Stuff: How to protect it

How much is your property worth to you?

For all the discussion of emergency funds and disaster preparedness that goes on in the personal finance blogosphere, I rarely, if ever, read anything about protecting yourself from property crime. Perhaps because it's an unpleasant subject, perhaps because many people have never experienced it, but I don't hear a big conversation about the subject in PF discussions.

And yet, for many of us, a sizable portion of our accumulated wealth is in our property — from family heirlooms to everyday items to tools of the trade, our possessions are assets in our personal balance sheets. We work hard, save up, shop smart, and we get stuff we use, enjoy and value.

Yes, owning less stuff means there is less stuff to lose, but let's be practical for a moment — not everyone can sleep on the floor of an empty apartment and call it a home. So please, let's not go there, and let's just stick to the subject of securing whatever it is we have, whether it's a living room full of family treasures or a small trunk with less than 100 items. Even if you're a minimalist, your stuff is worth something to you. How do you protect it?

Insurance is not always enough

Since the robbery of my business storage, I've been having conversations with other people, including other business owners, about their experiences with theft. In many cases they were compensated by insurance, but not always to their satisfaction. When your insurance pays actual cash value rather than replacement cost, depreciation applies. The check for your stolen top-of-the-line laptop from two years ago might only let you buy a junk computer when it finally arrives.

Also, in many cases, theft policies do not cover “mysterious disappearance,” meaning that, if something simply vanishes without evidence of a crime, you might not be covered. This is the norm with inland marine policies, but it also may be part of your home insurance. Check the fine print and make sure you're protected if your pricey tablet suddenly grows legs and walks out unnoticed after entertaining visitors.

Additionally, many home or renter's insurance policies will limit, by default, coverage for things like jewelry. For valuable items like your grandpa's watch or hobby equipment or that budding art collection, you usually have to add a rider where you specify the items covered. A photographer friend of mine has one as an addition to his homeowner's insurance for his professional equipment.

Locks: use all of them

This survey in Apartment Therapy shows that about 12 percent of respondents leave their doors unlocked. That shows a lot of trust in humanity. In an ideal world we should be able to leave our keys in the car and sleep with doors and windows open, but we don't live in an ideal world, and it only takes one instance of having an unwanted visitor to damage your trust and potentially much more.

However, just because you have a lock on your door it doesn't mean it's any good. Even if you lock your doors at all times, common locks can be easily picked or bumped. Do a search for “bump keys” and you'll quickly find how, for a measly $3, you can purchase a master key that will open your door in seconds. This is a new trend in breaking and entering, and I'd recommend upgrading your locks with a model that's bump-resistant as soon as you can.

I recently replaced my cheapo deadbolts with commercial-grade deadbolts and cylinders. Expensive, and not impossible to force open, but it adds a level of security to my doors, and it's cheaper than my insurance deductible anyway. I went a little overboard, but you don't have to.

Not all doors are created equal

Just briefly to say that you can have a great lock, but if your door and/or frame are flimsy it's almost the same as nothing. Also, you should watch this unintentionally hilarious video which nevertheless is not just funny but also pretty cool at the same time (if you like this kind of stuff):

No need for such extremes of course, especially under normal circumstances, but you get the idea. Get solid doors.

Alarm and monitor

Of course it's nice to alert you or the neighbors when someone is trying to break in, but it's much better when the alarm actually reaches the police or a professional service so they can send a patrol car, isn't it?

Finding a good option took me a bit of research because GRS reader Babs had mentioned that alarm companies are something of a racket and have contracts “full of fine print.” Indeed, some time ago I had an alarm tech come over and offer me a “free installation” that required a two-year commitment and all manner of potential shenanigans, and I said no, thank you. (As you know, I HATE consumer contracts.)

So, here comes this alarm company that offers wireless self-installation. You pay for the hardware and they monitor the alarm for a very reasonable no-contract fee. Funny thing, it features Dave Ramsey on the website (probably because alarm contracts are such a scam, people need reassurance from Mr. Frugality). I swear an oath that I'm not shilling and I'm not getting any free product and I have no economic interest in saying this, but I'm putting in my order soon. Do you know of any other you could recommend?

An added safe

Let's face it, most people don't need a bank vault, but my locksmith swears by heavy safes that weight 600lb or more. “Don't bother with the small ones,” he told me, “they carry those away.”

If you have a monitored alarm system, all you might need is to delay the criminals while the police arrive. So even a cheap gun safe that's anchored to the wall will add a layer of protection to your valuables (but my locksmith swears by the heavy, fireproof stuff).

If you don't have the space, of if you rent your home, a bank safe-deposit box might be a place to keep important objects or documents or extra cash, provided you can wait for the bank to open.

K-9 security system

When I was a little kid our house got robbed. So my dad bought a German Shepherd. We didn't get robbed again for the next several years.

Then, the dog got an incurable disease and was “sent to a farm, to live with nice people.” And we got robbed again. Twice. So, we got another German Shepherd and, once again, no robberies.

You see the pattern. Dog = no robbery. No dog = robbery. Of course there is the feeding and the cleaning up after and the exercise and the vets and training all that, which isn't small labor or expense, when done responsibly, so this is not for everyone, but it's an option.

Of course I was just talking to someone who had dogs and got robbed anyway — the dogs were in the front and the tool sheds with all the pricey gear were in the back.

No system is perfect, but we can try — yes? Please share your strategy and tactics!

More about...Home & Garden, Insurance

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

92
Leave a Reply

avatar
newest oldest most voted
SAHMama
SAHMama

And then there is common sense, which is free! I grew up in a little town where everyone knew everyone, but my parents still instilled in me to keep the doors “locked good”. Whatever that is. Well, my husband being more trusting and forgetful, would often forget to shut the garage door or the front door at night. Last summer, he’d grilled one night for dinner. The next morning, when we went to leave for work, he realized that It Finally Happened. Someone had just walked right into the garage and taken the two iPods, his tools, the lawn mower…… Read more »

CincyCat
CincyCat

iPod + Tools + lawnmower is probably less than your state’s threshold for grand theft (which is very likely why they left the car).

I have seen in multiple places that people make it VERY easy for thieves to get into their homes by failing to lock the door leading to an attached garage. Breaking into a garage is fairly easy (especially if you have an automatic door opener), but that’s as far as they’ll get if you have proper security on the “house” door inside the garage.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

These are all great tips, but I was wondering if you have any advice for apartment dwellers? We can’t install an alarm system, change the locks, change the door or buy a big dog. I’m curious to hear what steps you take, El Nerdo 🙂 I guess it depends on the landlord. When I was looking for an apartment, I choose a building with controlled entry and I got a unit that was too high above ground for anyone to climb in the window. I also have a safe deposit box at the bank for any irreplaceable jewelry and a… Read more »

Frank
Frank

The specific laws vary by municipality, but in the handful of places I have lived, you not only can change your locks in an apartment, but it is required that the landlord do so when there is turnover. If it’s not worth arguing with your landlord on this, go ahead and change the locks yourself, and give him/her a key. Say you lost your bag and it contained your address and keys. This is not a risk worth taking – you have no idea how many people already have your key. Also, in the interest of frugality, you should seriously… Read more »

kate
kate

No, you don’t evaluate whether renters’ insurance is “worth it” for you in the interest of frugality based on how expensive your electronics are. Renters’ insurance also usually includes liability coverage. Just because you don’t own the property doesn’t mean you won’t get sued if the UPS guy slips coming up the front steps, or you have a party and someone gets hurt, or your toilet overflows and it floods the guy downstairs. A liability suit could kill you financially. It is worth a small investment of a few dollars a month to get a renters’ policy with a few… Read more »

Frank
Frank

This is all part of the probability and assumptions you need to take into consideration. You can insure yourself into bankruptcy if you don’t make educated decisions.

Stacy
Stacy

When I was renting, as little as 3 years ago, renters insurance was $190 / year.
My friend, also a renter had her apartment burn twice. Both times arson in the alley and the 2nd time it was a total loss. She was covered by renters insurance for her property. The Landlord was covered by his insurance. Her roommate did not have renters insurance was was SOL. His insurance didn’t cover her stuff.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman

Renter’s insurance is generally $150 to $200 a year. How much would it cost you to replace all your clothing, makeup, shoes, jewelry, furniture, et al.? Even if you shop thrift stores I guarantee you it will cost more than your annual premium. Probably a lot more. When I did an MSN Money article on renter’s insurance I talked with folks who were put up in hotels while their apartments were being fixed. Who had insurance agents say, “Did you write everything down that you had to buy until you could get back in?” and even paid for the bottled… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Great response, Donna 🙂 If I had seen Frank’s comment earlier, I would have said the same thing (though not so eloquently!) I’m required by the terms of my lease to have renter’s insurance, and the premiums aren’t that high. The liability coverage gives me piece of mind, and I know my emergency fund couldn’t cover replacing most of what I own. I don’t have a lot of “stuff”, but basics like furniture, clothing, dishes, pots and pans, etc. would really add up. Frank has a point that we need to be mindful of our insurance coverage, but renter’s insurance… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo

Hi Elizabeth, I live in an apartment, but it’s a small ground-level building with a few units, not a massive building, and I deal directly with the owners, not hired management. I got permission from the landlords to change the locks and install the alarm. I gave them a copy of the new key, for emergencies, and when I put the alarm they’ll have their code. My experience in large buildings with controlled access is that they’ve had steel doors and better locks than average. But this will of course vary between properties– of course safety is an important thing… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Thanks for the reply! I’m not sure I could go to that much effort. Given the size of my building, I’m not even sure it’s possible, but it doesn’t hurt to know.

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am

I rent as well. This is the reason I don’t live in a first floor apartment.

Barbara
Barbara

And don’t forget, just in case the systems you are using fail, that it’s difficult to have insurance replace things when you don’t remember what you have. Sit down right now and try to make a list of all of the items in your kitchen, or closet, or garage. Not easy, is it? 🙂 To help protect yourself – not only in cases of theft, but also fire or other disasters – it’s a good idea to take the time to have a completed home inventory – stored someplace other than your home. The Insurance Information Institute offers free home… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I’ve read where people create videos room my room, opening up closets and drawers. You can also take pictures and store them on a thumb drive in safe deposit box. I think the trick is to store a copy of your inventory off site in case there is a fire or other disaster.

peter
peter

Don’t invest in doors that are too good (cf. the movie). I live in an apartment, and my door is the only access. A door does not only keep burglars out, but also me should I loose my keys. If I have to replace the entire door or wall in such a case, this will cost me a fortune. Your protection systems have to be good enough to discourage burglars, but not full burglar-proof.

CincyCat
CincyCat

Also, don’t forget that you may need to get OUT in a hurry if there is smoke or fire in your house/apartment. Mr. CincyCat insisted on double-key deadbolts in our house on exterior doors with glass, which makes me very nervous. I *really* hope that we can get out the ONE door that does not have glass in the event that we would need to one day.

Joe
Joe

Don’t worry about making it to secure. You could always give a ket to somebody that you trust.

peter
peter

And just adding: you also want the fire dept to be able to get in. We have very strong doors. At my neighbour’s place, it took the fire dept a full 3 minutes to get through the front door. By that time, the place was full ablaze. But yes, it keeps burglars out…

Tom
Tom

Here’s the obligatory “a German Shepherd may actually raise your insurance rates” post (assuming you report that to your homeowner’s insurance company). I think you would be especially at risk if you trained or encouraged it to be confrontational with strangers.

Also, buying a shepherd (or any dog) for sole purpose of security is like investing $1000 a year in a security system. I think that’s a pretty conservative estimate of vet bills, medications, licensing, relatively inexpensive dog food, and various supplies.

Steve
Steve

And that’s just the monetary cost. You also have to consider the hour+ every day to walk, feed, and otherwise take care of the animal. Getting a dog as a security measure makes about as much sense as having a child as a retirement plan. In both cases, the return on investment is not even close to worth it, mathematically. So the only reason to do either is because you want one anyways.

LeRainDrop
LeRainDrop

In a short women’s safety course presented at my office, the speaker recommended that, whether you own a dog or not, you post a “beware of dog” sign and put out big dog bowls in a visible area, preferably labeled with an intimidating name like “Spike” or “Rocky” or “Killer.” One friend of mine lives in a rough neighborhood (including neighbors who are not entirely trustworthy) and she actually borrows another friend’s pit bull mix at least once a week so that she can parade him around on an hour walk or so. Has worked for her so far.

Robin
Robin

I work in law enforcement and my home was burglarized in March. I of course have all the dead bolt locks, locking windows, fencing, etc. and 2 dogs. The person got in anyway, did an incredible amount of damage to my fence, windows, doors, and just to add injury to insult… one of my dogs fought with the burglar and ended up with a bunch of broken teeth! I am thankful she is still alive and just has a funny look now that she is missing her canine tooth and several other front ones but the point is, stuff happens.… Read more »

LeRainDrop
LeRainDrop

Robin, that sounds like a horrifying experience, and I’m so sorry to hear it. Very sad that your dog was injured, despite being a valiant protector of the home, though I’m glad she is doing okay now. You are so right when you say “all the safety tips in the world will help but will not stop someone determined enough.”

Michael
Michael

I killed our goldfish last night while changing its water. Apparently I’m not ready for pets. (my kids are all alive still though…)

M
M

I have the obligatory German Shepherd, and as one living in a rural area, she’s worth the cost. If nothing else she’s a layer of defense when I’m home alone. I swear–Shepherds will defend their owners with their lives! She also patrols our fence line, performs varmint control, and herds our livestock. Cheaper than hiring help.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies

I’d add don’t think a gate around your community is going to protect you!

A friend of ours lives in a high end gated community, but there has been a rash of robberies in many homes on her street.

mark
mark

Protecting stuff is important. Protecting your life, more so.

A good pistol or home defense shotgun will handle those protection needs.

Laura
Laura

I agree with El Nerdo on this one. My uncle-in-law came home one day to find the house burglarized and his shotgun missing. The thief later used the shotgun in a murder. Although u-i-l wasn’t to blame, he still wound up having to testify in the murder trial because it was his gun. While I think the shotgun was returned to him, he quickly got rid of it because it had been used to kill someone (he does have another).

Kevin
Kevin

You can usually add an endorsement to your property insurance policies to get replacement cost value instead of actual cash value. You are in no means stuck picking up the slack from depreciation.

And your friend should look into getting commercial inland marine insurance if he is using his photo equipment to make money — if the insurance company finds out after a loss involving his photo equipment that he uses it to make money, there will be some explaining for him to do and possibly a claim denial.

CN
CN

Doesn’t have to be a German shepherd. I have a large, fuzzy mutt who is an absolute sweetheart – and has an occasional, appropriate bark. Despite living in a sketchy area code, we’ve never been burgled.

Steve
Steve

Unfortunately, this anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove that dogs prevent burglaries, in the same way that saying “I’ve been driving for X years and never had an accident” doesn’t prove that your immune to accidents.

Robin
Robin

My dog got 3 teeth broken out of her mouth fighting a burglar in my home. He still took $30k worth of stuff, did some serious damage and left me with a bloody crime scene to clean up.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman

How timely! I actually recently wrote a post on how to protect your car from theft and break-in. And shamefully, I used to break into cars when I was younger, so I gave the advice from the thiefs viewpoint. Feel free to check it out (link below), but if you don’t have the time, the two main points I wanted to make sure people knew was this: (1) it took us 20 seconds to break into cars, steal what we wanted, and be gone. That’s not much time. So NEVER leave your car unlocked or open, even for a few… Read more »

stellamarina
stellamarina

It is shocking how many visitors to Hawaii here who leave valuables in their rental car while at the beach. Along comes some guys in a van, they jump out the side door, pop several rental car trunks in a few seconds, grab and are gone with all your stuff.

Shawn G
Shawn G

We have two dogs in our house – not for protection reasons, but they certainly help. If you walk up to our door with the intention of robbing the place and hear two decent sized dogs barking, you’ll definitely think twice. Plus it gives my wife a sense of peace when I’m gone overnight.

Peter
Peter

Can’t agree more with TB, Light is a huge detractor. Motion sensor flood lights around the outside of the house, especially in areas that aren’t viewable from the street are important.

As well as good doors and bump proof deadbolts. I would also recommend a product called Door Devil (I am not associated, but I am a satisfied customer). It reinforces the door frame to prevent your door from being kicked in.

Cgirl
Cgirl

I was extremely saddened to see “get a dog” on this list. Last week a neighborhood girl was walking her dog when it was attacked by a unlicensed, aggressive dog. The poor girl watched as her dog was killed.

There are in my opinion too many untrained dogs around. I dislike encouraging people to get dogs without thinking about what responsibilities go along with owning that animal.

Beth
Beth

Agreed. In addition, your municipality may have restrictions regarding the type of dog you can have (mine does!). In my suburb, I get so furious when I read the police blotter. Not a week goes by where I don’t read of at least one instance where a woman left her purse in her car, only to have it stolen. I understand you can’t bring your purse with you everywhere – and women’s pants typically don’t have pockets to stash keys, ID and cash – but you should at the very least throw a blanket over your brand-new Coach purse if… Read more »

Steve
Steve

The average women’s pants may not have pockets, but cannot a woman choose her own pants? And thus only buy pants with pockets?

Cgirl
Cgirl

Not really. While that is possible, it’s not practical. Pants aren’t so bad, but trying to find dresses and skirts with pockets are a PITA.
It seems really unfair to say “just buy dresses with pockets” when I can’t think of one store in my town (well over 100,000 people) that sells dresses with pockets in my size.

Beth
Beth

Cgirl is right. You really can’t find nice pants for women with pockets (or at least pockets deep enough to stash stuff). Women’s pants are supposed to look sleek and are unforgiving if you start using any pockets.

IME, even jeans don’t have deep pockets for women. If I stuff cash and my license in my pockets, I always have to do it a certain way or else everything falls out the moment I sit down/stand/walk.

Penny
Penny

Getting a dog doesn’t equal getting an untrained, violent attack dog. And the OP mentions training, care, vet bills – basically that there are time and money costs. But dogs can contribute to home protection so seem like they make sense to include on this list. Our dog is the perfect combo (in my opinion 🙂 he’s a great big softie, but looks and sounds scary, and loves to show off his big bark at passing skateboarders. But we’re pretty sure if someone (confidently) walked into our home, he’d wag his tail and lick them. Actually that pretty much happened… Read more »

Ash (in US)
Ash (in US)

I actually read somewhere that it’s better to get one of those little yappy dogs to alert the neighbors and whatnot.

Peggy
Peggy

Well, Luke 12:33 is as safe as it gets, and that is where most of my things went. It is actually a huge relief, because I was spending far more on storing, organizing, cleaning, and protecting those things than I was getting out of them in pleasure or use. It was fun to acquire all that Stuff, but it was time to let it go. The items that were really special to me, I remember well, and they are keeping well in my memory.

SAHMama
SAHMama

I love this. We don’t have much for valuables, so considering that whoever burglarized us, stole ipods that were old, and handtools (hammers, chisels, wrenches) that were nothing fancy, and an electric lawnmower… they probably got about the best of what we had!

LauraElle
LauraElle

One of the things I do to protect my home is to keep the exterior very simple. It looks like people live here- the lawn is mowed, the hedges trimmed, ect.- but it doesn’t look too nice. The landscaping is simple, the exterior of my home is in good repair but very boring. It fades away, no one really notices my house. Of course, I also have a dog, motion activated lights, and a chime by the driveway and front door (you walk by, it chimes- inside and out). (I’ll also look into the above recommended alarm system. I do… Read more »

Babs
Babs

Great article! Unfortunately my warning about security systems was based on a bad experience. That wireless system looks great. I hope it works out for you. We like to keep our windows open much of the year and I wonder how that would work with the system. Some cities charge fines if you have more than 3 false alarms so that is something to keep in mind. I agree with those who suggest motion detector lights, I think those can be a great deterrent. One more thing when looking for a place to live – make sure there is more… Read more »

Sam
Sam

Updating our insurance was on our list for this year and we’ve slowly been making progress. We increased our car insurance coverage but reduced our overall cost. Doing so will provide us better protection if we hit someone else or someone hits us. http://adventures-of-sam.blogspot.com/2012/08/other-homework.html We also are in the process of getting an umbrella insurance policy which will provide us with extra liability protection for our home and for our rental properties as well as for our cars (above our increased coverage noted above). http://adventures-of-sam.blogspot.com/2012/09/more-on-insurance-home-work.html We also have a rider policy for my wedding band and engagement ring. I’ve thought… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy

Our house is certainly not burglar-proof, but I ditto what other people said about dogs. whatever house we have lived in, we have never been broken into when the dog or dogs have been in the house. One question; what if your front door is not the most secure but you don’t want to replace it due to esthetics? Our front door is entirely made of glass planes, and so can definitely be broken into (we do have a deadbolt on the door) but it is original to the 1920’s house and it would be a shame to replace it… Read more »

Mel
Mel

I replaced my ugly steel door with a glass vintage door. I had the glass replaced with some sort of super strong glass. I also have a 2 key lock. I leave the key on a lanyard in the lock while I am around but at night I hang it out of reach of the door so if someone smashes through they still can’t unlock it. Strangely the glass door SAVED me from losing something. 4 AM the dog was making noise. I went downstairs and caught sight of a man clipping my bike chain on the porch. I was… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy

I’ll look into whether replacing the glass portions would be possible (best of both worlds). The door is a non-uniform size, so even replacing it with a plain solid door would have to go custom (=$$). We have a curtain panel over the glass panes, but I really do like having the ability to look through the door.

Catherine
Catherine

Here are two other suggestions that rarely get mentioned:

Laminating windows and doors so that they don’t shatter when broken.

Planting cactus or another thorny plant outside of windows you want to leave open.

My Christmas present this year is window laminate. Can’t wait.

Lyn @ Pretty Frugal
Lyn @ Pretty Frugal

I’ve never been broken into (knock on wood) but this is a reminder that I really need to get on the ball about renters insurance. Though I don’t have a lot of expensive things, the policy through USAA allows me to protect my stuff on the go, too, like my brand new laptop. The back door of my apartment has glass panels and I’m so paranoid that we’ll be broken into one day. Not to mention my roommates constantly leaving the window open onto the back porch when no one is home. Shall we send the scary criminals an engraved… Read more »

Laura
Laura

Not sure this story has practical value for most readers, but it’s entertaining: One friend of mine came home one day to find the door broken in and the apartment burglarized, with valuables missing…until he came to one certain room in his home. The room where he kept: – His large collection of ritual knives from various tribes native to Africa (his mother was an anthropologist and brought them back as gifts) – His two pet pythons (caged, but they were big puppies, like 12 feet long as he took quite good care of them) – A fake but life-sized… Read more »

partgypsy
partgypsy

I think there is a similar story of Dolph Lungren’s apartment being broken into. Where they saw his photo they dumped everything and left.

lmoot
lmoot

Thank goodness I don’t have anything worth stealing! I just have to worry about myself. Stuff is just stuff, even the sentimental.

Kelly
Kelly

Unfortunately, we had our property damaged once. The outside was vandalized and windows and screens were broken. They did not take anything. What we later found out was that in the driver’s license system, our address was wrongly listed for someone involved in a lawsuit. Someone was trying to get revenge and had the wrong house.

So, it is not necessarily just protecting items of value such as cash or jewlery. It is also about protecting items that are costly to repair when damaged.

Anni
Anni

Very good reminders. I had renter’s insurance when I had both kids at home. Now that it’s just me, I don’t. It’s not that I don’t have anything of value, but the things I truly value are family heirlooms that couldn’t be replaced anyway and would only be lost in a fire as they have no “street value”. I do have a pretty nice bed. I got it free so I forget it would cost $2500 to replace it! The new year is as good a time as any to do a home inventory and re-evaluate. My door is flimsy… Read more »

Beth
Beth

Even if you don’t have anything of value, you still have “stuff.” Clothing, kitchen appliances, etc. – while my stuff isn’t anything fancy, I also wouldn’t want to have to replace every last item without at least something covered by renter’s insurance, KWIM?

Anni
Anni

Good point, Beth. I do have an espresso machine and a Hello Kitty toaster that I love. I’m just not sure I have enough to insure. Do you (or anyone reading this) know the minimum coverage required for a policy? When I had renter’s insurance before, the company I went through had a $25000 min.

Bryallen @ The Frugal Graduate
Bryallen @ The Frugal Graduate

Hello! I’ve been meaning to get renter’s insurance for the past month or so, and this post is definitely making me put it at the top of my to do list.

Anyway, the company I’m probably going to go with (in the UK) will insure as little as £3000 of stuff, which when you consider your computer, clothes, TV or whatever will certainly add up quite quickly, so you can probably get a lot lower than $24000!

Ash (in US)
Ash (in US)

I went with State Farm a few years back and their min was 8k. You should be able to call around and check in most places.

Ivy
Ivy

I just went through the exercise of doing my home inventory – no special software, just a long Excel list and photos of most things. It takes a lot of time, as a claim would require (my insurance agent says) that you list or estimate everything. The good news is they check for consistency with lifestyle – so hopefully if there is a fire and I claim 10 shirts, they won’t ask me to prove I didn’t have only 9:-) However, I’ve had hell of a time getting my insurance company to confirm what kind of policy I have. I… Read more »

TTMK
TTMK

Very important to take protective measures with our valuables. Really, insurance only goes so far and doesn’t solve all discomfort of these types of situations.

A big thing these days is protecting ourselves electonically, in terms of access to our online accounts and information.

Dave
Dave

Another idea – move to somewhere with less crime. I lived in Boston for 5 years, was robbed 6 times. So I moved out.

Sheryl
Sheryl

K-9 security has worked well for my family in the past. My last dog was the sweetest dog ever with people she knew but was very territorial and would raise a fuss around anyone at the door. In the couple of times that burglars tried to hit our street while she was around our house was left completely alone. I try to keep my space safe more so than investing in insurance (which I do have) simply because the things that are most valuable to me are irreplaceable (family heirloom furniture, original art made by friends, gifts) and no amount… Read more »

betttylion
betttylion

I love my canine security system! A couple years ago all the homes around us were broken into. Our wasn’t; I can only attribute it to the dogs. (Good size Lab mixes). Since they were young I’ve encouraged them to bark at noises outside & knocks on the door. If I say “What was that?” it’s a cue for them to start barking madly. Of course, dogs aren’t cheap. My dogs are my “kids” and I rush them to the vet for the slightest worry. 😛 (That’s why I have pet health insurance.) But, I also get exercise and love… Read more »

Judy
Judy

When we bought our house, it came with a pre-installed alarm system. We just had to find a place to do the monitoring since we already owned the equipment. And, even without contract the typical $25 a month for security monitoring sounded just ridiculously high. We went with http://www.alarmrelay.com/ . They do have a bit of fine print, make sure you read their pricing policy link on the bottom which spells out the true cost beyond their marketing, which I’ve found to be accurate. It’s ~$10.50-$12 a month, when paid annually, which is considerably less than other services, and the… Read more »

thethriftyspendthrift
thethriftyspendthrift

When my husband and I move into our new apartment, we will finally be purchasing insurance on our unit because we will actually be owning it. I think this is the perfect time to actually work on an inventory. It’s time consuming but I’m not the type of person to remember what I have or what I did five minutes ago. 🙂 I’ve always changed my apartment locks whenever I wanted to—sometimes they’ve been broken. I just hand the super a new set of keys when I’m finished. We live in a very safe building (please don’t remind me about… Read more »

Kathleen, Frugal Portland
Kathleen, Frugal Portland

I never, ever lock my doors. But I think I’m in a really unique situation where I live in the basement of a home where my landlord works from home (and also lives in the part of the house with all the good stuff!). Getting robbed is a scary thought.

Adrian
Adrian

I did a post on my blog just last week abt this topic. We have been victim to at least 4 major robberies, and several small incidents, so I’m a big believer in home security. Definitely yes on the dead bolts, k9 solution, as well as window locks, security lights, and keeping your bushes trimmed. I also offer this tidbit. Choose your home carefully. All our robberies occurred when we were at the end of a block without close neighbors to watch our home. Now we choose homes in the center of a block with fenced yards on all sides… Read more »

TW
TW

While we’re at it, what about guard cats? We have a large cat who is quite terrtorial. He’s backed a few strangers into a corner.

We have a dog, too, but the cat rules the roost.

Now if anyone has a guard llama, I’d love to hear about that!

Penny
Penny

Ha! Our cat’s aren’t so brave, in fact one is so scared of all strangers that once when I forgot to lock the house when walking the dogs, I reasoned that since he was out lounging and relaxing in the house that no one could have snuck in!

He’s a reverse motion detector 😉

M
M

I have an grumpy sheep who knocks the stuffing out of my German Shepherd. And a rooster– man, he’s EVIL. Will forcefully attack anyone who looks at him the wrong way. I named him Joe Pesci.

Joel
Joel

I would caution against locks and doors that are too secure. You don’t want to make it too hard for firefighters to get in if needed.

jim
jim

I’m sure if a firefighter needed to get in they could just break a window.

skeptic
skeptic

El Nerdo,

The wireless system sounds excellent in theory, but I’d like to suggest that it can be breached with a simple $20 cell phone blocker… if the potential intruders know what kind of system you have, or if the wireless systems become popular enough that the blockers start to be used frequently.

maria
maria

I agree we should have quality doors that cannot be kicked/smashed in. But, the reality is the locked door is as much a psychological deterrent as a physical one. Take 2 steps to the left or right and go through the wall. It is easier to bust through 2 sheets of drywall. Depending on the setting (office, apartment, etc) you can always go over/under/around. Pretend youve lost your house/car/office keys… can you get in? How quickly? How quietly? Use that knowledge to protect your home.

Maria

Brad C
Brad C

I’d stay away from simplisafe.com. They have been promising fire alarms/monitoring for nearly 3 years and still don’t have it. Since my home insurance discount is because of my current system’s fire monitoring (they couldn’t care less about a burglar alarm) these guys are not currently an option. And I don’t want to do business with a company that promises things for years and never delivers.

jim
jim

We have a Simplisafe system. Its a very good value, no contract, easy to install. Certainly worth checking out if you want a alarm system. WAY better value than the companies like ADT.

Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}
Lauren {Adventures in Flip Flops}

Agreed about the dogs, but with everyone else’s caveat that security is just a bonus. Growing up we had two lazy mutts who were no more than 40 lbs each. They didn’t do much and weren’t trained (actually, we, their people were well trained to give snacks and walks!) but they sure sounded scary! One night, my dad fell asleep on the couch and heard Rowdy, our boy, give one of his deep “I’m pretending to be a big scary dog” barks out of no-where. He went outside to investigate and found the back gate opened and a screen taken… Read more »

Deborah
Deborah

Most everyone that has posted so far has indicated that their canine alarm systems/burglar protection have been loved and cared for pets, and their presence or size acting as a theft deterrent is a bonus. But I’ve seen situations where dogs used as burglar alarms are neglected. Dogs are social, pack animals. Never interacting with them except to fill up the food dish and water bowl is extreme cruelty. So PLEASE don’t get a dog if the only interest you have in it is the protection it provides your stuff.

katherine
katherine

When it comes to dogs, I would wonder about the motivation of the burglar. Many years ago I worked in a prison, and although we didn’t get may robbers, because we generally had more violent offenders, I used to ask robbers what they went for, what was a deterrent, and why they did it. Provided they were telling the truth, the ones who did it for items that would provide quick money for drugs weren’t armed and a dog was a deterrent. The ones who did it for guns and quick money by stealing bigger ticket items, like fancy electronics… Read more »

James C
James C

Locks are good for security, but even better are quality security systems. The new technology blows the old stuff out of the water, we wrote about the new > smart home technology here, check it out

Otherwise ya, it’s always smart to keep security in mind and plan things out well,
cheers from us at fivestaralarm.com!

annie
annie

I never though that I would be robbed. I keep my doors and windows locked, but teens who I had hired to cut my lawn, decided to break into my house while I was at work. one teen left my house carrying off my lighweight flat screen tv and other things. What helped was that my neighbor saw the whole thing on his video security system which happen to point towards my side yard. My neighbor called 911 and watched the robbery on his monitor. The robber took my stuff to his home across the street and hid it behind… Read more »

Chuck
Chuck

Great article! I enjoyed the video as well. Yes! Insurance is not enough! We need to protect ourselves there are so many great products/ideas/tricks out there that could help!

shares