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What You Don’t Know About Renters Insurance

The following is a guest post was written by Barbara Waltz, one of the founders of 247QuoteUs.com, an insurance blog and insurance quote comparison guide.

Many renters, especially younger adults, either have no idea they can buy renters insurance, or they do not think that they need it. Since they do not own their own homes, but simply rent an apartment, they figure that they run little risk of loss. Others have never even thought about the kinds of losses that buying a renters insurance policy would cover, and they have never even looked into buying a policy at all!

Are Renters Protected By Landlord’s Insurance?

Your landlord buys a policy to protect themselves, and not you. Landlord’s insurance probably covers the building and any property that your landlord leaves at your home. It was probably not designed to protect your belongings at all, or to protect you against any liability claims. If you rent, you cannot rely upon your landlord’s insurance to cover you.

In fact, many prudent landlords require a renters insurance policy as part of the lease agreement. They do this to protect themselves, but it really protects you too. If a pipe breaks in your rented home, the landlord will probably try to fix it in a timely manner. But you may still need a temporary home, and some of your own possessions could be ruined. Your landlord will not be eager to help you, and you will both be relieved if most of your losses are covered.

What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?

Policies vary, so make sure you check your own. But these are some common types of coverage that will be included in a renter’s insurance policy.

  • Personal Property – If your TV, computer, and clothes get stolen or damaged, a renter’s insurance policy would cover them. Make sure you understand how your policy values the contents of your home. If your policy specifies the “replacement value”, you will be able to purchase replacements at a store. If not, you may only get “garage sale” prices when an insurer settles the claim.
  • Personal Liability – If your coworker claims they broke their leg because they tripped over a roller skate when they were delivering some work, your renter’s insurance policy would protect you. Even if the claim is frivolous, it is good to have an insurer on your side if you need to defend yourself.
  • Relocation Assistance – If your rented home gets damaged, a renter’s policy can provide money for you to move or find temporary housing while repairs are being made. This can be a huge relief if you need to find a place to live suddenly because of fire or storm damage. Could you really afford to stay in a hotel for a month while your roof is being repaired? Landlords are not likely to offer to pay to put you up, and even if you could make a legal case that they should, it would take lots of time to collect your money.

You Can Find Affordable Renters Insurance

You should be able to find plenty of cheap policies for renters, since they only have to cover the contents of a home, and not the whole building. Compare paying $20 – $30 a month vs. losing everything you own, or having to pay for a motel room for a month because your apartment was vandalized.

Make sure that you do understand your policy, and find out if it will also cover your roommate or domestic partner before you need to make a claim. As with any insurance policy you consider purchasing, it is best to shop around and compare quotes before making any decisions.

36 responses to “What You Don’t Know About Renters Insurance”

  1. the weakonomist

    I’ve never needed renter’s insurance, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have it. My mom got me a policy in college and then I took it over after I graduated.

    The area that I lived never required it, but the new town I’m moving to seems to require it. I’m not sure why they don’t just include it in the rent.

    Get renter’s insurance, it’s dirt cheap and worth it.

  2. Don

    @weakonomist: They don’t include it in the rent because they believe in capitalism. You have to have insurance, but you can buy it from whomever you like.

    I also had renter’s insurance when I rented, although I never had to make a claim.

  3. Mike

    I bought renters insurance when I moved on my own, even though I never thought to get it in college. It is so cheap there is no reason not to.

  4. Stephanie

    Editor’s Note: I would like to thank Barbara for her excellent guest post on this subject. The commenters are right – renters insurance is cheap, so just get it.

    But when you’re in college, you may not need renters insurance: you may still be covered under your parents’ homeowners insurance, even if you’re not living on campus. For example, my boyfriend’s parents’ homeowners insurance covers the room he rents currently, while he’s in grad school. But they did stipulate that he needed to install a lock on the bedroom door for it to be covered. Always check with your parents’ current insurance to see if you are covered.

  5. Jonathan

    I’ve always had renter’s insurance. It is really cheap and covers a good deal. I had a $25,000 possessions policy for $10 a month. It also had a $300,000 personal liability coverage that covered me even while I wasn’t on the property. If I am golfing and hit someone in the head with a ball, my renter’s insurance will cover it.
    I would add to try and get the renter’s policy through the same company as your car insurance. Mine allowed me to qualify as a multi policy holder which got me a 10% discount off my car. So, in the end my renter’s insurance was free.

    1. Stephanie

      @Jonathan – excellent point! I had a friend who actually saved money when he got car insurance + renters, compared to his car insurance alone. The package deal was cheaper than the standalone car insurance! Definitely worth asking your car insurer about.

  6. Mike

    @Stephanie: That is really interesting, too late for me. My gf is in grad school, I will have her check her parent’s policy to see if she needs to buy her own renter’s insurance. Thanks!

  7. Nate @ Money Young

    I’m slowly coming around to RI. I don’t have it yet, not sure I will for this apartment, next one tho, I probably will.

    -Nate

  8. MK

    For the two years I had an apartment in college I never got renters insurance. Luckily I lived in a good neighborhood in a quiet city. It does seem to be pretty inexpensive for what it covers, and like another person said, try to get it through the same company as your car insurance and you’ll usually get some kind of deal. I’m thinking I’ll probably get the renters insurance for my next apartment considering I’m planning on moving to one of the cities that usually lands in or near the top 10 most crime ridden cities in America!

  9. Roger

    Interesting stuff. I’ve never been in a situation where I would need renter’s insurance (I’ve either been living at home or in a dorm on campus my whole adult life), but I’ll have to look into it when I get a place of my own.

  10. rich Lykyu

    I strongly recommend RI. In my experience it only costs about $10 per month, obv. the rate may vary depending on location. I was lucky enough to have my apartment destroyed by a F3 tornado in September 21 2002. At the time I was building a house and was set to move into it on October 6th. My renters insurance expired at the end of July, so rather than renew the policy I thought I would be ok. I lost just about everything from either being blown away, or water damage. For an additional $20 I could have covered those losses. You never know when you might need insurance, it is there to cover your ass when the unexpected happens.

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  13. Bryce Scott

    I will definitely invest my money into renters insurance now that I know exactly what it covers. Thanks for this article!

  14. Jerry

    Renters insurance has saved my bacon more than once, and it is usually very reasonable! Most recently, my brother’s racing bicycle was stolen from his balcony, and his renters insurance covered the loss. This type of thing happens, and it should lead most renters to consider coverage very seriously.
    Jerry

  15. Adam

    I just bought renters insurance for our downtown condo and even though we have a door man as security measure, I feel comfortable knowing that we have coverage should somebody sue us for falling or getting injured while visiting.

  16. Annie @ Credit Dispute

    Yes, If you are renting a home, it does not mean that you don’t have to apply for home renters insurance. Don’t assume that your landlord already has your properties covered. It is not your landlord’s responsibility to get you insurance.

    Your unit is insured but your properties aren’t. So if you lose your belongings in a natural disaster or a burglar entered your unit or the town house you’re staying in, you will have to pay for the replacements yourself.

  17. Chandler

    Very helpful. Bundling insurance with one company saves the most money and allows for greater coverage

  18. jenny

    Great post! Thank You! Renters insurance really seems to be something that most people don’t think about. The great thing about renters is it will even cover you if something is stolen from your apartment. Thats why we have it, that and in case I ever light the place of fire.

  19. Barth

    What can I say… eh i’ll pass for a while until gather some more money and make a good market research.

  20. Freddie Water

    Renters insurance can be helpful. We had a situation where we lived in the basement unit of this 3 flat. It rained, we flooded, and there was nothing we could do.

    If would have had insurance, we would have been all good….but I was being cheap and almost lost everything.

  21. budi @ condominium insurance

    I agree with jenny, sometimes when people rent a house or apartment, they think the goods they bring to the rental house was protected by the property owner insurance. Indeed, most property owners insurance does not include items owned by the tenants so that tenants need to have renter insurance for the protection of possessions.

  22. Suzie

    Renter insurance is a great idea because it covers so much and it is so cheap. Just make sure you understand the whole policy before signing on the dotted line. It can replace all your items if stolen or damaged in a fire or natural disaster. Plus it’s so cheap – about $10 – $20 a month. You can even get discounts if you bundle with car, life and health insurance. Renters should definitely look into it!!

  23. Johnny @ Water Damage

    Got to love the price of renters insurance. It is definitely worth it. A friend of mine lived in a unit that flooded and didn’t even worry about. They had a good rental insurance, so they didn’t worry about it. If I could give any advice it would be not to skimp on renters insurance and get it sooner, rather than later.

  24. Chuck

    We were just called out to a fire in Manhattan where the lady did not have a renters policy. Im sure she never thought that she would have a fire in a secure Manhattan Building. Well she did and now she is out about $30,000 in damages. Always have a renters policy.

  25. Lynley

    An acquaintance accidentally backed into the garage door (instead of going forward). The landlord received payment from the insurance company. The insurance company billed the renter. Landlord’s insurance does not cover the renter.

  26. Christian

    Renters insurance has become one of the most overlooked forms of insurance but is considered one of the most important when you think about what is being protected. It can also be as cheap as around $9-10 a month so it is worth checking into.

  27. Michael Peel

    Renters insurance is an absolute must have. The wonderful part about it, is that it is very cheap. When we were renting our first house, we were paying $23 a month back in 2009.

    One of the great aspects of renters insurance is that is covers personal property. When speaking with my agent, he told me that even if items are stolen out of my truck, while we were on vacation, they would cover it.

    For the price of renters insurance, there is no reason not to have it.

  28. Michael

    One of the best aspects of renters insurance is that is covers personal property even away from the home.

    I have spoken to multiple agents and they agree if I am on vacation and someone steals my property or it is damaged… then it will be covered.

    Just for this safety net alone I think renters insurance is worth the cost. We were only paying $23 a month.

    How does $23 a month compare to feeling secure while you are on vacation or away from home.

    The decision seems easy…

  29. Allen Davis

    The house I was leasing flooded while I was on vacation because of old piping. It was crazy that had I not had renter’s insurance, I would have been kicked out the house with no where to go except a hotel, and who can afford $100/night. Fortunately, my renter’s insurance covered all my expenses, and damages. It really is something not worth risking. You never know how well the landlord is going to take care of your home.

  30. a fellow renter

    after being screwed by a landlord, I would really recommend that you get renter’s insurance. its damn cheap and seems really to be worth the whole price…

  31. Jack Thomas

    Some of the comments reflect the thinking that the landlord should provide an umbrella of coverage over their tenants. The responsibility to Insure your personal contents is the renters themselves.

    The renters policy additionally will provide liability coverage in the event something occurs in the premise that the tenet could be held liable for. So renters insurance also provides liability protection for the tenants

  32. James

    I just bought renters insurance for our downtown condo and even though we have a door man as security measure, I feel comfortable knowing that we have coverage should somebody sue us for falling or getting injured while visiting.

  33. sam

    5 minutes after reading this article I bought renters insurance, tanks you for all the useful information

  34. Kim

    Renters insurance is an absolute must in my opinion.

  35. bobby Carswell

    When i moved into my first appartment, i never gave renters insurance a thought. What did i have to cover? Then i added it all up and was in a panic until i got renters insurance. I was very calming to know i was protected. bobby