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Living on-base or off, Air Force highly recommends renters insurance

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND AFB, Texas (AFNS) -- Airmen and their families leasing or renting housing on or off the installation need to be aware of the importance of renters insurance.

Unforeseen fires, floods, theft or accidents can occur in anyone’s residence and Airmen need to understand the importance of protecting their families from financial hardship should such losses occur.

The Air Force strongly encourages all service members, whether they rent off base or in privatized housing, to purchase renters insurance to make sure valuable items can be replaced in case of loss due to unforeseen circumstances. Property managers will not be responsible for damages to personal property.

For service members living in privatized housing, the Department of Defense announced a policy change in December 2014 that removed the renters insurance portion of a service members Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH. As a result, the Air Force eliminated any rental insurance requirement from its privatized housing agreements.

The policy change doesn’t negate current project obligations to provide renters insurance. It does, however, allow housing project owners the flexibility to independently decide if they will continue to provide renters insurance as part of a new or renewed lease. As a result, service members signing a lease to live in privatized homes may no longer be covered by project owner-provided renters insurance and should purchase renters insurance out of pocket, as their colleagues who live off base currently do.

“(The Air Force Civil Engineer Center) works with installation Housing Management Offices to ensure they provide information on not only the policy change but an understanding that renter’s insurance provides coverage for loss, damage, or destruction of property,” said Col. Michael Beach, the AFCEC Division chief for Family Housing. “Living without renters insurance can have a substantial impact on Airmen and their families, although Air Force does not require residents to carry renters insurance on their personal belongings, it is strongly encouraged.”

Before purchasing renters insurance, consider the following:
• Know what the policy covers.
• Most policies will cover the actual cash value or replacement cost of your personal belongings.
• Know who the policy covers.
• Renters insurance typically covers spouses and immediate family members who live with you. Some policies even cover dogs.
• Know how much coverage you need.
• A general policy may cover most of your belongings, but high-value items such as jewelry, expensive sports or musical equipment and collectibles may need additional coverage based on appraisal amounts.
• Buy from an insurer licensed to do business in your state.
• If you are moving to a new location, verify with your insurer that your policy is valid at your new duty station.
• Look for multi-line discounts. Purchasing renters insurance from a company you already have a policy with can save you money. Start with your car insurance provider, for example.
• Shop around and compare prices.
• Don’t get more coverage than you need and ask for military discount options.
• Ensure your policy meets any minimum coverage amounts your landlord or project owner may require.

Renters insurance is a smart and inexpensive investment. Prior to your next permanent change of station, or if you are currently living in on- or off-base housing, contact your local Housing Management Office by going to http://www.housing.af.mil/. The housing team can assist with contacting local insurance agents to review your personal needs.