places to retire. But sometimes, the best places to retire doesn’t always line up with where retirees actually move. We hope to shed some light on senior retiree preferences by finding the top retirement destinations. Here’s a look at the most tempting locations.

Key findings

  • The top 25 retirement destinations is dominated by Arizona and Florida metros. Those two states account for 15 of the 25 metro areas with highest net migration of retirees.
  • The Phoenix metro area was the runaway favorite. This area attracted 19,550 new seniors. Only about 12,421 opted to leave. That left a net influx of 7,129 retired seniors making Phoenix their home.
  • Only two metro areas not in Arizona or Florida made it to the top 10: Milwaukee and Nashville, Tenn. Milwaukee saw a net influx of 3,924 retirees, while Nashville gained 2,831.
  • The busiest and least-affordable metros saw the largest loss of retirees. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco tend to lose those who left the workforce. This exodus of retirees does slightly help balance population crises in cities like San Francisco which lost 2,731 retirees.
  • Weather and a sense of “affordability” aren’t the only factors attracting retirees. Florida and Tennessee in particular, and Arizona to a lesser degree, have extremely retiree-friendly tax laws. Florida does not tax any kind of retirement income and has relatively low property and sales taxes. Likewise, Tennessee does not tax social security income, which, apart from the BBQ and music, may explain why Nashville is a top 10 retiree destination.
  • California experiences the biggest loss of retirees. Of the 18 California metro areas we analyzed, 14 saw a net decrease in retirees.

Most popular retirement destinations

Phoenix stole the number one spot that retirees are flocking to. But if you prefer less desert and more beach, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida came in second place. If you’d take a lake over a beach any day, Lake Havasu City in Arizona made its way into the top 10. And thanks to their low cost of living, midwestern cities may be the perfect place to spend your golden years.

If the top 10 is sounding a little crowded for your taste, you could hop on over to the Pacific Northwest. Slightly less popular – but still highly ranked – is Portland and surrounding metro areas in Oregon and Washington. The Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area in Oregon and Washington ranked 11th place. And Eugene, Oregon was also highly ranked as the 19th most popular retirement destinations for seniors. We have to say, Portland has a pretty stellar reputation. We found in a previous study, that Portland ranks seventh as one of the best places to live in America if you’re looking for a balanced lifestyle.

The South is looking mighty appealing too. Of course, plenty of spots in Florida made the list, but so did Nashville, Tenn. Who’s ready for some BBQ? If you desire even more southern charm, check out the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin region of South Carolina.

Humidity got you down? Golden coast California didn’t make it into the top 10. Hint: high real estate prices. But sunny San Diego ranked 23rd, which is not too shabby.

Least popular retirement destinations

The New York metro area ranked number one in our list of the least popular retirement destinations for seniors. Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles didn’t fare too well either.

Dream locations like Honolulu, Hawaii, and Orlando, Florida didn’t rank as highly as one would think. And on a not so surprising note, bustling metro areas full of workers bees weren’t desirable spots either. Apparently, there is a lot less need for early bird specials in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Seattle and Chicago.

Be prepared for retirement with these tips

Preparing to retire is a big financial undertaking. One you should take seriously and plan for. Consider these tips as you prep for retirement.

Take advantage of catch-up contributions: If you find yourself over the age of 50 and getting ready to retire but fell behind on saving money, you may want to take advantage of catch-up contributions. Usually, the maximum contribution limit to a 401(k) is $18,500 and to an IRA is $5,000. But for those over 50 years of age, catch-up contributions are more flexible, allowing those total contribution limits to be $24,500 and $6,500, respectively.

Adjust your budget: Tightening your budget so you can see how you’ll live on your new income can help you prepare for the adjustment to life in retirement. You may want to consider saving for unexpected expenses like travelling, assisting family and friends and the potential need for medical care or the option of living in an assisted living facility.

  • The 4% withdrawal rule: Generally you’ll need to withdraw around 4% from your nest egg each year. This means that if you have $1 million saved for retirement, you would withdraw $40,000 each year for costs like food and medical supplies. This is just one way of looking at the expected cost of retirement.
  • 75% of income rule: You can also follow the principle of the 75% of income rule. This guideline advises that you should spend between 75% to 85% of your current annual income each year in retirement. Generally your expenses drop after retirement, so ideally this should be enough income for you to live comfortably.

Review and pay off debt: Taking care of debt before you retire is something to seriously plan for. Seniors with credit card debt have a net worth worth of 43% less than those without credit card debt. The high interest rates associated with credit cards can destroy nest egg income.

Because the average credit card interest rate is 14%, seniors who have credit card debt (on average, $4,786) will pay an average of $670 every year for interest charges. With the average investment portfolio not earning more than 8% every year, seniors will on average earn only $4,508 from their portfolio. Sadly, this means that credit card interest can eat up more than 15% of a nest egg income.

Methodology

Data comes from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). In order to rank the top retirement destinations for seniors, researchers looked at two metrics. Specifically we looked at the number of residents over 65 who were out of the labor force who moved into a metro area and compared it to the number of over 65 residents who were out of the labor force who moved out of a metro area. Those two numbers were then combined to create a net migration figure. This study is ranked based on that net migration figure.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco |

Jacqueline DeMarco is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jacqueline here

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