If you have renter's insurance, don't assume the policy covers a satellite dish. Even if it does, it's no guarantee you get paid for mechanical malfunctions, power surges and problems with cables. You also may not be covered for damage the dish does to the landlord's property. Understanding the status of your dish will help when you make a claim.
Leasing vs. Renting
You can lease or buy a satellite dish when you subscribe to a satellite television service. The dish isn’t considered private property when leased, which means most rental insurances won’t cover it under those terms. That's when you'll need a liability clause within the rental insurance policy in case the dish harms the property. On the other hand, an owner can list the dish as a personal item just like a computer or phone. Any damage the dish does under those terms will be handled by the liability coverage.
The Fine Print Matters
Being clear about what's covered in the rental insurance policy matters. Specifically, if you own the dish and something happens to it, you need to know if you’ll only be paid for the dish value at the time it's damaged. That could be less than what a new dish costs. If you lease one, you can ask the leasing company if its insurance will replaces a damaged dish. If so, then you won’t need that coverage on the renter’s insurance policy.
Taking the Inventory Route
You can always attach an inventory sheet to the policy that includes a dish you own. If the policy expressly states everything on the list is covered, and the agent approves it, you’re in the clear. If you had a rental policy before you bought the dish, you need to ask your agent to add it to that inventory list.
A Policy of its Own
If you feel uncomfortable with the terms of the renter's policy coverage, you can get insurance specifically for the dish. Companies that specialize in dish coverage will protect it against physical damage and power surges. Sometimes, they'll even guarantee a repair person will show up in case of malfunctions. No renter's insurance coverage is necessary if you take this route.
Kevin Johnston writes for Ameriprise Financial, the Rutgers University MBA Program and Evan Carmichael. He has written about business, marketing, finance, sales and investing for publications such as "The New York Daily News," "Business Age" and "Nation's Business." He is an instructional designer with credits for companies such as ADP, Standard and Poor's and Bank of America.