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Renters Insurance: What Does It Cover?

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Updated April 9, 2024

While there are advantages to owning a home, there are also perks to being a renter. As a renter, your landlord is responsible for insuring your home and making necessary repairs. This still leaves you responsible for your personal property inside the home. That’s where renter’s insurance comes into the picture.

Within this article, we’re going to discuss exactly what renter’s insurance does and does not cover, and how to insure your belongings from damage, theft, and more.

What does renters insurance cover?

As you start looking for the best insurance for renters, you should pay close attention to what each policy covers.

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage is why most people take out a renters insurance policy. This will provide coverage for your personal belongings within your home. This could be your furniture, jewelry, clothes, electronics, and knicknacks.

If you experience a covered loss, your insurance company will reimburse you for the value of the items lost (there may be some limitations, especially for jewelry). Some of the events covered include the following:

  • Fire or lightning.
  • Theft.
  • Vandalism.
  • Wind or hail.
  • Smoke.
  • Explosion.
  • Falling objects.
  • Riots.
  • Accidental discharge of water (water pipe bursts within your apartment building).
  • Accidental damage caused by short-circuiting of an electrical system.
  • Vehicles (car crashes into your home).
  • Frozen pipes.
  • Weight of ice or snow.
  • Volcanic eruption.

Most of the time, your renter's insurance policy will cover your items when they’re located inside your home and occasionally when they’re outside the home as well. For example, if your golf clubs are sitting outside at the golf course and they’re stolen, your renter's insurance may cover the loss.

To understand exactly how much personal property coverage you need, it’s best to take a full inventory of your belongings and their estimated value. This will help you avoid being underinsured if you have a significant loss.

Personal liability coverage

Personal liability coverage will protect you when you’re responsible for damage or injury to someone else or their property. For example, let’s assume someone visiting your rental unit slips on a rug and breaks their arm. If they sue for medical expenses, your personal liability would protect you financially.

Personal liability insurance will cover the expenses from all the following:

  • Medical bills if someone is injured within your home or on your property.
  • Any lost wages of the person injured in your home.
  • Legal costs if someone sues you.
  • Cost of damages to someone else's property.
  • Death benefits if someone dies after being injured at your home.

When you sign up for your renter's insurance policy, you can select the amount of liability coverage you want. The most common coverage is $100,000, but you can select more or less, which will impact your monthly premium.

Medical payments coverage

Similar to personal liability coverage, medical payments coverage will cover medical expenses if someone is injured in your home. The difference between the two is that medical payments coverage typically covers claims that are less than $5,000. Plus, liability coverage only covers the cost when you’re at fault. With medical payments coverage, it doesn’t matter who is at fault.

Additional living expenses coverage

If your rental home is considered unlivable due to one of the covered reasons, additional living expenses coverage will reimburse you for the cost of moving into temporary housing or other expenses related to the event.

Some of the things that additional living expenses coverage will take care of include:

  • Hotel or temporary accommodations.
  • Cost of meals when forced to eat away from home.
  • Extra commuting expenses.
  • Pet boarding.
  • Fees for storing personal items.

Keep in mind that most insurance policies set a maximum benefits amount. This will limit how much the insurance company will cover for these items.

What does renter’s insurance not cover?

Renter’s insurance provides coverage for many situations, but there are some things it doesn’t cover.

The building where you live

Renter’s insurance only covers your personal items found inside the home. It will not cover the building itself. This is something that your landlord's insurance policy would cover.

For example, let’s assume there was a large storm and a tree in your backyard fell on your deck, breaking the railing. A landlord insurance policy would cover this.

Flood damage

Most renter’s insurance policies do not include coverage for flooding within your home. This could be if your basement floods due to a heavy rainstorm or a nearby river floods and enters your home.

Pest infestation

If your home has an issue with rodents or bedbugs, your renter’s insurance most likely won’t cover the cost to get rid of them or any damage they might have caused.

Earthquakes

If you live in an area where earthquakes are common, most renter’s insurance policies won’t cover these occurrences.

Roommates

Renter’s insurance policies will only cover you and your items unless you add your roommate(s) to your policy. Ideally, you will each have your own renter’s insurance policy.

Common area accidents

If you live in an apartment building and your visitor is injured in a common area, such as the lobby or hallway, your renter’s insurance won’t cover the accident. Instead, they’ll be covered under your landlord's insurance.

Home business

If you run a business out of your home, your renter’s insurance won’t provide any protection. To be covered, you’ll need to get small business insurance.

Adding more coverage to your policy

Depending on your situation, you might need additional coverage for certain events. Here are a few coverage options that can be added to your basic renter’s insurance.

Valuables

If you have expensive valuables in your home, such as jewelry or artwork, you might consider an additional valuables policy to ensure that the full value can be covered in case of a loss.

Water backup

If your main sewer line or drains back up into your home, causing damage, renter’s insurance won’t cover the cost of cleaning and repair. Instead, you would need to have special coverage for water backups.

Earthquakes

Earlier, we mentioned that standard renter’s insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes. You’ll want to add special earthquake coverage to protect your personal property if you live in an area with frequent earthquakes.

Renter insurance coverage checklist

Unfortunately, renters insurance isn’t going to cover everything. The table below details items your renter’s insurance policy may or may not cover.

ProblemRenter’s insuranceOther insurance type
Car theft
Renters insurance won’t cover the stolen car, but most policies will cover the personal items within the car.
Auto insurance
Damage to building structure
No
Landlord insurance
Dog bites
Yes, but some insurance companies may not cover bites from certain dog breeds.
Earthquakes
No
Earthquake insurance
Floods
No
Flood insurance
Mold
Yes, if mold happened recently.
Pet damage
Yes
Pests and rodents
No
None
Roommate’s items
Yes, if listed on the policy.
Storage units
Yes, renters insurance will cover your items in a storage unit.
Theft
Yes, up to the limits set in your policy
Water damage
Yes, if a pipe bursts and there is sudden damage. However, damage due to outside flooding won’t be covered.
Flood insurance

TIME Stamp: Know what renter’s insurance does and doesn’t cover

If you’re currently renting your home, it’s important to make sure you have a renter’s insurance policy in place. This is going to help protect your belongings in the event there is an accident. However, it’s also important to understand that renter’s insurance isn’t going to cover everything and investigate whether you need additional coverage through extra riders or another type of policy besides renter’s insurance.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the best company for renters insurance?

There are a lot of great companies that offer renters insurance. The best company is going to be the one that offers the best coverage for your needs and also has the best rates.

How do renters insurance companies pay out claims?

When you file a renters insurance claim, your insurance company will review the loss to ensure it’s covered. If they approve the claim, they will pay the loss up to the maximum on your policy. However, they will subtract your deductible from the claim payment.

For example, let’s assume you have a loss of $2,500 and your deductible is $250. You’d receive a check from your insurance company in the amount of $2,250.

What is the average cost of renters insurance?

The cost of renters insurance will fluctuate based on the state where you live. According to Nationwide Insurance, the average monthly cost is between $15 and $20. However, some insurance companies like Lemonade advertise coverage rates as low as $5 per month.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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