Solid Marks for Gabi Insurance Review

When it comes to my 401(k), daily alarm clock or, yes, even my rotisserie chicken, I’ve embraced the set-it-and-forget-it mantra. But for car insurance? You’re doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t shopping for better car insurance rates at least once a year.

That’s what makes tools like Gabi so helpful. In our Gabi insurance review, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of using an insurance comparison tool, instead of directly working with insurance agents, when shopping for new car insurance rates.

What Is Gabi Insurance?

Gabi Insurance is a newcomer to the insurance scene. The San Francisco insurance company was founded in 2016, four years after The Zebra (another car insurance comparison site that I had mixed feelings about; get the full scoop in my Zebra car insurance review). While Gabi is known primarily for its auto insurance quotes, users can also rely on Gabi to compare insurance providers for renters insurance, home insurance, condo insurance, landlord insurance and umbrella insurance. (I could not find an option for life insurance.)

Gabi is a fully licensed insurance broker in 50 states plus the District of Columbia, meaning they can underwrite, price and sell policies and handle claims. It also means that, when you generate quotes on the site, you can buy directly on the site. One of the issues with sites like The Zebra is that, after generating your auto insurance quote, you’d have to leave the site and go to the actual insurance company’s site to complete the process.

Gabi works with more than 40 top insurance agencies to help you find the best rate for your car(s), driving history and budget. Among those insurance companies are Nationwide, Travelers, Progressive, Clearcover and Safeco.

Gabi claims it saves drivers an average of $961 per year and can provide quotes in a matter of minutes. It’s time to test those promises.

How Gabi Works: A Review

Getting your Gabi insurance quotes can be relatively painless, depending on the route you take. You have three options:

  1. Don’t provide any of your current auto insurance information.
  2. Provide your car insurance login information.
  3. Upload a PDF of your current auto insurance policy.

Because I’m private by nature (and because I just had the pleasure of dealing with a fraudulent unemployment claim in my name), I was hesitant to provide any login information. I first tried to advance without providing any information, but as we’ll see, this doesn’t get you very far. Eventually, I uploaded a PDF of my policy.

To get a quote for Gabi insurance, you start here.
To get a quote, your journey to cheaper car insurance starts here.

Getting started is easy. First you’ll make your decision re: providing insurance information or not (more on that below). Then you’ll enter your name. (Like I did when reviewing The Zebra, I started the process with the very real, honest name of Joe Schmoe.)

This screenshot shows a portal where Gabi insurance asks what your email is. The reviewer typed in Joe Schmoe.
Mr. Schmoe as he signs up for car insurance quotes.

After providing your name, Gabi will ask for a handful of other contact info: birthday, address, whether you own or rent your home, email address and cell phone number. When asking for the email address, Gabi promises your information is never sold or shared. The Zebra says something similar, yet Geico conveniently sent an email to my inbox addressing me as Joe just minutes after I hit submit on The Zebra’s site.

Gabi Insurance asks for your email address in this screen shot.
Gabi says they won’t share or sell your info; thus far, they’ve held up their end of the bargain.

Contact update: As of two hours after creating my account, I have received one text and two emails from Gabi, but none from any third-party insurance providers. Could it be that Gabi is telling the truth when they say they won’t share or sell your data?

To Provide Insurance Info Or Not to Provide Insurance Info? That Is the Question

That’s what Hamlet said, right?

As I mentioned, in my first attempt at using Gabi’s car insurance comparison platform, I resisted their pleas for my personal info. “They don’t need to know anything about me to build a quote tailored to me,” I foolishly asserted.

But when I got to the magical part where Gabi was supposed to tell me I’m a schmuck who has been paying too much for auto insurance, I was instead given a list of common insurance companies, all with blue buttons that said “View My Quote.”

“Surely I must just click each and see a quote at the ready, despite the platform having no knowledge of my car, driving history or policy preferences,” I told myself. Oh, Joe Schmoe, what a fool you are.

Gabi Insurance shows various options that can help you save money in this screen shot.
When you don’t provide your current insurance policy to Gabi, this is the type of screen you can expect to see.

I quickly learned, upon clicking into Liberty Mutual, Allstate and Progressive, that giving Gabi such limited info meant the site would merely direct me to individual insurance companies to provide more detailed personal information to generate a quote.

That’s right: In that instance, Gabi serves no purpose, because you must start from scratch on every insurance company’s site to compare.

If you’re unwilling to provide either your login info for your current insurance company or a PDF of your auto insurance policy, then Gabi is not right for you.

In the name of research, I decided I was comfortable enough downloading a copy of my policy from Allstate and then uploading it into Gabi. While it does have some personal data within it, my email and password were still safe with me.

It took only a few seconds for the artificial intelligence on Gabi’s site to read my policy and tell me in intricate detail what those pages contained. (This is either really convenient for insurance shoppers or a warning sign that robots are just days away from taking over.)

From there, I was able to input more personal information about myself as a driver, my partner (who is also on my policy) and our car. I tried to remove my partner for a good five minutes just for kicks and eventually gave up. Later on, I learned if I had just waited a few more clicks, I would have had the option of toggling secondary drivers on and off. If Gabi had made that clear, it would have saved me time and frustration.

Actually generating my quotes did take about a minute, which is notably fast. However, I had just used The Zebra a few days before, and that experience was faster, so Gabi seemed slow by comparison.

The Car Insurance Quotes I Got from Gabi

I was pleasantly surprised to see a few insurance agencies whose names I recognized among my top results. And the savings were quite large.

Gabi provides more insurance companies that can help you save money.
My top auto insurance quotes from the Gabi insurance comparison platform.

My top quote came from Stillwater and would save me $622 a year. I was dubious upon seeing that, so I clicked into the “View Details” portion of the quote and did find some discrepancies. The largest: My property damage coverage dropped from $500,000 with my current policy to $100,000 with this potential new policy.

Still, the changes were so minor that it ultimately felt like a good deal. But buyer beware: You shouldn’t necessarily expect your current policy and quoted policy to be one-to-one. Go through and make sure all the coverages you want are still represented by the new policy.

Quotes two and three purported to save me $573 and $468 a year, respectively, but again, those quotes weren’t an apples-to-apples comparison with my current policy, as some of the coverages differed.

That said, all three quotes were large improvements over my current auto insurance. My current auto policy is bundled with my homeowners insurance and thus linked to my escrow, so I’ve got some calls to make, but I can safely say I will be using Gabi again soon to find a better bundled policy for auto insurance and home insurance.

What We Like About Gabi Insurance

Clearly, as someone who has just publicly stated he’ll be using Gabi to generate a real quote down the road, I’m a fan. Here’s some of what I liked about Gabi:

  • You don’t have to leave the site. If you find a quote you like, you are able to purchase the insurance on Gabi’s own platform, as long as you are in the United State, since Gabi is a fully licensed insurance broker.
  • It’s got an easy-to-read gauge during the process. It’s a small thing, but I can’t breeze past a good website UX when I see one. I found Gabi’s top-of-the-page tracker for percentage of completion to be a nice touch, especially for a site that is all about efficiency in generating a quote.
Gabi shows how far along you've made it in the process.
Gabi makes it easy to see how far along you are in the process.
  • Uploading my policy was easy. Assuming you want your new coverage at the same or similar levels you’re used to, you can get a quote in minutes by uploading your current policy.
  • You can bundle home insurance with auto insurance. I currently bundle my auto and home coverage, and I would like to continue. It’s convenient to have all my insurance policies in one app, and it earns me discounts.
  • I would legitimately save money. While I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, Gabi could deliver real savings over the course of a year from one of several different insurance companies. More than $600 for me; Gabi truly means it when they promise to find the best insurance company for your needs.

What We Don’t Like About Gabi Insurance

I may be a new Gabi fanboy, but that doesn’t mean I’m onboard with the entire experience. Here’s where I found the car insurance comparison platform fell short:

  • There isn’t an option to describe the policy you want. Gabi pushes you into a scenario where you have to hand over your current insurance account login information or uploading a copy of your policy. If you’re strict about who has access to your data, this could be problematic, as it’s the only way to get quotes to compare on the site.
  • It can sometimes take days. Though I did not provide my login information, some customers have complained that it could take up to two days (depending on the current insurance provider) for Gabi to get into the account and grab the relevant information. That takes the speed out of the process that is supposed to be a hallmark of Gabi.
  • The policies I was provided weren’t perfect matches for my current policy. And Gabi wasn’t upfront about this. I had to do some digging to realize that, by opting for the No. 1 policy choice, some of my coverages would be reduced.
  • They required my cell phone number. I understand needing my number if I decided to move forward with one of the policies, but for the general comparison purposes, I don’t think customers should have to input their numbers.

What Customers Are Saying About Gabi Insurance

Overall, I had favorable opinions of Gabi, but I wanted to see what other customers were saying about the company.

I started with Better Business Bureau and was actually shocked to see that, despite having a BBB rating of an A-, it has an average 1.77 out of 5 stars based on 22 customer reviews. Ouch.

Reviews on the Better Business Bureau website were largely around problems with the actual Gabi service, but some have said working with customer service is not a pleasant experience either, whether due to agent miscommunications or just generally slow customer service response time.

These poor customer reviews are notably absent on Gabi’s site, where it instead shows off its 4.8 out of 5 stars based on “third-party verified reviews” that are certainly not at all curated to paint a favorable picture.

Gabi does score well in terms of its mobile app. In the App Store, it currently has a 4.1 rating. I could not easily find it on Google Play.

The Bottom Line

So should you try Gabi? If you are actually ready to make the switch to a new car insurance provider and don’t mind a little leg work, absolutely. The Zebra is easier since you don’t have to relinquish your personal information, but I found The Zebra to be dishonest about its spam policy, frustrating to use and not really much of a money-saver. With Gabi, you’ll have to actually take the time to give the platform access to your current policy, but in doing so, big savings and an easy sign-up process could be on the horizon.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. 

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Zebra Insurance Review Reveals Good and Bad

Kids these days may never know the pain of spending hours pouring through web pages to generate various auto insurance quotes or (gasp!) having to actually call and talk to insurance agents about what kinds of premiums they could offer. That’s because of the advent of car insurance comparison sites like The Zebra. Our Zebra insurance review shows the site is a good place to start your search but it may not have all the answers you need.

How The Zebra Got Its Stripes

The Zebra was started nearly a decade ago, back in 2012, building off the astronomical success of Google and mirroring the structure of travel sites such as Priceline, Hotwire and Kayak. The difference? The Zebra allows users to compare rates for insurance. The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and as part of its “All Stripes Are Welcome” mantra, is very focused on diversity and inclusion.

Initially, The Zebra specialized exclusively in auto insurance (and this Zebra insurance review is primarily concerned with The Zebra’s performance in the realm of car insurance providers), but in recent years, the insurance comparison company has branched out to renters insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance. And on the horizon: RV insurance, boat insurance and more.

Since its inception, The Zebra website has produced more than 6.5 million insurance quotes. Currently, The Zebra’s provider partnerships total more than 200 car insurance companies, including big names like USAA, Progressive, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, All State, Erie, Esurance, Nationwide and Metlife. The Zebra promises that it has no allegiances to any auto insurance providers, though my experience (detailed in the next section) suggests otherwise.

Fun Fact: Last year, The Zebra became the first U.S. employer to cover employees’ pet adoption fees. (No zebra adoptions permitted — yet.)

How The Zebra Works: A Review

Getting a car insurance quote from The Zebra takes fewer than five minutes. In fact, I was able to generate three sample auto insurance quotes in under 10.

Ready to see your personalized auto insurance rates? Here’s what you’ll need to input on the site:

  • Your ZIP code. To begin the process, The Zebra needs to know where you live. Car insurance laws and policies vary from state to state, so it’s important to choose the state in which you are actually licensed. (So if you’re going to school in Kentucky but still have Mom’s address in Ohio, you’ll technically need to use your mother’s ZIP code back home.)
  • The basics. After inputting your ZIP code, The Zebra will want some basic details. You’ll need to specify whether you have auto insurance, whether you own or rent (and type of home) and why you are shopping for car insurance.
  • Your vehicle details. Not only will you need to input your year, make and model, but you will also need the trim details. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also need to know which engine or drivetrain you have, as some automakers include those in trim distinctions. If you need to insure more than one vehicle on the policy, you have the option to add up to four more. Next, you need to input information about that vehicle: whether you own or lease the vehicle, how you use it and the number of miles you drive each year.
  • The drivers. To start, fill in the information about yourself: first and last name, birthdate and address. Then, you’ll need to specify gender (Note: Despite being a company that prides itself on diversity, The Zebra currently only has options for “male” and “female”), marital status, credit score range*, level of education, how long you have been continuously insured, current insurance provider, bodily injury limits of your current coverage and details about any accidents or tickets you’ve received in the last three years. If you indicate that you are married, you must include information about your spouse. You also have the option to add others to your auto insurance policy, such as domestic partners or children.

*Credit score options include Excellent (720+), Good (680 to 719), Average (580 to 679) and Poor (below 580). The Zebra prompts you to select “Good” if you don’t know your credit score, but you better believe that they will be pulling your credit score before actually letting you sign on the (digital) dotted line.

After inputting your information, The Zebra will take a few moments to calculate auto insurance quotes for you. Each time I generated a quote, I was shown results in ascending order of price, with the cheapest on top. (Each time, Progressive also had an unpriced quote at the very top of every fake quote I generated, which seemed to be a sketchy paid placement. So much for that no allegiance thing.)

A progressive ad appears.
This “ad” appeared at the top of every search that was conducted.

Once you have your auto insurance quotes, you can use the “Explore quotes at $XX/$XX bodily injury limits” link at the top to customize whether you view their Minimum, Basic, Better or Best coverage options. That’s helpful for those who like to be hands off, but if you want to customize your coverage beyond that (perhaps you want everything provided in Basic coverage but want to add roadside assistance, which doesn’t kick in unless you upgrade to Better), you’ll have to work with each insurance company directly.

This screen grab shows steps to building your policy.
Being able to select a level of coverage is nice as a starting point, but I wish you could then go in and further customize to your liking.

For each quote you are provided, you can see the name of the insurance company and the price in a big blue bubble. If you want more information, you can click the small “What’s covered” language, which I missed when creating my first two insurance quotes. The bright blue is definitely meant to draw your eyes so you immediately click into the quote without reading the fine print: a solid user experience decision or shady business practice? The jury’s out.

When you expand “What’s covered,” The Zebra does an excellent job of providing an overview on — what else? — the Overview tab. On the left is a paragraph about the auto insurance company for those who prefer their information that way while the right is for visual learners, with brief phrases about the benefits of the insurance policy and helpful iconography.

The “What’s covered” pop-out also has tabs on coverage and pricing. The coverage tab shows you whether this quote includes auto insurance options such as bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist bodily, uninsured motorist property, personal injury protection (PIP), collision (and its deductible), comprehensive (and its deductible), roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.

Here is where The Zebra could really be improved; I’d love to be able to see that the policy I’m looking at has, for example, a $1,000 deductible for collision and comprehensive and no coverage for rental reimbursement and then be able to edit to my liking. Then, the associated rate would dynamically update to reflect that change. Alas, that is not offered.

Finally, the pricing tab shows policy length, the first month price, how much you’ll pay in future months and the pay-in-full price.

Sample Quotes from The Zebra

To understand what the insurance comparison experience and pricing were like with The Zebra site, I created three auto insurance quotes: one for single 30-year-old Joe Schmoe, one for elderly married couple Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke and one for young college student Minerva McGonagall (because why not).

Quote #1

The first quote, for Joe Schmoe, was built off my own data:

  • Own a house
  • 30 years old
  • Owns a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek that is fully paid off
  • Unmarried
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male
  • 5,000 miles a year (I’ve been working from home for three years, and my odometer is happy with that decision)
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless billing and auto-pay

Here were the top auto insurance quotes this profile generated:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

These insurance rates are in line with what I currently pay, so The Zebra seems right on the money here. But as far as its claim that it can save me money on my current auto insurance rate? Not so much.

Quote #2

For the second quote, I used happily married Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke:

  • Own a condo
  • Early 60s
  • Making payments on a 2020 BMW 7 Series (they have expensive tastes)
  • Married
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male and female
  • 12,000 miles a year
  • Master’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless, auto-pay and pay in full upfront

This couple received the following auto insurance quotes:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

Quote #3

Finally, Minerve McGonagall, who is putting herself through school, input the following details for her auto insurance quote:

  • Rents an apartment
  • 22 years old
  • Makes payments on a 2009 Chevy Cobalt
  • Unmarried
  • Average credit score
  • Female
  • 15,000 miles a year
  • One accident and two tickets on her record
  • Some college but no degree yet
  • Discounts: Employed full-time and paperless billing (is not comfortable with auto-pay)

The Zebra generated these quotes for this driver:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

The Zebra claims it can save drivers up to $670 a year on auto insurance. That, I cannot verify. I can only share that what The Zebra quoted me is in line with my current insurance rate, so I wouldn’t get any savings.

What We Like About The Zebra

The Zebra’s insurance comparison is certainly an excellent tool to get a sense for what you will need to pay for insurance and compare quotes. At the least, you can use the information from The Zebra to make an informed decision when shopping for insurance directly with providers.

Here’s what I liked about The Zebra

  • It was fast and easy to get my quotes.
  • It detailed the discounts I was eligible for. Discounts include the following: paperless delivery, multi-vehicle, auto-pay, safe driver, pay in full, currently insured, currently employed, low mileage, excellent/good credit, and homeownership.
  • It provides a good foundation for your research.

What We Don’t Like About The Zebra

That said, there was a fair amount I didn’t like about The Zebra:

  • The Zebra works with over 200 auto insurance companies, but I probably couldn’t name more than 10 car insurance companies myself. Some of the companies suggested to me were brands I’d never heard of, and when it comes to something as important as car insurance, brand recognition is important to me as a shopper.
  • I couldn’t customize my coverage. If you are the type of savvy shopper who knows how much insurance you need and the exact deductibles and add-ons you’d like, this tool isn’t for you.
  • The Zebra patently lies about spam, and I have the receipts to prove it.

My Experience with The Zebra and Spam

I don’t like to give my email address out to just anybody (call me old-fashioned), so I was apprehensive when completing my fake quotes. But I’m a millennial consumer who knows the deal so I entered my email address.

Besides, The Zebra assured me they wouldn’t spam me. No, really:

A saying that says they won't send you spam.

But as soon as The Zebra had generated my quotes, my phone lit up with the sound of unwanted communication. It took just seconds for two emails to enter my inbox:

Spam from Geico.
It was at this moment that I realized I’d have to come clean about getting my first quote as Joe Schmoe in my review.

I did read online in a Better Business Bureau thread that, at one time, The Zebra used to require phone numbers for a quote and would immediately place spam phone calls (sometimes before users could read the quotes they were just provided), but The Zebra acknowledged that this was less than ideal and has since removed the phone number requirement in its auto insurance quote process.

What Customers Are Saying About The Zebra

So The Zebra’s insurance comparison site didn’t seem right for me, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not a great resource for others. At the least, I do maintain it’s a good tool for preliminary research. Perhaps I’m just old-school, but I want to do more digging and customization on my own to make sure I’m getting the best deal.

But all in all, The Zebra has wonderful customer reviews. It’s got a great score on BBB (an A, currently) and a 4.8 out of 5 overall satisfaction rating on Shopper Approved (with 1,683 5-star reviews out of 1,989 ratings total, at time of writing). Across the board, customer reviews on Shopper Approved highlight users’ satisfaction with The Zebra’s products, price and customer service.

With that said, it’s worth giving The Zebra a shot, if only to see what kinds of quotes you might get and then supplement with additional research. And if you’re worried about the spam, here’s a tip from a friend: You can still see the quotes even if you provide a fake email.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Do You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment? Pros & Cons

It’s increasingly common for landlords to require tenants to carry renters insurance coverage. That’s understandable, as renters insurance limits landlords’ liability for potentially costly mishaps, like a building visitor landing in the hospital after sustaining an injury on the premises. It may absolve them of any financial responsibility for tenant possessions damaged or lost to fire, water leaks, vandalism, and certain other events covered by the policy.

Even when it’s not mandatory, renters insurance has direct benefits for tenants. But it isn’t free. A starter policy with high deductibles and relatively low coverage limits costs in the neighborhood of $150 to $200 per year. Higher-end coverage costs $300 to $500 or more per year, according to Insurance.com. For frugal, careful renters whose landlords don’t demand coverage, that cost might be too much to bear.

Before rushing to purchase a policy you might not need or writing off renters insurance as unnecessary, take a few minutes to consider the benefits and drawbacks.

Pros of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance has some clear advantages, including possible protection from liability, discounts for bundling it with other types of insurance policies, and limited protection from negligent landlords.

1. It’s Not Limited to the Possessions in Your Apartment

When you hear the term “renters insurance,” you probably envision a policy that reimburses you for personal belongings that are lost, damaged, destroyed, or stolen within the confines of your apartment.

This is a key function of renters insurance, but it’s not all it entails. Renters insurance has three distinct components:

  1. Content Coverage. Virtually all renters who carry insurance hold a content insurance policy (also known as personal property coverage) that covers TVs, stereos, computers, furniture, and other valuable items that stay in the rental unit. Content insurance also covers items you keep in your car, provided the vehicle is registered in your name and at your address. If your car is burglarized overnight or while you’re out of town, your policy may reimburse you for the theft of any covered items within it.
  2. Liability Coverage. Renters insurance also protects you from liability issues that may arise in the course of your tenancy. If a guest sustains an injury during a fall or as a result of an accident at your home, your renters insurance policy’s liability coverage may cover the cost of a potential lawsuit, associated legal fees, and/or the guest’s medical bills. Likewise, your policy may cover the cost of fire or water damage sustained by other tenants in your building due to faulty plumbing, outdated wiring, leaky floorboards, and other hazards that originate in your unit.
  3. Loss of Use Coverage. Finally, your policy should cover (or at least provide you with the option to cover) temporary relocation and living expenses you may incur if your apartment becomes unlivable due to fire, flood, or structural damage. This is known as “loss of use” coverage.

Comprehensive renters insurance policies typically include all of these components, while lower-cost policies may exclude relocation coverage.

2. You Can Save by Bundling It With Other Insurance Policies

Your apartment likely isn’t the only thing you’d like to protect. For example, if you own a car, you’re legally obligated to carry auto insurance on it. These days, you’re also required to hold a health insurance policy. Depending on your age and family situation, you may have life insurance as well. And if you own particularly valuable items, like precious jewelry or original artwork, you may need customized policies to cover them.

The good news is that a renters insurance policy can be (and often is) bundled with other insurance types at a significant discount. Virtually every major insurer offers a multipolicy discount, or a premium discount for carrying more than one insurance policy with the same company. Since many renters also own cars, bundling rental and car insurance policies is common.

The discounts can be impressive. For instance, Liberty Mutual claims applicants can save upward of $800 when they bundle home and auto insurance policies. Other insurers offer similar discounts on a case-by-case basis.

3. It Protects You From Landlord Negligence

Imagine this: You head home from work, looking forward to a relaxing evening of eating takeout and binge-watching Netflix. But as you approach your apartment building, you realize something isn’t right. Fire trucks and cop cars surround the entrance, and a thin cloud of smoke rises from the roof.

Eventually, investigators determine that a decades-old circuit shorted out, triggering a chain reaction along some old faulty wiring that caused a fire on your floor. The building isn’t destroyed, but your apartment has been ruined by smoke and heat. Your electronics are useless, and your furniture is irreparably damaged.

Time to put your life on hold? Not if you have renters insurance. Even though this incident is clearly the fault of your landlord, you’d be on the hook for the cost of replacing your damaged possessions without sufficient renters insurance coverage. Your landlord’s insurance covers the unit’s structural components and appliances — and furniture if the place came furnished — but it doesn’t extend to anything you own.


Cons of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance has some notable drawbacks, including higher costs to cover valuable items and significant restrictions on coverage without purchasing add-ons (riders) at an additional expense.

1. Collections or Specific Valuables May Require Additional Coverage

Renters insurance covers the cost of replacing everyday personal property and equipment, but it always comes with a coverage limit. This limit may be as low as $5,000 or as high as $500,000, and it generally doesn’t cover novel or valuable possessions.

For example, if you store multiple pieces of jewelry in your apartment, your renters policy might not cover them (even a regular old engagement ring might not fit the bill). If you have extensive collections of records, stereo equipment, shoes, artwork, or even rare books, you might also be out of luck.

You can still cover these items, but it will cost you. You’ll need to purchase a rider — a supplementary policy covering specific items — or a separate, specialized property insurance policy for high-value items like jewelry. For instance, Allstate offers a scheduled personal property insurance rider that allows you to exceed its standard per-item coverage limit of $1,500 for specific named items with higher intrinsic or replacement value.

2. There Are Coverage Limits and Exclusions

If you’ve ever been in a car accident that wasn’t covered by your auto insurance policy, you know that simply carrying insurance doesn’t necessarily free you from financial or personal liability. Depending on your deductible size, you must make some out-of-pocket payments before your coverage kicks in.

Before you take out your renters insurance policy — and for as long as you keep it — you need to expend some effort to maximize the chance it will deliver when the time comes.

First, take a careful look at your coverage limits and exclusions. According to State Farm Insurance, the average renter owns personal property (property not covered by their landlord’s insurance policy) worth about $35,000. If you’re “average” in this regard, you’ll need at least this much coverage to insulate you against a total loss. It might also be a good idea to take on additional coverage if you anticipate making big purchases in the near future.

It’s crucial to mind coverage limits on specific product categories as well. You shouldn’t expect standard rental insurance policies to cover high-value items, such as $5,000 rings and $10,000 stereo systems. The cost of riders or scheduled property protection can add up quickly. To minimize the cost of a rider or supplemental policy, purchase it at the same time — and through the same insurer — as your main renters insurance policy to qualify for bundling discounts.

It’s also critical to understand what renters insurance doesn’t cover. Like homeowners insurance, rental insurance is stingy about paying for flood damage and sewer problems. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, ask your insurer whether you’d be covered in the event of a flood. If you won’t, look into supplemental flood insurance policies, which may be subsidized by state or federal programs.

For example, if you occupy a ground-floor or basement apartment that’s prone to flooding or damage from sewer backups, your renters policy may not cover associated cleanup costs. Your insurer should offer supplemental “sewer and drain” coverage. Ultimately, however, you’re reimbursed for a specific insurance claim may turn on events that aren’t wholly within your control.

3. “Replacement Value” Coverage Can Be Costly

When you take out your renters insurance policy, you must choose between a “replacement value” policy and an “actual cash value” policy. In the event of an accepted claim, a replacement value policy reimburses you for each lost or destroyed item’s value at the time of purchase (so be sure to save your receipts). An actual cash value policy, meanwhile, reimburses you for each item’s depreciated value.

Depreciation calculations are complex and difficult to generalize. But as a rule of thumb, electronics such as computers and TVs tend to lose most of their value within three to five years. More durable items like couches, tables, and jewelry may retain their value for longer.

4. Credit Issues Could Increase Your Insurance Costs

One of the lesser-known consequences of a bad credit score is the potential for higher rates for auto and property insurance. Renters who have solid credit scores (about 660 to 680 and up) generally pay less for comparable policies than those with suboptimal scores.

This can be a problem for renters required to carry property insurance or who seek the peace of mind that comes with coverage. Of course, you’re free to reapply for coverage as your credit score improves, but in the meantime, you’re stuck paying more.

5. Potential Caps on Reimbursements for Temporary Living Expenses

Many insurance companies place a dollar cap or time limit on reimbursements for temporary living expenses. Suppose it takes four months after a fire to restore your apartment to a livable condition, and your renters insurance policy only covers relocation expenses for two months. In that case, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for the other two months of living expenses.

In other words, it’s probably best to assume your renters insurance policy won’t cover every single expense that arises out of an unfortunate circumstance. Having a healthy emergency fund saved up is one way to keep unexpected costs like this from derailing your finances.


Final Word

Choosing to purchase or forgo renters insurance is not a decision to make lightly. Nor is it a decision to agonize over and blow out of all proportion. If your renters insurance cost-benefit analysis has you at an impasse, consider this: You stand to save far more each year by moving to a more affordable city for renters than by doing without renters insurance.

In the grand scheme of things, peace of mind is relatively inexpensive.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How to Take Your Home Inventory

© 2021 RentPath Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. All photos, videos, text and other content are the property of RentPath Holdings, Inc. APARTMENT GUIDE and the APARTMENT GUIDE Trade Dress are registered trademarks of RentPath Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Insurance Bundles Can Save Money

© 2021 RentPath Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. All photos, videos, text and other content are the property of RentPath Holdings, Inc. APARTMENT GUIDE and the APARTMENT GUIDE Trade Dress are registered trademarks of RentPath Holdings, Inc or its affiliates.

Source: apartmentguide.com

What to Do If Your Apartment Floods

Flooding is, to put it mildly, no fun. Between the amount of damage typically done, the stress of dealing with repairs and trying to get back to normal, there’s a lot to cover.

While we can’t help you deal with the stress directly, these precautions and additional information should give you a better idea of what you’d need to do before, during and after you have a flooded apartment.

Pre-flood

The first thing is preparing for the possibility of any kind of damage by getting renters insurance that includes a flood policy covered under the National Flood Insurance Program.

The whole thing is usually no more than a few hundred dollars per year, and it covers you from floods, fire and theft. It isn’t a legal requirement, but some property managers will ask you to get it. Considering the low cost for the level of coverage you’ll get, it’s worthwhile.

Catching problems before they happen

To address the possibility of water damage and a flooded apartment more directly, keep an eye out for drips and leaks. You also want to watch for the appearance of water stains or mold growth, signs of a previous water leak. This includes checking the walls and ceiling when it rains and periodically looking at faucets and pipes in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Report anything you see to your property manager since these are issues they’ll need to repair. Make sure you have the emergency phone number for your building saved and accessible. It isn’t only good for flooding, but anything that happens unexpectedly and needs immediate attention.

Securing your belongings

While the likelihood of a flood is low, it’s still a good idea to keep valuable items away from the most obvious places they’d get wet. “The easiest way to keep smaller items safe is with a waterproof, fireproof box. These safes come in a variety of sizes. You will want to consider what items are most important to you before deciding on the size,” says Soil Away, a disaster restoration company.

Keep items like electronics off the floor if they’re near the kitchen or bathroom as well. These strategies both protect your valuables and also give you more time to get to things if the water is rising and you need to grab and go.

flooded apartmentflooded apartment

During the flood

When the flooding starts, get everything you can away from the path of the water. Take what valuables you can and move them into your car, into another room or into a neighbor’s apartment — anything to keep them dry.

Next, call that emergency maintenance number you’ve saved, as well as the management company itself. They should respond immediately, but if not, you may have to take matters into your own hands, contacting a plumber or other repair person.

While you wait for help to arrive, try to get things under control. Attempt to seal the leak if you can reach it and have the right materials. Use plastic bins or any other containers you have to contain as much water as possible.

After the flood

Unfortunately, the stress of a flooded apartment doesn’t end once the leak is fixed. Now you have to try and pick up the pieces, get things repaired and get back to life as normal. Sorting this out involves insurance claims and a close review of the terms of your lease.

Since you have to establish who handles what, there can be some confusion, so it’s important to know what general areas are more likely whose responsibility.

Documenting the damage

The first step after a flood is documenting all the damage that occurs. This is both for your insurance company and for your property manager to have. Take photos of both your damaged items and visible damage on walls or ceilings. Save all damaged property until an insurance adjuster is able to come out and document the damage. Don’t throw anything away until they give you the all-clear.

Establishing responsibility

Damage to the building itself normally falls under the property owner’s insurance. The actual structure and anything that comes with the unit like carpet or appliances are also covered. You’re responsible for your personal property, and having flood damage as part of your renters insurance should make dealing with that easier.

Exceptions to this breakdown occur when flooding happens because your property manager didn’t fix a known issue. In that case, they may end up paying to replace your own property. The opposite is also true if something you did caused the flooding. In this instance, you might have to pay for all the damage, including damage to the building itself. If there’s any conflict, don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer.

Terminating the lease

If the flooded apartment ends up with too much damage to remain livable, you may have the right to terminate your lease without penalty. If your property owner has another, equivalent apartment available, you could try and negotiate a move into that unit, signing a new lease. You could also try and work out a temporary living situation while your apartment is getting repaired.

Your lease should have a section on termination, but you can also research the local renter laws in your area to get a better idea of what your rights are. If you can’t work out a deal with your current property owner, it may be best to find a new place to live altogether.

flooded streetflooded street

Common causes of flooding

Flooding can happen anywhere, beginning from a natural phenomenon or from within your own apartment. Common sources of flooding include:

  • Heavy rain: “Heavy rainfall is more than 0.30 inches of rain per hour,” according to Weather Shack. Rain at this rate can overflow streams, drains and even entire sewer systems. This backs everything up, sending water overflowing into homes and apartment buildings.
  • Clogged or frozen pipes: Plumbing is often the internal culprit when it comes to flooding. Clogged pipes mean water can’t drain properly, so it comes back up into sinks, bathtubs or toilets. In the extreme cold, pipes can freeze, as well. When they thaw, they can end up bursting, sending water spraying. Issues like these going unchecked can lead to flooding.
  • Drainage basins in urban areas: Large cities like New York and Los Angeles use concrete drainage basins, which don’t provide a place for groundwater to get absorbed. In heavy rains, these basins can overflow, creating street flooding that can spread into the first few floors of buildings.
  • Leaky roofs: What may start out as a small crack in the ceiling can quickly become an access point for water to drip down if it’s not addressed. Any small imperfection in your ceiling should be reported immediately to your property manager for repairs.

“Just in case” is enough risk to prepare

Nobody likes to think about the disaster a flood could cause in their home, but it’s a risk to think it could never happen to you. In fact, 14,000 people in the U.S. experience some kind of water damage at home or at work every day according to Water Damage Defense.

Whether a little leak or a full-on deluge, some preparation and a deeper understanding of how easy it is to be ready, can help you can get ahead of the stressful situation that’s possible from a flooded apartment.

Read more about keeping your apartment safe:

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Bundling Insurance: Is it worth it?

  • Car Insurance

“Bundle your insurance and save!”: It’s a popular hook that you’ve probably heard over and over again in advertisements for various insurance companies, but what does it mean? Most insurance companies give you the option of bundling your insurance policies into one. For example, by bundling insurance, you would have auto insurance and homeowners insurance from the same insurance company. 

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A lot of times, this offer is made with the promise of big savings for bundling. Usually, insurance premiums can be paid together in one quick and easy sweep. While bundling can be convenient, how much money does it really save in the long run? In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons to bundling insurance so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you. 

How bundling insurance can save you money

Insurance companies that have bundling as an option will usually offer a bundling discount of anywhere between 5 and 25%. Since your house is likely more expensive than your car, you will probably get the biggest discount on your home insurance. 

Now days, insurance companies are not looking to only sell homeowners insurance. Rather, they are more often than not, in the business of trying to sell you different types of insurance. Overall, insurance rates for home insurance have gone up quite a bit over the last few years, which is what makes an insurance bundle look so appealing to homeowners. 

Basically, if you get your car insurance and homeowners insurance from the same insurance carrier, you will probably receive a 10% discount on your auto policy and 15% on your home insurance policy. 

Different companies will obviously have different insurance rates and bundle discounts, but generally you will get a larger discount on home insurance than you will on renters insurance. For example, if renters insurance and auto insurance are the two types of insurance that you are planning on bundling, you might get up to a 5% discount on your insurance policies. 

Pros of bundling auto and home insurance

If you’re considering bundling your insurance but want a run-down of what’s in it for you, here are some of the reasons why bundling insurance can be a good idea:

  • You will get a bundling discount: This is probably the main reason why policyholders consider bundling in the first place. Bundling can usually save you anywhere from five to 25% on your insurance premiums. 
  • You’ll only have to deal with one insurance company: If you get both of your insurance policies with the same carrier, you’ll only have to worry about one app or website every month when it’s time to pay the bill. When you want to check up on insurance claims or anything else related to your insurance needs, you can do some all from the same place with the same login information.
  • You’ll only have one insurance agent: If you choose to bundle your insurance, you will likely only need to correspond with one insurance agent, which is cool if you have established a good relationship with them. 
  • Your chance of being dropped decreases: Sometimes, if you have too many insurance claims on your home or auto insurance, this could lead to your insurance company dropping you. However, this is a lot less likely to happen when you have more than one policy with them. 
  • You will probably have a single deductible: When you have multiple policies with the same insurance carrier, it’s highly likely that you will only need to pay one deductible for both insurance products. In most cases, this can end up being a less expensive deal than it would have been had you not bundled your insurance. 

The cons of bundling auto and home insurance

Like most things in life, if there are pros, there are also cons. Bundling insurance can be beneficial in some respects, but here are the drawbacks:

  • You will be less likely to shop for cheaper deals: Once you get comfortable in a bundled insurance deal, it’s hard to keep your options open. The problem with this is that sometimes the discount we are receiving isn’t actually as good as we might think it is. For example, you might be benefitting from a multi-policy discount with your current company but missing out on a significantly cheaper car insurance rate elsewhere. In some cases, it ends up being cheaper to hold policies from two separate companies, but you won’t know this unless you shop around.
  • Insurance premium creeps: Bundling always saves you money in the beginning, but there’s no guarantee that your insurance company will hike their rates at some point or another. This is because the appeal of bundling is designed to be convenient and comfortable. This means that if rates can increase without you even noticing. J.D. Power, a company that monitors customer service by car insurance companies, found that a little under half of all policyholders who bundled their insurance have plans to definitely renew their policy. Agreeing to definitely renew your insurance policy before even knowing if cheaper rates exist elsewhere or if your current rates will increase isn’t the best way to handle the situation. If you’re going to bundle, it’s best to stay open-minded and shop around before deciding to renew.
  • Beware of fake bundling: In some cases, you might receive insurance quotes form an agent who is pitching you a bundle, when in reality, they are setting you up with a policy from an affiliated company. While you will still get the discount, you will miss out on the convenience of having everything all in one place.

What to do before bundling

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider if you are planning on bundling insurance. It takes patience and persistence to stay on top of changing rates and deals from other insurance companies. So, before choosing to bundle, keep these things in mind:

  • Shop around for insurance premiums before comparing bundling discounts. 
  • Ask a lot of questions and pay attention to what you are being offered. If your insurance agent mentions an affiliate company and that’s not what you want, speak up. 
  • It’s easy to stay loyal to a company who has given you convenience and a multi-policy discount, but every now and then, reevaluate your rates. Just because you have been insured by the same company for a certain amount of time doesn’t mean that the prices will stay the same. Every year before it’s time to renew, shop around for different options. It’s also a good idea to do this after a major life event like a divorce or a marriage.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

8 Tips to Prevent Kitchen Fires

Don’t let your next dinner party go up in smoke! Cooking fires are the most common cause of household fires, and you don’t have to own a commercial-sized Viking range to feel the heat.

From grease spills to stray dishtowels, even a tiny cooktop in a studio apartment can set a blaze. Follow these eight tips to reduce your risks for an apartment kitchen fire.

1. Stay in the kitchen.

This may seem obvious, but, according to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires. If you must leave a stove unattended, turn off the heat and move the pan to a cool burner.

2. Use a timer.

Check food regularly, whether you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting. Using a timer can help remind you to check on your dish.

3. Keep the stove top clear.

Keep dishtowels, oven mitts, paper towels—anything that can catch fire—away from your stovetop.

4. Dress for the occasion.

Wear close-fitting clothes, and tightly roll up sleeves, when you’re cooking. Loose clothing can come in contact with burners and catch fire.

5. Wipe up spills.

Cooking on a dirty stove, or in a dirty oven, is just inviting a potential fire. Grease buildup is flammable; clean your stove every time you cook and promptly wipe up any spills.

6. Don’t overheat your oils.

Overheated cooking oil can start to smoke and bubble up, which can cause it to spill out and ignite. Not sure about the smoking point for your cooking oils? Refer to this handy chart.

7: Wait for grease to cool before disposing.

Toss hot grease into your trashcan and it could go up in flames! Wait for it to cool before disposing of it in the garbage. Or, better yet, pour it into an old food can before tossing it out.

8. Keep your smoke detector working.

A smoke detector is an important fire safety device and your first line of defense. Make sure your landlord has installed one. And make a mental note to change the batteries twice a year, when you change your clocks fordaylight savings time.

Related articles: 
Fire Prevention Tips: 14 Ways to Avoid Setting Your Apartment on FireFire Prevention TipsWhat to Do If Your Apartment Floods

If a small fire does erupt on your stove top, you might try to smother it by sliding a lid over the pan; turn off the burner, and leave the pan uncovered until it has cooled. For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

But, when it doubt, just get out. Too many people have been injured trying to fight fires themselves. Close the door behind you to help contain the fire, and call 911. Renters insurance might help replace your valuables, but it can’t replace you!

This article was created with the help of the editors of the the Allstate Blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life. 

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Get Your Finances in Check: How to Save Money as a Renter

Woman counting cash with a planner on her desk

Did you treat-yo-self a little too hard? Getting back on track after overdoing the retail therapy can be a daunting-but-necessary task! Make staying within budget a little easier on yourself by leveraging these little-known ways to save money as a renter.

1. Modify Your Renters Insurance

You do have renters insurance, right? As a renter, it’s one of the most critical items in your apartment life toolkit! It’s a relatively small but necessary (and sometimes legally required) expense that can help protect you financially in case of apartment mishaps.

However, having renter’s insurance doesn’t mean you should settle for any policy! Take some time to review your policy now, asking the following questions as you go.

  • Can you afford a higher deductible (which lowers your premiums)?
  • Does shopping around for the best deal uncover an equally good but less effective provider?
  • Will paying annually save you money compared to paying more frequently throughout the year?

2. Meal Prep

Going out to eat is delicious and convenient, but it can also be over-indulgent in calories and costs! If your foodie ways interfere with your finances, get in touch with your inner chef, and prepare meals in the comfort of your own home. And there’s more than the financial benefit to consider: eating home-cooked meals makes people happier and healthier, says Fix.com!

Bonus foodie tip: Retain your grocery receipt, highlight perishable foods, and stick it on your fridge or in another prominent spot. This helps make sure you consume those foods before they go bad. The average American wastes about one pound of food per day; use this tip to ensure that you “waste not, want not!”

3. Sign Up for the Apartment Gym

Working out at a fancy gym is excellent. They have the latest equipment, friendly faces, and TVs you can watch while sweating your way through a treadmill workout!

Unfortunately, such gyms also come with membership fees, either monthly or annually. If your apartment complex has a small gym area, you can likely get a pretty good workout there. To supplement it, consider walking or jogging through the neighborhood and doing bodyweight exercises in a nearby park.

4. Team Up on Laundry

If you’re currently using coin-operated laundry machines, then you understand how quickly the costs add up. It’s as if the washer and dryer devour quarters! Worse yet, you pay the same for a small load as you do for a large load. However, you can overcome this particular type of money madness by teaming up with a roommate to combine hampers and get the most out of your money.

Alternatively, if your apartment has an in-unit washer and dryer — use it wisely! Combine your and your roommate’s different laundry loads — linens, lights, and darks — to get the most out of every wash.

5. Reconsider Your Internet Service

When it comes to figuring out how renters can save money, many people overlook their internet service. For a good reason: many people consider access to the internet a must. Less crucial, however, is paying more for blazing fast internet speeds and higher data limits than you need.

  • Look into a cheaper internet plan and offset data caps by borrowing DVDs and Blu-rays from the local library instead of streaming.
  • Listen to podcasts for any background noise you usually use the TV to provide.
  • See if your employer offers a stipend for internet access.
  • Get quotes from competing internet providers and ask your current provider to match them…or else!

6. Find a More Affordable Apartment

Is rent consuming a considerable portion of your monthly pay? In that case, finding a more affordable apartment can be one of the most straightforward ways to save money and stay on-budget! Start searching for a new apartment that’s priced to please!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com