Just because your landlord has insurance on the buildings and property where you live doesn’t mean that your personal belongings are covered. Renters insurance covers the contents of your apartment that aren’t covered under your landlord’s policies. Instead of waiting until you lose your property to a fire or theft, ask your landlord what level of coverage comes with your lease. Shop around and make sure you follow directions to prepare for a claim, such as keeping receipts or making a video.

Get Replacement Coverage

Instead of using original receipts to pay renters insurance claims, the cost of replacing the item is based on the cost of the new item minus a deduction for depreciation on the original item you listed when you purchased the insurance.You also can take a video of those belongings and file it with your application. For a little extra, you can purchase a policy that provides replacement coverage. The insurance company then pays for the replacement of the item with a similar piece and no depreciation or pays for the full cost of repairing the item. Renters insurance typically is not very expensive and ranges from about $10 a month for a reimbursement policy to $20 a month for a replacement policy.

Document Everything

Prepare a list of missing or damaged items before you call the insurance company. The list should include those items you listed on the application, which may be verified with pictures or a video. Collect any receipts you may have kept from purchases. Take additional pictures if items were damaged in a fire or flood immediately, as they may continue to deteriorate. Wait until the claims adjuster visits your apartment before you begin cleaning to ensure you get the correct compensation for your loss. Keep receipts for any associated costs, such as a new lock or a hotel room you may have to get while you’re waiting for the adjuster.

Additional Benefits

Renters insurance can do more for you than just replace lost stuff. Most policies offer riders that will pay for a motel while your apartment is being fixed or repaired. You will need to keep receipts for the room and any other expenses such as meals that you had to take outside your apartment to get that reimbursement. Renters insurance policies also can cover medical bills you and others in the apartment incur if the incident that caused them was not your fault. The typical reimbursement is capped at $1,000, so save all medical bills and receipts you might get from treatment.

Get What You Pay For

Insurance companies offer what’s called “endorsements.” These are riders or additions that cost you extra but that cover more items than your basic policy. For example, if you have expensive computer equipment, you should consider an endorsement to cover its cost, in which case you’ll need to show receipts to get that coverage. If you run a business out of your apartment or house, you may want to consider a renters endorsement to cover you for liability if anything happens to visitors or other business interests.