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Is it true that your insurance won't cover you if a burglar breaks into your apartment after seeing from your social media posts that you're on vacation? Are there other kinds of situations where you might be considered at fault?
Even if you (unwittingly) alert potential thieves to your absence via social media, your insurance will cover you for theft—but there are cases for which you might need additional coverage, our experts say.
"I have never heard of an insurance denial of this kind. However, it would depend on the fine print of the homeowners policy," says Michael Rothschild of the property management firm AJ Clarke.
Review your policy carefully, in other words. But while it's not a great idea to broadcast your upcoming vacation to the world over social media, doing so is unlikely to void your coverage.
"Your standard apartment insurance policy will cover theft losses, even if an incautious social media posts alerts the world you will be away, and even if you accidentally leave a door open," says Jeffrey Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (a Brick sponsor).
You won't be held liable for theft of, or damage to, your property that occurs within your apartment, with a few exceptions.
"The problem areas are certain classes of property like jewelry or business and professional use items," Schneider says. "And sometimes losses that occur outside the apartment are not covered."
Many insurance policies for renters, or co-op and condo owners, only cover jewelry up to a certain amount, so if you have expensive watches, rings, or other gems, you'll need to purchase additional insurance. (See this Brick guide to jewelry insurance to learn more about getting your items appraised and how much you can expect to spend insuring them.)
And if you work from home, you may also want to insure your professional inventory with a separate business insurance policy.
For renters, having an insurance policy is akin to having good hygiene, says Mike Mirandi, vice president of sales at TheGuarantors. "Renters insurance is cheap, and it offers valuable protection at times when you need it the most," he says, and points out that it's especially valuable when it comes to property loss resulting from theft or damage. "Many renters don't realize that the cost of replacing their personal items can easily exceed $25,000. In fact, many landlords that we work with require renters to have a minimum personal property coverage of $50,000 or more, and for good reason: A renter's stuff isn't covered under their landlord's insurance."
But there's one more potential problem area to be aware of, even if you do have good coverage: theft or damage by your roommate or subletter. Subletting, Schneider notes, can void your policy. Drawing up a roommate contract could provide some protection against those possibilities, but if you find yourself sharing space with a thief, you'll have to turn to a lawyer, rather than your insurance agent.
For more Ask an Expert questions and answers, click here.
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