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Big name companies a good bet for renters insurance

Surveys show that most renters don't bother with insurance coverage. You may regret that in the event of a fire, flood or other disaster that destroys your personal property. Experts say rental insurance is highly affordable and should be considered a necessity.

Unlike homeowners insurance, which we cover elsewhere in this report, where smaller companies rule the roost when it comes to customer satisfaction, bigger companies move to the front when it comes to renters. It's not all smooth sailing, however. J.D. Power and Associates notes an overall drop in satisfaction with renters insurance in its most recent report. Policy holders are grousing a bit when it comes to satisfaction with billing and payment, and in their satisfaction with their interactions with the company.

People who want to get a quick, comprehensive quote for their rental insurance should take a look at State Farm. Praised for an extensive website with a host of resources, State Farm also offers renters a convenient mobile app and the option of working with agents or directly with the company, no matter where they live. The company scores highly for its customer service, a rarity among big name insurers.

Customer service and claims are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and coverage is available nationwide via an extensive network of agents, or by phone or online. Though some homeowners grouse about premiums, expert reviewers say renters shouldn't worry -- State Farm's insurance rates are competitive.

GEICO doesn't offer renters insurance directly, instead it places it with partner companies. No matter, experts and users say, as most are very happy with the rental insurance they've obtained from the company -- so much so that it just nips out (by a single point) State Farm in the latest J.D. Power and Associates survey of customer satisfaction with renters insurance.

Price is one reason why. No surprise says Pamela S Stevens at TopTenReviews.com. Because of the huge volume of business it writes for its partner carriers, GEICO can shop for and offer lower quotes to its customers -- lower even than those offered directly by those partner companies, Stevens says. You can get quotes online, and discounts are available based on safety and security features in your apartment or other rental property, your past claims record, and by bundling other insurance, such as auto.

There's a good selection of policy offerings available to meet the needs of most renters. If you want to deal with an agent, however, look elsewhere as all rental insurance is sold directly, and you'll also have to rely on the partner insurer should a claim arise.

Liberty Mutual, another large insurer with nationwide reach, also offers conveniences that renters will appreciate, like a 24-hour repair service that offers an expedited process for emergency fixes no matter how or when the disaster occurs. Like State Farm, coverage is nationwide via phone, computer or a network of local agents, and customer service and claims are accessible 24/7, including a convenient online chat.

Experts say Liberty Mutual's online coverage calculator and quote tools can help renters get a firm grasp on the coverage they need and what they'll have to pay. A mobile app also earns praise. Liberty Mutual offers some renter-specific discounts, and experts say rates are competitive. However, homeowners give the company mixed reviews for customer service, and its financial ratings aren't as solid as those of some of its competitors.

Finally, experts say Allstate Insurance is another consideration for renters. Reviews.com Fletcher Wilson gives kudos to the company for the quality of its online tools, including tools to estimate the amount of coverage you need, and an online Digital Locker to which you can upload a photographic record of your belongings. Getting a quote online is a bit more of a challenge, Wilson says, as the quote tool for rental insurance is a pain to find on the company's site. More concerning, however, is that Allstate draws mixed or poor ratings in most large studies of policy-holder satisfaction.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Reviewed Homeowners Insurance: Whether you need a policy for a castle or a studio apartment, insurance coverage is a must. These are the best companies for homeowner, condo-owner and renter insurance.

Best Homeowners Insurance: Research shows that not all homeowners insurance companies are created equally. These are the insurance carriers that experts and customers say stand by you the best in times of need.

Buying Guide: There's a dizzying array of options when it comes to insurance for homeowners or renters. Our buying guide will help you find the right policy and company for your needs.

Our Sources: These are the sources we relied on to find the best bets in homeowners insurance. They include large surveys and expert and user reviews.

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