However, any insurance your landlord has will not protect your personal property. In the event your apartment burns down or a burglar breaks in and steals your belongings, you want to make sure you’re protected. Few people could afford the replacement cost if their belongings were damaged or destroyed, which is why renters insurance is so important.
But, what exactly does renters insurance cover? Read this guide to find out.
What Is Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance covers your belongings in the event of theft, fire, or other natural disasters. It can also help you pay your legal expenses if you were sued for someone being harmed in your apartment.
In many ways, renters insurance is like homeowners insurance, but it’s designed for those who don’t own their home. However, renters insurance is much cheaper than homeowners insurance, as it only costs about $15-$30 per month. This is because renters insurance only covers the belongings in your home, and not the structure of the property itself.
While renters insurance isn’t legally required, many landlords and apartment complexes request it. Even if your landlord doesn’t require it, it’s still a good idea to purchase it, as you’ll want to protect your personal belongings.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Before purchasing renters insurance, it’s important to understand what it covers.
One of the main features of renters insurance is that it covers personal property. This includes more than just your clothes and furniture. It also includes appliances, electronics, dishes, kitchen gadgets, sporting equipment, TVs, books, and just about anything you own.
However, you’ll only be reimbursed if damage to the property occurs due to a specific event. These events may include:
- Lightning or fire
- Windstorm or hail
- The weight of snow, sleet, or ice
- Riots or civil commotion
- Volcanic eruptions
- Falling objects
- Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft
- Freezing of certain appliances or household items
- Accidental discharge of steam or water
- Accidental, sudden damage from artificial electric current
- Accidental and sudden burning, cracking, bulging, or tearing apart of certain household systems
While the term “personal property” is pretty broad, be aware that it does not include damage to your vehicle or pets. However, the good thing about renters insurance is that your items aren’t just covered when you’re in your home, but also when you’re out and about. For example, if your bike gets stolen while you’re out shopping, you may be able to get reimbursed.
However, keep in mind that there’s usually a limit in terms of how much coverage you have outside of the home. Most insurance companies will only reimburse up to 10% of your total property coverage.
Loss of use
Renters insurance will also cover you in the event your dwelling becomes uninhabitable. For example, let’s say you can’t live in your home for a period of time because there was a fire. In this event, renters insurance will pay for your living costs, such as hotel bills and restaurant meals, while your home is being repaired.
Be aware, though, for loss of use, the insurance company typically only covers the cost difference. That is, you’ll need to calculate how much you’d spend cooking at home versus how much you end up spending eating out, and your insurance company will pay you the difference.
Renters insurance also serves as liability insurance in the event of someone getting injured in your home. If someone gets hurt on your property and decides to sue, your financial stability could be ruined.
This is why renters insurance is so important, as it’ll pay out for someone else’s injury on your property. Renters insurance also covers damage you may inadvertently cause to another person’s belongings.
Similar to liability coverage, medical payment coverage will be paid out if someone gets hurt at your rental property. The difference between medical payment coverage and liability insurance is that the former will be paid out regardless of who’s at fault for the injury, and the latter pays out only if you’re the one responsible.
In addition to the above, you can also opt for additional coverage at an extra cost. Most insurance companies let you customize your policy, so you can choose which add-ons you’d like and leave the rest out. Here are some of the most common additional coverage options:
Replacement cost coverage
Renters insurance covers your items for their actual cash value. In other words, if your couch gets ruined in a fire but is 10 years old, you’ll only get enough cash to cover a couch of the same value, so you probably won’t have enough to buy a new one. With replacement cost coverage, you’ll get enough money to purchase new items.
Water backup coverage
You may be able to add additional coverage in the event your toilet, sink, or drain backs up and your belongings suffer water damage.
Scheduled personal property
Most renters insurance policies cap the amount they’ll pay for certain valuable items like jewelry, electronics, or firearms. If you want coverage for items that are worth more than the limit offered, you can add scheduled personal property coverage. In some cases, you may need to have the item appraised before you can set up the policy.
Identity theft coverage
Some renters insurance companies let you purchase additional coverage for identity theft. The coverage may include legal fees, credit monitoring services, and help with replacing your documents.
Pet liability coverage
If you have a destructive furry friend living in your home, you may want to consider adding pet liability coverage. Pet liability coverage can help you out in the event your pet damages the property, such as clawing the walls or the carpet. The coverage can help you with repair costs—preventing deductions from your security deposit.
What Renters Insurance Doesn’t Cover
While renters insurance is pretty broad, it’s important to be aware that some things aren’t covered. Here are some important exclusions to note:
You may have noticed that we haven’t mentioned water damage to your property, outside of water backup coverage. Most renters insurance policies don’t cover flood damage or damage from heavy rainfall. If you live in an area at risk of being flooded, you’ll need to purchase separate flood insurance.
Pest infestations can be a huge hassle. Unfortunately, it’s likely that renters insurance won’t cover pest damage or damage control. However, some companies do offer additional bedbug coverage, so make sure to ask before purchasing.
While renters insurance does help you out in the event of snowstorms, tornadoes, or fires, earthquake damage is usually not covered. However, like flood insurance, you can purchase earthquake insurance separately if you live in a high-risk area.
Your roommate’s belongings
Lastly, keep in mind that your renters insurance doesn’t cover your roommate's or visitor’s belongings. In most cases, it’s best for all of your roommates to purchase separate policies.
The only exception is if you have dependents living in your home. Typically, your policy will also cover your dependent’s belongings.
How to Choose a Renters Insurance Policy
Now that you have a good idea of what renters insurance covers, it’s time to start shopping around for the right policy. Before you buy, it’s a good idea to make an inventory of all of your belongings so you can estimate how much coverage you’ll need.
Keep in mind that the more you opt for coverage-wise, the more you’ll pay each month. For example, $20,000 in coverage will typically cost you about $13-$15 per month, whereas $100,000 in coverage might cost you $30 per month.
Renters insurance covers a wide range of belongings that are damaged or stolen for various reasons. While most states don’t require renters insurance, purchasing it will give you the ultimate peace of mind, as you know you’ll be covered if unexpected events were to happen.
However, make sure to read your policy carefully before purchasing, as there may be some additional coverage options you will want to include.