Okay, so you are giving this whole adulting thing a go. Your new job comes with health insurance, so you're good there. But you've also heard you need insurance to protect your stuff. You may have no clue where to start.
In short: At a minimum, you need renters insurance if you rent your home. You’ll also need auto insurance if you own a car. Non-owned auto insurance can cover you if you don’t own a car but rent or borrow one often. If you freelance, gig, or side hustle, you may also benefit from professional liability insurance.
Here are a few questions to help you decide what kind of insurance you need to buy.
1. Are you renting?
If so, you need renters insurance (also, congratulations on not still living with your parents. You are definitely adulting!). Renters insurance helps protect the things in your home. It also gives you liability protection. This means that if someone were to get hurt or you accidentally cause damage to your rented home, the insurance would pay for the cost of the medical bills or repairs.
Another great thing about renters insurance is that it will cover theft of your possessions even if they aren’t stolen from your property. For example, if your computer gets stolen out of someone else's car, you have coverage for that. Renters insurance also protects you if your belongings are taken while you’re on vacation. So, if your laptop gets stolen out of your hotel room while you’re on vacation, your renters insurance will cover the cost to replace it.
2. Do you drive a car?
If you own a car, you already know that you need car insurance. But you may be surprised to learn that even if you don't own a car, you may still need an auto insurance policy. Wait, what? Stick with us for a minute, and it will all become clear. We aren't suggesting an auto policy if you don’t drive a car at all. That would be like setting fire to your hard-earned cash. What we are suggesting is a non-owned auto insurance policy, which will cover you if you borrow or rent a car frequently.
A non-owned auto insurance policy provides protection if you cause an accident that damages another person's vehicle or causes injury. This type of policy typically doesn’t cover physical damage to the car that you’re driving or medical payments if you’re injured in the case that you cause an accident. You’ll need to purchase physical damage coverage from the car rental or sharing company, or check that whoever you borrow the car from has that coverage on their own auto insurance policy. You can add medical payments coverage to a non-owned auto insurance policy in some cases.
3. Do you freelance?
If you’re a digital nomad and frequently find yourself working for clients through sites like Upwork, Fiverr, or freelancer.com, it's essential to have coverage to protect yourself. And we don’t mean sunglasses to hide behind when you camp out at Starbucks all day for the free WiFi (yeah, they know what you’re doing, and let’s face it, you know that they know). We’re talking about professional liability insurance, which provides coverage for your legal defense if a client files suit for negligence or is awarded damages in a civil lawsuit against you. That sounds big and scary. But in our rapidly changing world, a 3 AM email from a disgruntled potential client that wrecks your professional reputation is a sad possibility. You never know when a client relationship could turn sour or you could have an emergency that prevents you from completing your contract on schedule. A policy with liability coverage may help protect you if things take an unpleasant turn.
So how much coverage do you need?
1. Renters Insurance
There are two parts to renters insurance coverage. First is the liability. Choosing a liability limit is pretty straightforward. Most companies have predetermined amounts for you to choose from. It's a good idea to start with at least $100,000 and go up from there. Remember, the coverage limit is the maximum amount that the insurer will pay you. The second component of renters insurance is coverage for your stuff (the contents of your home). The amount you choose for the contents coverage on your renters insurance will depend on how much stuff you have and what it’s worth. Things like your furniture, electronics, heck even your socks. Go to each room and do a quick visual scan. How much would it cost to replace everything? Some policies start out with $10,000 of coverage and go up from there.
You’ll also need to think about your deductible, which is how much you’ll pay out of pocket before the insurance kicks in. Low deductible policies typically have higher premiums. On the other hand, if your deductible is too high, you might find yourself in a situation where your bike got stolen, but it makes no sense to report the loss to your insurer because the cost of the bike is less than your deductible (yep, this actually happened to Surround’s CEO).
2. Non-Owner Auto Insurance
For non-owner auto insurance, you can choose the liability coverage and medical payments (if you choose to add that to the policy). If you're just getting started with insurance, you should consider carrying no less than $100,000 coverage for injuries per person, $300,000 for injuries total per accident, and $50,000 for property damage, all under the liability coverage. Medical payments coverage (“MedPay”) is typically capped at $10,000 and will cover all passengers in your vehicle no matter who causes an accident. MedPay can also be used in conjunction with medical health insurance to cover the costs of treatment for any injuries. If you have a high deductible or low limits on your health insurance you may want to opt for a higher MedPay coverage.
3. Professional Liability Insurance
Finally, for professional liability insurance, the amount of coverage available typically starts at $500,000. While this seems high, keep in mind that it covers damages for your client (for example, loss of internet sales due to malfunctioning code you wrote) and protects your assets from being seized, as well as covers the cost of legal representation, which isn’t cheap at the going hourly rate for lawyers these days. Your premium will be determined by the insurer based on factors such as the type of services you provide, what types of clients you have, your experience, and if you’ve ever had any claims against you.
Is there one policy for all that stuff?
Wow, that is a lot of stuff to remember, and we haven’t even talked about how to set up your wi-fi router, IRA, AppleCare, and health insurance. Adulting is a lot of work, and things would be so much easier if everything came in a nice neat bundle. Sort of like how you get your meal subscription box, your wardrobe subscription box, your pet supplies subscription box... all the things you want in one box and that's all you pay for. Why not a virtual insurance subscription box? Well, the insurance stylists at Surround are working hard behind the scenes to design an insurance plan for the way you live. Surround provides renters, non-owned auto, and professional liability insurance in one easy and complete product. Making adulting just a teeny bit easier.
For more information about insurance during and after college, see our guide to insurance for college students.