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What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

December 24, 2018

As a renter, we all know life happens. Maybe your landlord didn’t replace old electrical outlets and it caused a bit of a fire situation. Perhaps your friend came for a visit and used a broken stool to reach the top shelf. Needless to say their landing wasn’t perfect. What if a burglar stopped by and took your credit card along for a ride? You may need a helping hand to handle all of this and more, and that’s exactly where renters insurance comes in handy. A landlord's coverage will protect the building you live in, but it’s on you and your policy to cover what's inside the walls. Renters insurance is there to protect you from these mishaps and more. If you're a landlord wondering about insurance, check out this guide on landlord insurance.

What is Renter's Insurance?

Renters insurance, often referred to as tenants' insurance, is an insurance policy that provides apartment renters with protection from unexpected personal property damage costs and legal liability.

Simply speaking, renters insurance is financial protection for renters in case of an emergency. It is your personal liability coverage for things such as personal property, liability damages, living expenses if your apartment becomes unlivable, and even medical care in case one of your guests has an emergency. Note that these policy plans do not protect the actual living quarters that a renter occupies, since damage done to the building itself falls under the landlord’s repair responsibility and would be covered by their property insurance.

What Does Renter's Insurance Cover?

Most renters insurance plans cover the below liabilities:

1. Personal property damage

Your insurance will most likely cover the costs or replace the wrecked goods, up to your policy limit, if your property is damaged due to any of the following:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Wind and hail
  • Explosions
  • Smoke damage
  • Vandalism
  • Water damage
  • Wind damage
  • Hail
  • Volcanoes
  • Falling objects
  • Snow and ice collapse
  • Mold (in some circumstances)

2. Theft

In case of a robbery, your renters insurance will cover the cost of replacing your items. There may be certain rules for timely reporting and an amount cap, so check the details with your policy provider.

3. Personal liability

Let’s say a guest injures themself sitting on the wobbly chair you’ve been meaning to replace. If someone is injured on your property, and the injury is due to your negligence, your standard renters insurance will likely cover up to $100,000 in liability medical costs. This does not apply to your roommate, because they are in charge of the apartment unit as well, and would ideally have their own renters insurance. Your roommate and their personal belongings would have to be covered by their own policy plan.

4. Additional living expenses

If something occurs at your home that makes it unlivable, renters insurance can help take care of any costs you incur from finding an alternative living situation. Imagine, for example, your property suffers severe water damage. Figuring out where to live while your property is fixed can seem an expensive and daunting task. You have to find a place to stay and fill it with all things necessary to maintain your normal day-to-day life. In cases such as this one, your renters insurance policy will cover the expenses. This includes temporary living expenses, if those are found to be necessary.

5. Landlord negligence

Your landlord went on vacation and forgot to leave instructions for the cleaning service about the snow on the roof. As a result, the apartment building’s roof collapsed. This scenario is obviously not the tenant’s fault, but it doesn’t change the fact that their possessions were damaged. Renters insurance to the rescue! Most insurance policies will cover landlord negligence and replace or pay for damaged goods.

6. Credit card/bank forgery coverage

Theft occurred in your apartment and among other things, your credit card got stolen. Then the thief proceeds to go on a shopping spree with it. Some policies may cover those expenses under their credit card fraud policy, but check with your insurance provider.

7. Other people’s property

If you borrowed something from a friend and it was stolen from your apartment together with the aforementioned credit card, chances are your insurance policy will cover it.

8. Items stored elsewhere

Got things tucked away in storage? Fear not, as your policy will most likely cover any damages or theft that may occur in storage, as well! Just make sure to check with your insurance plan provider.

9. Food

Now the fridge is broken. Don’t worry, you may be able to claim all the spoiled contents of your midnight friend under your insurance policy. This even includes spoiled foods due to a power outage, something most likely known in your policy as the “short-circuit damage” category.

Not only does renters insurance often cover the above liabilities, another great perk is it follows the renter. This means if you go on vacation and your hotel room is broken into, renters insurance will cover the cost of replacing your stolen goods even though you weren’t in your apartment at the time of the theft. Just another great perk of having renters insurance.

What Does Renter's Insurance Not Cover?

By now you’re probably under the impression that renters insurance is literally magic. However, like all healthy relationships, your policy will draw some boundaries. Renters insurance doesn’t cover everything. Below are a common events that if they occur and cause damage to your property are not commonly covered under renters insurance:

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Sinkholes
  • Bed bugs and other pests
  • Damage to or theft of your car

Do You Need Extra Coverage?

Renters insurance will cover your TV and toothbrush, but what about that collection of Queen vinyl records? Collector items or more prized possessions are usually not covered by standard renters insurance plans. Look into adding a rider - a special insurance plan for high-value items - to your policy plan. It will cost you, but to be better safe than sorry.

Renters pet insurance most likely also will not come included in your average policy package. Don't worry, you can add it to your regular insurance plan. For more details ask you insurance provider.

What Else Should You Keep In Mind?

You are responsible for making sure that everything you want to have covered by the insurance policy is actually included in the plan. This means that before you submit your paperwork, take note of all the items you are looking to get insured. Photographs are a great way to prove the before and after states of an item in case damage occurs. It’s also good to keep receipts or take photos of them, as they will prove the value of the damaged items. Back these photos up to the Cloud or save them in your hard drive. It may be a few days of tedious work, but it will all be worth it if anything happens to your favorite couch or that vase your great-grandmother gave you.

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Angelina is a Marketing Specialist at Apartment List where she writes content on rental lifestyle. Angelina previously worked as a Russian and German language specialist at Facebook and Google, and has a BA in Applied Linguistics from UCLA. Read More
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