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What can you do about lost items from an apartment robbery if you don’t have renter's insurance? My girlfriend's apartment was broken into while she was away. They took her new laptop, messed up her room, and she is pretty shaken up. She called the store where she bought the laptop and the three-year warranty, and they said they couldn't do anything. On top of that, they informed her that since she bought it on a payment plan, she still has to pay off the remaining $800 of the purchase price. Is there anything we can do, if not to get the laptop back or replaced, then to at least ensure she doesn't have to continue paying for a non-existent laptop? I can't do anything about the files and photos she's lost, but hopefully I can help find a way to financially ease the trauma.

Dan

Unfortunately, Dan, you are what insurance agents secretly refer to as SOOL. The laptop's warranty only covers problems incurred during normal use, not theft, and your girlfriend is responsible for the outstanding payments owed to the store. To put it another way, if fashion-starved thieves broke into your apartment and stole all your pants, would you be able to get free khakis at Banana Republic?

Gothamist doesn't mean to be flippant as we understand that even a minor robbery can be frightening, but your girlfriend's story underscores the importance of having renters insurance. Using a handy rate quote calculator, we were able to find basic coverage for only $14 per month after typing in our address, a few specifics about our building, and the value of our belongings. Some policies are even less expensive, depending on such factors as personal liability coverage and the size of your deductible. Shop around. For more information, RentLaw.com features a section on renters insurance with specifics for New Yorkers.

In the meantime, Dan, the best advice Gothamist can give you is to appeal to the electronics store's better graces and ask for a discount on a new laptop, since your girlfriend will soon be bringing them additional business.