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What does renters insurance cover?
Sometimes it may feel like a thankless expense, paying for something year after year that you often wonder, “do I really even need that?”. It’s always a good idea to reevaluate what we are spending our money on and why. Renters insurance expenses should be no different. So all aboard this renters insurance discovery train to figure out what it covers, what it doesn’t, and why do we care anyway?
Your personal property is your stuff aka furniture, electronics, clothing and shoes, sports equipment, etc. If your stuff is stolen or damaged then your personal property renters insurance will, after deductibles, reimburse you for your lost or damaged things.
Liability protects you from lawsuits, covers damages to the landlord’s property and medical bills. Generally, this is the type of renters insurance that most landlords ‘make’ you carry. It includes things like:
- Damage to your apartment
- Medical bills
- Injuries caused by your pet
- The damage you caused to your neighbor’s apartment
You’d think that the landlord’s insurance would take care of things like ‘damage to your apartment’ right? That’s a big fat no, unfortunately when you are the cause of the damage. I know, we are normally purrfect, except that time we left a candle burning and the apartment caught fire, darn!
Additional living expenses
If a disaster, natural or otherwise, has made your apartment uninhabitable, this coverage will pay for things like a hotel, eating out, and any other expenses you may have because you can’t live at home. Some people have tons of friends and family and don’t need this kind of coverage, but some of us need a backup plan.
What does renters insurance NOT cover?
There’s a lot of stuff that renters insurance covers, but it’s also important to understand what it doesn’t cover. That way, if your lucky horseshoe isn’t working that day, you’ll know what to expect.
- Natural disasters: If you live somewhere where things like sinkholes, earthquakes, or flooding are normal then you should double-check your renters insurance policy to make sure that you are covered. In places where stuff like this is common, you often are required to buy extra insurance to protect yourself.
- Car theft: If you have stuff stolen out of your car you should be covered. But, if your actual car is stolen, or damaged during a theft, don’t expect renters insurance to cover that. Your auto insurance should, however, so double-check that policy while you’re at it.
- Undocumented items: If you don’t have any way to prove that something belonged to you then you could be in for a struggle getting your insurance company to reimburse you for it. Be sure to take pictures and save receipts of everything you have of value. Totally lame way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but worth it if coverage is important to you.
- My roommate’s stuff: If your roommate is related to you then they may be covered, or if they are on your policy. Otherwise, no, they don’t have renters insurance under your policy and you should advise them to get their own policy.
- Pests: Nope. Pests are pesky in more ways than one. Renters insurance will not cover them, the damage they do, or the costs of getting rid of them.
- Property damage (landlord’s property): Only if you have liability coverage. If your renters insurance policy only includes personal property damage, then it will not pay for damage that you caused to your or your neighbor’s apartment. This could be very expensive if something bad happens under your watch.
If you’re concerned that your renters insurance policy doesn’t cover everything that you think it should cover, then it’s time to do a little policy reading. If you have a specific concern, such as you live in a hurricane-prone area and want to know if your things are protected if a hurricane should strike, your policy will say whether or not you are covered.
If insurance lingo is confusing to you, like most of us, then the best way to make sure you are insured is to call or chat with your insurance company and ask.
What are the benefits of having renters insurance?
There are many reasons why having renters insurance is a good idea.
- Reduces the risk of lawsuits: If you have renters insurance it could save you from a painful lawsuit. If someone is injured in your apartment or your dog bites someone they can be reimbursed for their injuries through your renters insurance policy rather than taking you to court.
- Meets your lease requirements: Landlords can require in your lease that you carry renters insurance. So if you want to move into a place that requires it then it is a plus to have.
- Gives you peace of mind: Knowing you have renters insurance coverage can help you feel more confident and happy because your stuff is protected.
- Medical benefits for injured guests: If something happens to a friend or family member while at your apartment their medical bills will be covered under your renters insurance policy.
- Damage that you or your kid causes: If you or your child breaks a neighboring renter’s property the cost of replacement will be covered under your renters insurance policy.
- Legal expenses: If you are sued by a guest or you accidentally hurt someone your renters insurance may protect you from hefty legal fees.
- Rented or borrowed items: Your renters insurance covers items in your possession (just be sure to document!).
- Away from home: Your stuff is protected wherever you roam or if your car is broken into. That beach trip where your bike was stolen? It would be covered!
How much renters insurance do I need?
Only you can determine how much renters insurance you need. First, take inventory of what you own and approximate how much it’s worth. How much stuff do you have? Do you have kids or a dog? Do you live in a high-crime area or a flood plain? All of these factors are important when deciding what amount of coverage is right for you.
Most liability policies cover you up to $100,000 and personal property coverage can range from $5000 to over $30,000 depending on what you own. The average 2 bedroom apartment has about $30,000 of furniture, electronics, and other items. Compare some renters insurance companies here for help finding a renters insurance policy that fits your needs.
If your main reason for wanting to cancel your renters insurance is because you can’t afford it, you may want to read our articles, Cheap renters insurance and How to get renters insurance discounts to learn about saving on your renters insurance premium.
Renters insurance covers your lost or damaged personal property, protects you from lawsuits, pays for damages to your landlord’s property, and sometimes will pay for out-of-pocket expenses if you are unable to live at home due to a disaster. Once you’ve added up how much stuff you own and determine risk levels for things like where you live, you should be able to determine if maintaining a renters insurance policy makes sense for you.
Renters insurance FAQs
1. My landlord offers renters insurance. Should I take it?
If you’re looking to save some money your landlord offered insurance will satisfy your lease requirements. It may not cover all of your things, however, so be sure you understand if it’s enough coverage to protect you. Read more about this in our article, What does my landlord’s tenant liability insurance policy cover.
2. Is renters insurance paid annually?
Most companies that offer renters insurance policies allow renters to pay for their insurance either monthly or annually. Paying annually usually means you get a discounted rate.
3. What is the best rent insurance company?
There are a lot of things that go into your decision to decide which renters insurance company is right for you. From price, bundling options, customer experience, mobile experience, to discounts offered. Read more here to find out more about choosing the best insurance company for you. If you are ready to buy renters insurance check out some of our faves here.
4. What’s the cheapest rent coverage option?
If you’re just looking to satisfy your lease requirement and want to pay as little as possible you can find plans for around $75 a year. We even got quotes for as little as $5 a month with Lemonade. Liberty Mutual has a renters insurance policy that starts as low as $4 a month. It’s important to keep in mind that you get what you pay for though. And if lightning strikes, you may find yourself crispy without a bucket of water to jump in. Read our article, Cheap renters insurance to learn more.
5. Does my roommate need renters insurance too?
Yes, indeed your roommate needs his or her own renters insurance. Unless your roommate is a family member or spouse they are not covered. And if you are the roommate you are not covered under your buddy’s policy.
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