Why You Need Renter’s Insurance In Texas Before Moving


Not sure why you need renter’s insurance before you move?

To put it plainly: you’ll need a renter’s policy to cover anything you can’t immediately replace.

In fact, if you’re renting an apartment, condo, or house, there are very few scenarios where it’s just a waste of money. 

While not required by state law, renter’s insurance may be required in your tenant agreement.

But, is renter’s insurance a good value for consumers?

Besides taking care of everything most people expect their landlord to do, renter’s insurance can majorly cover your tail in various scenarios.

Yep, even if you’re facing a lawsuit!

(Of course, we hope a situation never goes that far.) 

But, in the interest of helping you settle into your new place as smoothly as possible after you move, we’re shouting from the rooftops just how important it is to have renter’s insurance. 

Ken Robinson, our go-to property insurance expert and CEO of Houston-based MAKZ Insurance Company, explains why renter’s insurance is a must when you move.

 

1. Renter’s Coverage Can Pay For Itself 40 Times Over

A bit overwhelmed by all the industry vocabulary around renter’s insurance? 

Let’s break down three commonly confusing terms in an easier way:

  • Premium- What you pay for renter’s insurance; often referred to in annual terms
  • Deductible- What you pay before your policy coverage kicks in
  • Liability- The amount of personal protection covering you, up to which an insurer will pay if you’re held liable for damage or injury by someone else; can include legal fees, repairs/damages, medical bills, etc.

Renter’s insurance is not expensive. It’s very affordable, despite what you may think.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Renter’s policy premiums have been falling since 2015 
  • You don’t even have to nix your Starbucks habit to afford a $15-$50 monthly premium that covers $10,000-$40,000 of personal property
  • Average renter’s insurance premiums in Texas are $232/ year (or $19/ month) as of 2017, (III.org) 
  • Discounts may be available based on your age, job, or residential amenities (e.g. security systems, fire extinguishers, deadbolts, or sprinklers)
  • Ken advises combining a renter’s policy with your auto insurance for a multi-policy discount 

By these numbers alone, it’s obvious why you need renter’s insurance if you’re moving into a new rental property: 

At bare-bones minimum (or, $19 per month for $10,000 in coverage) renter’s insurance can pay for itself 40 times over if you have to file a claim in Texas.

Sure, you’ll have to cough up $250 to $1,500 in your own cash for a deductible. 

So what?

That’s nothing if you don’t have renter’s insurance and a fire destroys $30,000 worth of everything you own.  Or, if someone sues you for $20,000 in medical bills and loss of income after injuring themselves in your apartment.

See how it can be helpful in a pinch?

This brings us to our next point…

2. It Can Help If You’re Held Liable (or Sued)

“How insurance really works is, what started or what created the risk to happen,” Ken explains.

“So, I always use the scenario of, if a tree fell over and fell on top of your neighbor’s home, the question is going to be asked, ‘What caused the tree to fall?’ So is it [the] wind that caused the tree to fall? I say that because, in the event of the fish tank scenario, you’re liable because you bumped into it and it leaked to your neighbor’s [home].”

No one expects bad things to happen, but they do.

That’s a part of life. But, in the insurance world, you might have liability for what happens.

Whether it’s by negligence or an accident on your part, you can still be held liable for the fallout of certain circumstances. (Yes, even if you’re only renting a place and don’t own it).

A landlord, visitor, or neighbor who suffers damages or injury by any action or negligence of your own can force you to pay or file a lawsuit

No one wants to deal with legal fees or owe someone money.

That’s where a rental policy can save the day. Renter’s insurance is an absolute must in times like this since basic policies cover a minimum of $100,000 in liability

Even incidents that aren’t intentional or malicious can potentially lead to huge problems for you legally and financially.

Renter’s insurance helps financially protect you against liabilities like:

  • If your kid throws a ball and breaks a neighbor’s window
  • You accidentally break your aquarium, and it leaks to the unit below, ruining your neighbor’s mattress
  • Someone trips on your rug and twists their ankle, needing medical care
  • Your dog bites another resident and they sue 
  • A visiting relative leaves a candle or cigarette unattended, causing fire damage
  • Pests like bed bugs, mice, or roaches, hitch a ride to your new residence, infesting your new rental property

There are exceptions, however.

Renter’s insurance liability extends only to third parties. 

If you or someone living in your rental residence is hurt, related medical expenses won’t be covered.

Renter’s policies don’t cover structural damage. (Since you don’t own the house or apartment structure and therefore you’re not considered responsible for it.)

Violating the terms of your policy can lead to insurers dropping your coverage. It could also leave you paying 100% of related damages out-of-pocket.

For example, many renter’s insurance policies explicitly deny coverage to so-called ‘dangerous dog breeds’ (such as pit bulls, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, and more).

So if you do decide to take in such a pup who ends up biting someone, your policy won’t cover it.

All the related medical and/or legal bills would be your responsibility. 

Read and stick to the terms of your renter’s insurance policy, and you won’t have to worry.

3. Renter’s Insurance Protects Your Personal Belongings

One of the biggest reasons why you need rental insurance? 

It covers your personal belongings. 

“A renter’s [policy] is definitely worth it,” says Ken.

“If you have a television in your home that you spent $5,000…or even if you spent $200 on it, you purchased it. So in the event that something happens to it, someone steals it, you get smoke damage in the home…you want to make sure your stuff is covered. If you don’t have renter’s insurance, you’re pretty much starting over.”

Think about everything you currently own—no matter when you bought it. How much does every single item you have cost? 

Estimate. Add it up mentally. And it’s not just monetary value… 

Consider how many years it took you to gain it all.

Could you afford to spend time and money replacing every single thing you love if it were instantly destroyed? 

Personal property coverage is in your renter’s policy. Not only will it cover theft from where you live, but it can also cover theft from your car during traveling!

Pets aren’t included. Your more expensive items—like jewelry, collections, electronics, antiques, artwork, or instruments—most likely need additional coverage (a.k.a, endorsements, floaters, or riders.) 

If you have anything of monetary or sentimental value, ask your insurer about getting added coverage.  

Your personal property will be covered under renter’s insurance as long as you:

  • Keep your policy up-to-date. Coverage can lapse without warning if you cancel a payment method. Also, revisit your policy as you acquire more items, grow your family, or adopt pets
  • Update & take inventory of your stuff. It makes filing a claim and moving much easier. (Use photos, video, receipts, documents, serial numbers, and more to prove how much your stuff is worth)
  • Read your policy limits. This is how much insurers will pay for certain types of property damage (e.g. how much the company will pay for cash, jewelry, business items, appliances, etc.)
  • Know if your policy uses Actual Cash Value (ACV) or replacement cost. Basic renter’s policies default to ACV, which deducts value from items based on age and use. You can add on replacement cost for about 10% more, but it reimburses you with a new item at full & current value
  • Get a flood add-on or comprehensive insurance—especially if you rent a home in Texas or are on a first-floor unit. Flood and storm damage to your things are not covered under renter’s policies

4. Renter’s Insurance Can Help You Move Out

Renter’s policies cover expenses incurred by loss of use.

Loss of use coverage is what insurance companies will pay for costs that exceed your normal living expenses until you move back in or find a new place.

Let’s say your residence becomes uninhabitable from a covered event. 

While your landlord’s policy covers their content and structural property damage, it doesn’t cover you or your personal items at all. 

Additionally, landlords are not required to help you move out temporarily, and landlord policies don’t extend to cover tenants. 

Many tenants are shocked to find out that landlords are not legally required to cover their hotel costs if a property is unlivable. 

That’s where renter’s insurance can help you move out.

Your destroyed items or additional living expenses you incur from loss of use (i.e. moving out of a damaged residence and paying for hotels, movers, food, etc.)—are all covered.

You could even move somewhere new if you prefer. Especially if you have to break your lease because the damage is so bad that you can’t return.

5. It Could Be Required in Your Rental Agreement

If you’re still on the fence about renter’s insurance, be aware that landlords are wising up and starting to add clauses to their tenant agreements that hold renters accountable. 

These clauses also help landlords protect themselves from sky-high repair costs, legal fees, and loss of rental income.

So, do you really need renter’s insurance? Is renter’s insurance even required in Texas?

Lots of newer tenant agreements are making renter’s policies mandatory in Texas.

In some states, this clause is mandatory. Although it isn’t required by the state of Texas, Ken says most tenants should still get need renter’s insurance in Texas. A growing number of leasing or rental agreements are even making it mandatory.

Sometimes, there are even policy limit requirements for tenants in these agreements. 

You could be held personally liable and have to pay out-of-pocket if you let your renter’s insurance lapse, don’t meet the minimums in your tenant agreement, or don’t have it at all.

Wrapping Up

We get it, you’re really excited about your big move (and that’s awesome!) 

Why not protect the investment you put into moving your personal belongings by getting renter’s insurance, too?

You never know what could happen. Now that you realize why renter’s insurance is worth it, don’t just get a random policy, and call it a day. 

Take inventory of everything you own.

Document and keep receipts of the new things you buy.

Find out how much your already-owned items are currently worth so you don’t get sticker shock if they must be replaced at your policy’s ACV (Actual Cash Value). 

Most importantly, arm yourself with a policy that you’ve actually read

Know your policy terms well. If anything ever happens, you’ll understand why you need renters insurance coverage to help.


Best Apps for Buying a Home


If you need to move soon and have to find a house fast, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are several apps that make house hunting simple enough for you to do anytime, anywhere. But which app is the one that’s going to make it easiest for you to find your dream home so you can schedule your Houston movers as soon as possible? The following are some of the top apps to use on your journey to buying a home in the Houston area.

Zillow

Zillow has been a staple in the home buying process for years now. It’s so easy to use and has so many listings on it that it’s fun to just scroll through it even when you’re not in the market for a home! So it’s perfect for serious homebuyers and daydreamers alike.

Pros: Zillow allows you to see the history of the listing price and taxes of each home, so you can get an idea of whether it’s the best price you’re going to get on the house you have your heart set on.

Cons: One of the downsides of Zillow is that it doesn’t always list the HOA information. And when it does, it’s sort of buried at the bottom of the page, even though you definitely need to know this information upfront if you want a true idea of your monthly cost! Also, Zillow isn’t as updated as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is what real estate agents use for listings. That means Zillow doesn’t necessarily have access to every home on the market, and sometimes by the time the listing shows up on Zillow, it’s already under contract with another buyer.

Trulia

Another popular homebuying app is Trulia. Though it’s owned by Zillow, many buyers find that it’s actually better during the active home search, since it has a few features that Zillow lacks.

Pros: One of the best details of Trulia is its crime statistics of each area, letting you get an idea of how safe a neighborhood is. In addition, you can easily filter your search using keywords for what you’re looking for in your new Houston home, such as all tile, hardwood floors or a pool.

Cons: Since Trulia is owned by Zillow, it shares its main downside. That means you might not be seeing every listing the second it’s available when you use Trulia instead of the MLS. But this app is still good for browsing homes, so you can send your real estate agent a list of properties you like and he or she can give you more updated information.

Homesnap

Homesnap is yet another homebuying app you can use to browse homes before you schedule moving day with your local Houston movers.

Pros: The best thing about Homesnap is that it doesn’t just give you information on homes for sale. It also lets you learn more about homes that aren’t even on the market! So if you’re driving down the street and see a beautiful house that stops you in your tracks, just take a picture of it and Homesnap will tell you everything you need to know. If it’s for sale, you’ll see the list price and all the other details. If it’s not, you’ll see its past sale prices and estimated value. Plus, this app uses MLS data, meaning it’s always updated.

Cons: The search criteria on Homesnap isn’t as detailed or precise as other homebuying apps, so it may take more time to find a house you’ll love on it. It’s better for when you’re out driving around searching for houses and just need some information on pricing, contact information and open house hours.

Houston Association of Realtors

The Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) has its own app dedicated to helping locals find homes in the Houston area. If you’re looking to stay in Houston, you’ll want to try out this app!

Pros: Since this is a local app, you’ll only see homes in the Houston area, so there’s no extra step of limiting your search criteria to a particular state. Plus, this app lists the HOA information, and it’s also connected to the MLS so it gets only updated listings.

Cons: You’ll notice HAR doesn’t use the Great Schools rating program that many other apps do. This might be a disadvantage if your kids would be transferring into new schools after the move.

You can use any of these apps to find your dream home. And as soon as you do–and once you get a move-in date–be sure to schedule Houston movers to help make moving a breeze! Contact our Houston office today to learn more.


Should You Move or Remodel Your House? How To Decide.


If you’re not happy with your home, your two choices are to remodel it or move. But which option is right for you? The answer depends on a few factors, including the home improvements you have in mind, where you’re located and what your budget is. Here’s a closer look at what to consider before you decide if it’s time to hire Austin movers to help you move, or contractors to remodel your home.

What Do You Want to Change About Your Home?

First, decide if remodeling is even a realistic option. In some cases, remodeling your home can get you exactly what you want. For example, if you like the layout of your home but just wish it were more modern inside, renovating the kitchen and bathrooms with new flooring, countertops and appliances may be all you need! Or maybe you want just one more bedroom or bathroom. As long as there’s a little extra space on your lot–or maybe a large room you can divide into two–you should be able to get another bedroom or bathroom without moving.

But let’s face it; there are some home improvements that just aren’t possible in your current house. For instance, if you want a resort-like backyard with a large pool–but your backyard is the size of a postage stamp–moving may be for the best. And if you have your heart set on a basement but only have a single-story home, you’re going to have to move to make that dream come true. So think about what you want to change about your living space before you decide whether it’s time to say goodbye to your current home and schedule some Austin movers.

Do You Love Your Location?

One of the most important factors is the location–because you can’t change that with a simple remodel! So think about where your home currently is. Is it in a good school district? Is it pretty close to work and all your favorite amenities, like your preferred grocery store and gym? Do you like your neighbors? If the answer is yes, you have a great location and should probably just remodel as much as you can to improve your home.

But let’s say you’re tired of your long commute, and the local schools are rated terribly. Maybe crime has gone up, or your neighbors make your time at home unpleasant. If you can relate to these statements, it’s probably time to schedule your move with some Austin movers who can help you on your way to getting settled somewhere new!

What’s Your Budget?

Of course, you can’t remodel or move without first making sure you have the money to do either one. So you need to get an idea of how much each option will cost. If you’re thinking of remodeling, start gathering estimates from local contractors. Once you have a price range in mind, you can decide how you’re going to pay–assuming the cost is in your budget. Will you use savings or a credit card for the remodel, or will you need to take out a home equity loan? And is the remodel even worth the price you’re going to pay? Will it improve the value of your home so you can at least recoup some of the costs when you eventually sell?

Now that you have an idea of the cost of remodeling your home, consider what it would cost to move. Do you have enough equity in your house that you could make a profit from the sale? And if so, how much would you have to spend to get your dream home? If it turns out you just can’t afford a home that has everything you want in it, it may be best to stay put and remodel. But if you find that you could get a great home for about the same amount your current home would sell for, moving might make sense!

If moving is the right choice for you, it’s time to call Austin movers to load up all your belongings and unload them at your new home. Contact 3 Men Movers today to get your move scheduled.