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Renters Insurance FAQ
As the name implies, renters insurance is a type of policy you can take out if you rent a home or an apartment. This provides an additional layer of protection on top of whatever policy the landlord has.
For example, your landlord likely has an insurance policy to help protect the building’s exterior from certain conditions (such as vandalism). But even if that policy also covers some of the home interiors, it is not likely to extend to your personal property.
In short, renters insurance exists to protect you from unknown and unforeseen threats. You never know when your home may experience fires, floods, and other unexpected scenarios. With the right rental insurance policy, you can rest assured that you are protected from these potential threats.
Most landlord insurance covers damages to the building and its structure, not any the tenant’s possessions within it. It mostly covers exterior damage and might not cover damage on the inner walls such as with a pipe leak.
The short answer is “yes.” While the state cannot require renters to get insurance, it is up to individual landlords to determine the exact policies for their tenants. And just as some leases may specify that you can’t have pets in the house, others may specify that a tenant must get renters insurance.
If a landlord makes this request and you don’t want to get renters insurance, you can always try to find a different property that does not have this requirement. But after reading this guide, we hope that you strongly consider getting renters insurance to safeguard the most valuable items inside your home.
Renters insurance helps cover the damage or loss of personal property due to theft, fire, and other such hazards. It can also help cover you if a visitor gets injured or gets their property damaged within your home.
Your insurance should cover the following events:
- Theft and vandalism
- Fire and smoke
- Windstorm and hail
- Water damage from plumbing, furnace/AC, or water heater
In the event of theft or vandalism, you will need to file a police report before you can file an insurance claim. And as always, we recommend making sure you have high enough coverage to provide the protection you need.
Your policy does not cover the following events:
- Earth movement
- Flood damage
- Power failure
- Intentional loss
- Nuclear hazard
- Ordinance or law or governmental action
In addition, these are some additional exclusions, limitations, and/or reductions in regards to coverage:
- Removal of fallen trees is excluded unless they damage your house or outbuilding or block access to your property.
- Limitations exist on coverage amounts for jewelry, guns, silverware, cash, coins, certain types of collections, art, and computers/equipment.
- Property and Liability Coverage for automobiles, watercraft, and aircraft is limited or excluded. If you are worried about your parked vehicle being damaged, we recommend taking out a comprehensive car insurance policy.
- Replacement Cost property claims are settled on an Actual Cash Value basis until you repair or replace the property.
- Losses to insured property intentionally caused by an insured are excluded.
- Losses to the dwelling caused by water or sewage from outside the dwelling that backs up through sewers and drains are excluded.
If you have a renters insurance policy and have filed a claim, the insurance company will help pay for repair or replacement of personal items stolen or damaged due to a hazard. Once you have paid the deductible, the insurance company will pay for the cost of replacement of the item(s) or the actual cash value (subject to depreciation), depending on your policy.
Should someone get injured in your home, that person can file a claim with your insurance company and your insurer will attend to that claim to help pay for medical expenses or loss/damage of their personal property.
Even if you don’t think you own many valuables, renters insurance is a worthwhile investment. Without renters insurance, you would be responsible for replacing any damaged or stolen electronics, furniture, and other items. You may not have expensive items, but the cost to replace those items can add up if a burglar cleans out your apartment or a fire destroys your furniture in your condo. Also, if visitors injure themselves in your home or have a personal item damaged, you could be held responsible to cover their medical costs or repairs to their property.
There are certain scenarios where you can write off renters insurance from your taxes. If you operate a business from your home, you can deduct a percentage of your renters insurance policy from your taxes depending on the number of items that are covered are primarily used for business, such as a business laptop or work equipment. Talk to a tax professional for more information to see if you qualify.
It varies from person to person. When shopping for renters insurance, ask yourself how much your belongings are worth, if you can afford to buy them back if they were damaged in a fire or stolen, and what you would do if someone files a liability lawsuit against you. Taking this inventory can help you determine how much coverage you would need. The average person has at least $35,000 worth of possessions that could be subject to theft or damage in their home.
If you are unclear about whether a particular item is covered or not, we recommend reviewing your policy and reaching out to the insurance carrier with any questions. You should also note these important terms in your policy:
- Replacement cost: This option provides coverage on a replacement cost basis without deduction for depreciation instead of actual cash value.
- Personal liability: If someone is injured on your property due to your fault or an insured causes damage to the property of others, this coverage will compensate them for damages.
- Medical payments: Pays medical bills if someone else is hurt at your residence.
Most insurers include personal computers and laptops in their list of covered electronics in their renters insurance plans, however you should do your research. If you have replacement cost coverage, you’ll get the amount needed to outright replace your damaged computer. However, if your policy covers the actual cash value and you have an older computer, it will cover the current cash value and not the price you paid years ago. Some renters insurance policies have restrictions or limitations on electronics coverage, so be sure to discuss this with your insurer to make sure your computer is fully covered.
If your television was damaged in a fire, stolen, or broken due to an act of vandalism, it is covered by your renters insurance agreement. However, if it was damaged from misuse or wear-and-tear, your broken TV isn’t covered.
While some jewelry is covered in a standard renters insurance agreement, there may be limits on your coverage. If you have a specifically expensive piece(s) of jewelry that you want covered, you should ask an insurance agent for special additional coverage.
If your possessions are damaged or destroyed by a fire, your renters insurance should cover the expenses of repair or replacement. In some policies, your renters insurance can help pay for temporary housing if your home is deemed unlivable after a fire.
Damage to your vehicle can is covered through a comprehensive auto coverage insurance policy. Your renters insurance will not cover damage done to your car, van, truck, or other forms of vehicles.
Yes. If your possessions were stolen from your vehicle, they are covered under your renters insurance plan. You should get coverage whether the items were stolen from your car while parked near your home or if they were taken while you were traveling.
Probably. In many cases, your renters insurance can cover your belongings if they are away from home. However, there could be limitations in coverage. Talk to your insurance agent to see if there any limitations regarding items kept in a storage unit. You may need to either increase your coverage or purchase a separate plan for your storage unit. There are also some storage units that offer insurance coverage as an option within your unit rental agreement, so you may want to inquire the storage unit facility to see if they offer satisfactory coverage.
It depends, but most renters insurance policies won’t cover damage to your furniture and other possessions due to your dog or cat biting, clawing, or soiling the items to the point that they need to be replaced or repaired. However, it is important to disclose your pet ownership to your insurer in order to get a proper rate.
Most insurance companies will not cover pets and those that do might have restrictions on what breeds or types of pets they are willing to cover. For example, most insurance companies won’t provide coverage for pit bulls as they are considered as a high-risk breed of dog. There are some insurance companies that offer special coverage that cover dog owner’s liability should the insured pet bite or injure another person.
Renters insurance typically doesn’t cover pest infestation at any time. Since most infestations occur due to neglect on behalf of the tenant, renters should notify their landlord of any infestation and work out a solution. You may be required resolve your infestation out of your own pocket, but your landlord may cover the cost of an exterminator if you are not the only rental unit on the property that has been infested.
It depends on what caused the flood. If your property has been damaged by water and flooding from a broken pipe, a water leak from your ceiling, or a similar structural issue, your renters insurance will likely cover it. However, damages caused by heavy rain or rising water from a nearby river or stream will not be covered on a regular renters insurance policy. Depending on where you live and the insurance provider, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy that will account for water damage caused by acts of nature.
You, your spouse, your children, and any resident relatives should be listed to ensure that they are covered. For some buildings, you may be requested to add your property manager or landlord as a renters insurance interested party on your policy. While your insurance company won’t provide coverage for your landlord or property manager, they will receive notifications from your insurer.
Technically, yes, but it is not recommended. While a roommate can be added to your policy and many insurers offer their customers the ability to add their roommate to their policy for an additional fee, there may be certain restrictions regarding their coverage on your policy. Also, if your roommate were to leave, they will not be able to take their part of the policy with them. It is recommended that if you live with a roommate that each of you has your own policy to ensure that everyone’s possessions are properly covered.