Price of a pizza could protect your possessions

Six apartments and the roof of an Ash Street Place Apartments building were heavilty damaged by a fire, while many other units had smoke and water damage.

Seven out of ten people who rent a place to live do not have insurance to cover their possessions if there's a fire, according to Jim Camoriano, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance.

Numbers shared online by the Insurance Information Institute back him up. The group says on it's website that a 2012 poll by ORC International found 96 percent of homeowners had insurance, but only 31 percent of renters did.

A damaging fire at the
Ash Street Place Apartments
on North Stadium in Columbia could change some minds. One building went up in flames, displacing residents of 66 units - with fire damage, others with smoke and water damage - for at least one night. The American Red Cross opened an overnight shelter for residents at Columbia's Broadway Christian Church.

Complex officials said renters are required to have renters insurance. If they do, many will find their policy covers a motel room for the night and additional living expenses like meals. But most importantly, a renters insurance policy will cover the cost of replacing personal possessions - household items like couches, clothes and computers.

So why don't more people seek coverage from a renters insurance policy? Camoriano said most people don't think about buying a policy because of misconceptions about the insurance. Some think their landlord's policy will cover their loss, but it will not. Generally, a landlord policy will cover the structure but not what's inside a unit.

Some people think renters insurance will be too expensive.

â??It's typically about the cost of a pizza a month,â?? Camoriano said.

In 2010, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners put the the average yearly price of a policy in Missouri at $180, or $15 a month. Camoriano said that will typically buy $20,000- $25,000 worth of coverage. Renters would have to pay a deductible first before collecting on their claim.

And it's not just a fire to be concerned about. Renters insurance can also cover your possessions when there's damage from severe weather or if you are the victim of a break-in. Plus, the liability coverage can cover a claim if someone sues you after being injured while visiting you, or is bitten by a pet. A typical policy offers $100,000 in liability coverage and may also cover your legal fees.

Camoriano said it could be worth paying a few dollars more to cover electronics as well. A personal articles policy may add $3 to the monthly premium, but usually will cover replacing items like computers, cameras, jewelry and artwork with no deductible.

Camoriano said you can prepare for an emergency by taking inventory of what you own. Take pictures with your cell phone or make a written inventory using a list. You can find them online or make your own. Be sure to store the inventory information somewhere else in case your home is damaged.

There is one group of people who may not need renters insurance. Students under the age of 26 who are enrolled in college and live on campus may be covered by their parents home owners policy.