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Can my landlord require me to have renters insurance?
Yes, your landlord can require you to have renters insurance as a part of your lease agreement. But most landlords only require you to have a certain type of renters insurance called liability insurance. And, it turns out, they may have some pretty good reasons for it.
It’s important to understand what kind of insurance your landlord is requiring you to have, what it covers, and is your stuff covered if trouble decides to pay you a visit.
Why do landlords require tenants to have renters insurance?
The main reasons landlords want you to have renters insurance are because of liability. Liability is a stuffy insurance term that essentially means personal responsibility. For instance, if you accidentally leave a sink running and it floods your apartment, you may be found liable for the property damage done to the apartment, and even your neighbor’s apartment. Which means you could get stuck with the bill for fixing the damages. Your renters liability insurance should protect you from expensive accidents like this.
You may be wondering, why doesn’t the landlord’s insurance cover this kind of problem? That’s because their insurance policies generally don’t cover issues that their renters are responsible for. Hence, they want to make sure that you have coverage that helps protect them, and you, in the event of any incidents.
Some examples of what a renters liability policy might cover are:
- Covers loss caused by theft or vandalism.
- If you or a guest gets hurt at your apartment your landlord’s liability is reduced.
- Prevents you from trying to sue your landlord for damages.
- It helps your landlord recoup the cost of property damage you caused.
- Generally protects landlords if you injure another tenant on the property.
What are the different types of renters insurance and what do they cover?
There are three types of renters insurance — renters liability insurance, personal property coverage, and additional living expenses.
Renters liability insurance typically covers:
- Injuries to guests or tenants caused by your pet.
- Structural property damage to your apartment caused by you.
- Accidental injuries.
- Accidental damage caused to your neighbor’s apartment.
This type of coverage protects you against lawsuits surrounding incidents that you may be found responsible for. It is typically the only type of renters insurance coverage most landlords require you to carry.
Personal property insurance typically covers:
- Your furniture, appliances, or kitchen equipment
- Clothing and shoes
- Most specialized equipment such as bikes or musical instruments
This is usually what people think of when they hear the term ‘renters insurance’. It is also sometimes known as personal belongings coverage. Some items, such as expensive jewelry, may be excluded from standard policies and you might need to purchase additional coverage.
Additional living expenses insurance:
This coverage reimburses you for unexpected living expenses if a disaster has made your apartment unlivable. It generally covers you for:
- Other expenses related to not being able to be at your apartment
Smoke damage, fires, vandalism, explosions are just some of the many events that may be covered under this type of policy. This may not be worth paying for and will depend on your situation. For example, if you are likely to move in with a friend or family member until things get sorted out.
How do I verify what my landlord’s renter insurance policy covers?
If you have renters insurance coverage through your landlord then you can verify what type of coverage you have by looking at your lease. If you don’t see it in the lease then look for a renters insurance addendum. If you still aren’t sure, contact your landlord and ask.
Look for terms like ‘liability coverage’ and ‘personal property coverage’. If you don’t see personal property listed odds are your stuff isn’t insured. As we said above, landlords are protecting their financial situation by making you get liability coverage. But getting insurance to protect your things is up to you.
When money is tight, it may feel like a luxury to pay for something extra like personal property coverage. That’s why we love companies like Lemonade that offer great coverage starting at just $5 a month or Liberty Mutual starting at just $4 a month. Even if you just get the minimum coverage it could really save your bacon if the worst happens. And between us, when money is tight, is when our bacon usually needs the most saving! ?
What is the minimum amount of rent insurance I need to satisfy my lease agreement?
Although it is important to check, most landlords only require you to have renters liability coverage. The standard minimum liability coverage amount required by landlords and offered by insurance companies is $100,000. This means that if you only have the minimum insurance required by your landlord then your stuff won’t be protected if something happens.
It’s frustrating for you, and your landlord, if you don’t have enough coverage because you may feel that they should have to reimburse you for your personal property if something happens. But, in 99% of cases, they are not responsible for reimbursing you for damaged belongings, even if it happened in your apartment.
What is the penalty if I don’t get renters insurance but my lease requires it?
Most landlords won’t let you move in until they have seen proof of coverage. If you allow your renters insurance to lapse you are in violation of your lease and risk being evicted.
Remember, when you sign a lease you are agreeing to everything it says. And, whether you really agree with it or not, the law will be on the side of your landlord, annoying, we know.
What if I want to get my own renters insurance?
Your landlord cannot legally force you to buy a policy through a particular company just the type of policy and minimum coverage. Just make sure you provide proof and maintain your coverage. Landlords want you to have coverage and they will just be happy that you have it. If you are looking for a quick comparison, we’ve compared rates, details and coverage of some of the most affordable renter insurance companies here.
How do I prove that I have renters insurance?
Once you buy a policy your insurance company will give you a certificate proving you have insurance. You can print this out or send it electronically to your landlord.
Some landlords will require that you put them on your policy as an ‘additional interest’. This doesn’t mean that they are insured under your policy, however, it does mean that if your coverage is terminated or lapses that they will be told.
How much does renters insurance cost, anyhow?
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of renters insurance can range between $15 – $30 a month depending on things like, where you live, or how much coverage you have. However, as we said, when you adjust the deductible and limits of coverage, you can get renter insurance from companies like Lemonade for as low as $5 a month!
Other things which can help you save money on rent insurance include bundling your auto insurance with a company such as Allstate, having higher deductibles, or even reducing your credit score. Check out our article, How to get renters insurance discounts, for more great ideas on saving money.
Is my pet covered under my renters insurance?
In most cases, no. Your pet is not covered if something happens to it on the apartment property. So your renters personal property insurance would not cover vet bills, for example.
However, under renters liability policies, yes. If your dog bites someone in your apartment, for instance, that would be covered under the liability section of your policy. But again, you must understand your coverage, some exotic pets or dog breeds may not be covered or you may need additional coverage for them. (And when we say exotic we aren’t talking about your cat that likes to dance around in your underwear, we’re talking about your pet ferret that sleeps on your shoulder all day!)
I’m a college student, I don’t need renters insurance, right?
Yeahhh, that’s not necessarily true. Just because you live in a dorm room instead of an apartment doesn’t mean you don’t have things you depend on like that bike you use to get around. And many college students grow out of the dorms to become renters by their senior year. If this sounds like you read our article, Renters insurance for college students, to learn more.
Bigfoot just trashed my apartment, what do I do now?
So, here’s the deal, Bigfoot is real! We totally believe you! Mostly… but, however, your stuff got damaged, if you need to file a claim it’s best to do it right away as well as notify your landlord that there was an incident at your apartment. Read here for help on how to file.
Should I get renters insurance even if my landlord doesn’t require it?
Only you can decide what makes sense for you when deciding to purchase renters insurance. If you don’t own much perhaps renters insurance isn’t really necessary. On the other hand, maintaining at least a minimum liability policy could make sense since accidents are just that, not on purpose. And that could keep you financially protected if the worst happens.
If you do have a bunch of money invested in things like electronics or sports equipment it probably does make sense to have personal property coverage. This can protect you from the costs of replacing everything yourself and allow you to land on your feet (with bacon in hand) after a disaster.
Click here to learn more about renters insurance.
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