Is your rented home fully covered in the case of an incident? What does your renters’ insurance cover, and what exclusions do you need to be aware of—and get supplemental insurance for?
(Find out if you even need renters insurance here.)
What does renters insurance cover?
Renters insurance, also called HO-4 insurance, usually includes three primary parts:
- Personal property coverage
- Additional living expenses
Personal property coverage
Since you live in a rented home, your landlord is responsible for all the physical structures of the unit. If you’re in a rented house, they’re responsible for the foundation, walls, and grounds. If you live in an apartment building, your landlord is responsible for everything outside of your apartment door.
That means you’re still responsible for everything inside the structure, though, like all of your personal belongings. If an incident were to completely destroy all of your personal effects, like your furniture, electronics, appliances, and clothing, your renters insurance would step in to cover these items under personal property coverage.
A typical renters insurance policy covers your personal belongings against the following perils:
- Fire + lightning
- Windstorm + hail
- Explosions + riots
- Damage by aircrafts/vehicles
- Volcanic eruptions
- Falling objects
- Ice, snow, sleet
- Plumbing failures
- Sudden electrical damage
- Freezing of systems or appliances
P.S. Your renters’ insurance will generally cover your personal property even if it’s taken off the property. Note that there may be lower limits when lost off-property, though, so be sure to check on what your policy offers with your insurance agent.
Learn more about contents coverage here.
When to consider supplemental insurance for your renters personal property coverage
There are some perils that are usually excluded from personal property coverage including flood, earthquakes, sinkholes, and pests. You’ll still want to protect against these potential disasters, so you’ll want to purchase supplemental insurance. We’ll discuss this more below.
There are limits on coverage for your personal property, especially high-value items like jewelry, collectibles, guns, and artwork. You’ll want to make sure your personal property limits are enough to cover all of your belongings. If not, you’ll need an endorsement or rider, which we explain more below.
Along with protection of your property, renters insurance will also cover your personal liability. This means it will pay for damages to another party for which you are found responsible. This can include if someone is injured on your property, your dog bites someone, libel and slander, and other instances where you are found personally liable.
When to consider supplemental insurance for your renters liability coverage
The liability coverage included in a typical renters insurance policy may not be enough to protect all of your assets. It’s common for a standard renters policy to have limits between $100,000 and $500,000. For some people, this may be enough liability insurance. But things happen, and liability can land you with a hefty lawsuit with serious expenses. Consider an umbrella policy to extend the limits of your liability, which we’ll discuss more below.
Most renters insurance will cover additional living expenses, which are the costs you incur while your apartment is being repaired from a covered peril. This includes things like a hotel, meals, or laundry while you’re displaced.
For example, a fire damages your apartment and belongings. You can’t live in your apartment for two weeks. During that time, you stay in a hotel. Additional living expenses will pay for your stay up to a certain limit (unfortunately, no, it likely won’t cover a stay at the fanciest hotel in town).
Your renters’ insurance may also cover some unique scenarios like:
- If you borrow a friend’s property and it’s damaged in your apartment during a covered peril
- You have credit card or bank theft
- You suffer a power outage from a covered peril and all the food in your fridge goes bad, it may cover the food
- Your bicycles or other special equipment (up to coverage limits)
- No-fault medical payment coverage
Supplemental insurance to consider adding onto your renters policy
1. Flood and earthquake insurance
If you live in an area at high risk for flood or earthquake, you’ll want to consider purchasing supplemental insurance for these events. If you’re in a high-risk zone for either event, your landlord may require you purchase supplemental insurance. For example, it’s not uncommon for apartments on the California fault line to need earthquake insurance.
If you’re not sure whether or not you need flood or earthquake insurance, discuss your risk with an insurance agent. You can’t predict the weather, so it’s best to safeguard against it with insurance.
Learn more about flood insurance as a renter here.
2. Valuables endorsements
Your personal property policy covers your belongings up to a limit. You may have a policy with $50,000 worth of coverage, but you have $70,000 worth of valuables. That means you’d be left with $20,000 out of pocket in the case of a total loss.
This is especially the case for high-value items like jewelry, fine art, and collectibles. For these valuables, your renters insurance may actually have a small limit like $1,500. You’ll then need to purchase supplemental insurance on top of that, which is called an endorsement or rider. These are policies specific to your high-ticket items, like a floater for your jewels and a floater for your Star Wars collectibles.
If you have any valuables that extend past your contents coverage, you’ll want to talk to an agent about an additional endorsement.
3. Umbrella insurance
Renters insurance includes personal liability, which helps protect you if someone sues you. If you’re found at fault for another party’s damages, you could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. This includes anything and everything from someone spraining their ankle in your home to accusing you of slander to medical bills from a dog bite and beyond. See the 8 most common liability claims that use umbrella insurance.
You don’t want to take a risk when it comes to liability. If you’re responsible for damages, the other party could sue you for everything you own—and then some. That’s why we recommend renters consider umbrella insurance. Umbrella policies start at $1 million in coverage, which can give you greater peace of mind. Considering umbrella policies are usually inexpensive, bundling an umbrella policy with your renters insurance makes a lot of sense.
Get more information about umbrella insurance here.
You’ll want to check with your agent to find out about other possible exclusions from your renters’ insurance—and how you can fill in those gaps. For example, most renters insurance do not cover acts of terrorism or war. If you live in a major city or hub, you might want to purchase additional insurance to protect yourself against any and all possibilities.
Most renters insurance will also only cover the property of the policyholder—not your roommates. You may be able to purchase a joint policy, especially if you’re domestic partners, but not all insurers offer this. See what your insurance company will offer you and your roommate, if you decide to share. However, it’s usually a better idea to purchase your own insurance so you can ensure you have adequate coverage for your own items. You want to protect yourself regardless of any situation—even an unexpected falling out with a friend.
Another important note. If you work out of your apartment, you’ll likely need to purchase business insurance to protect your workspace and work activity. Your renters insurance will usually not cover any items that belong to your business and/or any business-related liability.
The Bottom Line
Renters insurance is one of the most inexpensive types of insurance available. You are primarily protecting your belongings and your liability, since your landlord is responsible for the structure itself. That means renters is usually a cost-effective and smart consideration that every renter should look into.
But sometimes standard renters insurance isn’t enough. You may want to consider supplemental insurance, like flood and earthquake, valuable riders, and umbrella insurance to ensure you’re completely covered.
Compare renters insurance quotes with one of our expert insurance advisors at (844) 522-0543 today and see how much we can help you save!
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