As a tenant, you’re not responsible for insuring the building you live in. That’s the landlord’s responsibility. But you are responsible for taking out renters insurance to protect your personal belongings and provide liability coverage.
While not legally required, most renters should seriously consider obtaining renters insurance to protect themselves and their property.
What is Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance (also known as tenants insurance or HO-4 renters insurance) is an insurance policy you take out when renting a property. The purpose of this policy is to protect your personal belongings and provide liability coverage.
Renters insurance is similar to homeowners insurance because it covers the same scenarios (e.g. fire and theft). However, renters insurance is significantly less expensive because it only ensures your belongings and not the physical building.
Additionally, the liability portion of renters insurance protects you against losses if anybody is injured on the property you rent.
If the injury is due to a structural issue with the building, the landlord’s insurance will step in and cover any losses. However, if the injury is due to non-structural issues (for example, if someone trips over a loose piece of wood on the lawn of a house you’re renting), then your renters insurance policy will cover the losses.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Renters insurance doesn’t only cover your personal items. It also pays your reasonable expenses if you have to temporarily relocate due to building repairs, includes liability insurance, and provides medical payments to anybody injured on the property (as long as the injury isn’t due to a structural issue with the building).
Your renters insurance policy will reimburse you for the cost of repairing or replacing your personal items if they are lost or damaged due to specific events listed in your policy.
Most policies include coverage for the following events:
- Fire and smoke damage
- Lightning, windstorm, and hail damage
- Riot or civil unrest
- Damages caused by aircraft or vehicles
- Volcanic eruption
- An object falling on your property
- Damage from snow, ice, and sleet
- Accidental discharge of water and stream or cracking and burning from within certain household systems or appliances
- Household appliances or systems freezing
- Accidental damage from artificially generated electric currents
Renters insurance protects your belongings whether or not you were in the building during the event. For instance, if a fire starts in the building you’re renting while you’re at work, your renters insurance will still cover the losses of your personal belonging even though you were away from the building when the fire started.
What Renters Insurance Doesn’t Cover
As with any insurance policy, your renters insurance has exclusions. There are four main exclusions to most rental insurance policies:
- Flood damage
- Earthquake damage
- Your roommate’s belongings
If you want coverage for those four events, you have to purchase additional optional coverage.
Depending on your state laws, you may be able to add a secondary insured on renters insurance to cover your roommate’s belongings as well. But, it is best practice for each person to get their own individual policy.
Optional Renters Insurance Coverage
If you need insurance for less common events that aren’t included in the standard renters insurance policy, you can add optional add-ons to your policy.
You can add insurance coverage for things like earthquakes, floods, or a sinkhole endorsement if you live in an area where these events are more common. You can even increase the amount of your renters insurance coverage as an optional add-on.
You should speak with your insurance provider about any optional add-ons you want in your renters insurance policy. Not every policy provider offers every add-on, so you may have to seek out a different insurance provider to get the extra coverage you want.
How Much Renters Insurance Do I Need?
The amount of renters insurance you need depends on how much the personal belongings you’re insuring are worth. You can use a renters insurance calculator to figure out how much your belongings are worth and how much renters insurance you need.
The average renters insurance policy includes $100,000 worth of liability insurance, which should be enough for the average person. You do have the option of adding more liability coverage if you wish.
How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?
The cost of your renters insurance depends on your level of coverage and where you live.
In the United States, the average annual cost of renters insurance is $168. Louisiana has the highest average annual cost at $262 and renters insurance in Wyoming is the least expensive at only $101 on average per year.
All things considered, renters insurance is very affordable, and it is worth paying a little bit of money to protect yourself from unexpected damages.
How Do I Get Renters Insurance?
It is easy and straightforward to get renters insurance. Nearly every insurance company providers renters insurance, and you can normally complete an application online.
Some insurance companies offer a deal if you purchase both your car and renters insurance through them, so you may want to contact your car insurance company when getting quotes for renters insurance.
No matter what you should always shop around and find the best deal on renters insurance. According to US News, the cheapest renters insurance providers include Nationwide, State Farm, and Farmers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Renters Insurance Required by Law?
Renters insurance is not required by law; however, many landlords require their tenants to have renters insurance as part of the lease agreement.
You should always read the lease agreement closely before signing to ensure you’ve met all the requirements and that there are no requirements you don’t feel comfortable with.
Is There Pit Bull-Friendly Renters Insurance?
Unfortunately, many insurers consider pit bulls to be aggressive dogs. This makes it more difficult for pit bull owners .
When completing your renters insurance application, you’re asked what breed of dog you own. If you answer pitbull, most insurance providers will decline your application.
Your renters insurance provides liability insurance which covers any damages related to your dog biting someone. Renters insurance companies consider pit bulls as more likely to bite people aggressively and don’t want to be liable for these damages.
However, there are some insurers that are more accepting of pit bull owners. For instance, State Farm doesn’t ask about your dog’s breed and universally approves renters insurance for pit bull owners.
Whether or not your renters insurance covers a trampoline depends on your insurance provider and policy.
Some insurance companies will approve you for renters insurance if you disclose you own a trampoline and others won’t. Even if the insurance company approves your application, your premiums will be higher if you own a trampoline.
Trampolines are considered attractive nuisances because they pose a great liability risk for insurers. The more risk an insurance company takes on when insuring you, the higher your premiums.
If you purchase a trampoline after you’re approved for renters insurance, it is your responsibility to notify your insurance provider. Your renters insurance policy could potentially be voided if you don’t notify your insurance company that there is now a trampoline on the property.
Can You Backdate Renters Insurance?
You cannot backdate renters insurance—especially if you’re trying to obtain coverage for a loss that already happened. If there was no coverage in place at the time of the loss, you can’t get coverage for it now.
It is important that you obtain your renters insurance policy as soon as you move into a rented home to ensure you’re properly protected from the day you move in.
You also need to make your monthly or annual payments on time to ensure your coverage is maintained throughout and there are no gaps in coverage.
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