Apartment life has its advantages.

No repair worries when the roof leaks or the basement floods, the pipes freeze or the boiler explodes. The landlord is responsible for all that.

All tenants must be concerned with is taking care of their personal property. And if it isn't properly insured, they could be asking for trouble.

Personal property that took years to accumulate can be lost in minutes by fire or theft. The owner of a building that has gone up in smoke will be compensated for his or her loss through homeowner's insurance. However, the tenants, unless they were protected by renter's insurance, get nothing.

To make matters worse, for many who are just starting out, their apartments are their first homes. And they may not realize the value of all those wedding gifts and new bedroom or kitchen sets -- until they've lost them.

Personal liability suits are a growing menace that can mean financial disaster for the unprotected. One insurance agent told of a typical case in which his client was protected by renter's insurance. The client and a friend were involved in a golf-cart accident, and the friend filed suit for $20,000.

The Insurance Information Institute cites other benefits afforded by HO-4 policies, as they are called. They range from medical payments for minor accidents to payment for accidental damage to the property of others. These policies also allow for additional living expenses if you can't occupy your home or apartment because of loss from an insured peril.

Most policies are written for a minimum of $6,000 in property loss coverage.

Experts are full of suggestions to those considering renter's insurance:

Shop around. Rates not only vary by location but by as much as 25 percent from one company to another.

Don't take the minimum $25,000 liability coverage. A lot of agents won't even write anything less than $300,000 -- and for the few dollars' cost, it is a bargain.