Once you move out from your parent's house -- and their insurance -- your stuff needs protection. A normal non-scheduled renter's policy is usually good enough to replace personal property such as clothing and TV in case the person next door starts a kitchen fire, or your apartment or dorm room gets broken into. If you have valuable stuff, a scheduled policy might be what you need.
How Property Insurance Works
Property insurance pays off if something happens to your stuff. Usually, you have to pay a deductible, but once you cover it, the insurer will pay you for anything that gets stolen, damaged or even lost. Be alert to the coverage you're getting, though, because it comes in two types -- actual cash value and replacement cost. Actual cash value means you'll get what your stuff would be worth at a garage sale or thrift store; it's used, after all. Replacement cost coverage, which costs a little bit more, is designed to give you enough money to go out and buy replacements.
With non-scheduled coverage, your insurance company will replace your stuff with two rules. They'll only cover you up to the limits on your policy, and they'll only cover things that you can prove you have. If you don't tell your insurer what you have, it's hard for them to exactly replace it if something happens. With this in mind, it's a good idea to walk through your apartment or dorm room with a smartphone and shoot a video that shows all of your stuff. Taking pictures is a good idea, too. That way, if something happens and your insurer says, for instance, that you don't have a TV set, you can prove that you do -- or at least had one. Receipts also help.
Non-Scheduled Coverage Limits
Most regular policies have limits. If you buy $10,000 worth of coverage and you lose $15,000 worth of stuff, you'll be on your own for the last $5,000. Read your policy's fine print, too. You might find out that you're only covered for small amounts of money on certain valuable items. For instance, your jewelry might only be covered for $1,000, and certain things, like a treasured comic book collection, might not be covered at all.
How Scheduled Coverage Works
You can add scheduled coverage to your insurance if you want. With scheduled coverage, you give your insurer a list -- insurers call it a schedule -- of special items that you want covered. If you have an engagement ring, a powerful gaming computer, a collection of signed baseball cards, or a couple of hunting rifles, you can put them on the schedule. Your insurer will charge you more for the coverage, but if anything happens to a scheduled item, you'll get paid the money you need to replace it.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.