If you own your own home, you most likely have homeowners’ insurance.
Most renters do not have renters’ insurance. They should.
Most renters don’t buy insurance for one of two reasons. First, a lot of renters are low on available funds (or they’d buy, right?), and see insurance as a luxury they just can’t afford (sort of like health insurance, right?). Second, they don’t think it’s worth it. They figure their stuff is old or in bad condition, and that they’ll just go out and buy new stuff, if and when they need to.
It’s better to buy the insurance. A typical policy might run you about $250 a year, I think. That’ll cover $25,000 or so of personal property (make sure you get "replacement cost" coverage, not "actual cost" – you want to be able to afford to buy what things cost today, not what you paid ten years ago). Mention to your insurance agent if you have expensive stuff like a computer, or something of value like 1,000 CDs. Make a complete list of all items in your home. ALL items.
One neat thing is that often, some policies will cover your personal items if you go on vacation. So, if someone breaks into your rental car and steals things while you’re traveling overseas, you might be able to get reimbursed.
Some policies will pay to put you up in a hotel, if you can’t stay in your current apartment, say if there was a fire or earthquake.
An article on this by Lore Croghan appears in today’s New York Daily News.