What Is Renters Insurance? Everything You Need To Know

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If you don’t have renters insurance, you’re playing with fire. Or flooding. Or burglars. And those are just a few of the disasters that could befall your home and everything in it which is everything you own. But nearly half of those who rent their home don’t have renters insurance. Perhaps that number is so high because renters assume that the landlord’s insurance will cover their belongings. That isn’t true. If you rent and don’t have renters insurance, you’re living dangerously.

What is Renter’s Insurance?

Renters insurance does a lot more than protect your personal belongings. A basic renters insurance policy covers the cost to repair or replace items in your apartment damaged by natural disasters and things like fire, water damage (not caused by flooding), theft, and vandalism.

If you store belongings outside of your apartment, in a storage facility or a storage room in your apartment building, the policy covers those items the same way it covers the belongings inside your apartment. If you’re a victim of theft outside your home, your laptop is stolen while traveling; for example, renters insurance will pay to replace it.

Should your apartment sustain damage that renders it uninhabitable, renters insurance covers the cost of temporary housing and basic necessities like food and clothing.

Renters insurance provides personal liability coverage. If a guest in your home was injured, including an injury caused by a pet (some dog breeds are excluded) the policy covers legal and medical expenses.

Getting renters insurance is fast and easy. These companies can give an online quote within minutes:

  • Lemonade insurance uses a peer-to-peer business model that puts its customers above profits. With Lemonade, it only takes 90 seconds to get coverage and 3 minutes to get paid when you file a claim. You can get buy a policy for as little as $5 a month.
  • Liberty Mutual covers areas many insurers won’t service so if you live in an area prone to natural disasters, Liberty Mutual will be there for you. You can save when you bundle your renters and auto insurance.

Who Needs Renters Insurance?

Anyone who rents a home should have renters insurance. Yes, your landlord has insurance on the property you rent, but that covers damage to the structure. It does not cover the tenant’s belongings. Some landlords require tenants to buy renters insurance before they agree to rent the apartment to you.

Maybe you don’t think your things are valuable enough to be insured, but if everything you owned was destroyed or stolen, you would suddenly realize just how much your stuff was worth as you paid to replace all of it out of pocket.

If your upstairs neighbor left their sink running and it flooded your apartment, where would you live while your apartment was repaired? Could you afford to stay in a hotel and eat every meal out until the work was done?

And we’ve shown that renters insurance covers more than just what is inside your apartment. If someone was injured in your home, how would you afford to pay for their medical expenses and a settlement if they were to sue you?

Maybe you realize you should have renters insurance but think you can’t afford it. Wrong! Renters insurance is really affordable. You can get a basic policy for less $30 a month, often a lot less than $30.

What Renters Insurance Does Not Cover

Basic renters insurance typically does not cover damage from flooding or earthquakes. You can often purchase coverage for those from the same insurance company that holds your basic policy though. Not everyone needs these additional policies.

You can find out if your apartment is located in a flood zone by entering the address into the FEMA Flood Map Service Center. FEMA has a similar site to help you determine if you live in an earthquake-prone area. 

A basic policy typically offers $20,000-$50,000 worth of personal items coverage. If you have high-value personal items like fine art, jewelry, bicycles, camera equipment or musical instruments, basic renters insurance likely won’t cover their value. You can buy a separate rider from the same insurance company to cover those items usually for just a few more dollars per month.

Most policies won’t provide coverage for accidental loss of personal items. If you lose your laptop, you’ll have to buy a replacement out of pocket. Personal items damaged by your pet are generally not covered either

A renters policy typically does not cover accidental loss by the owner, so if you lose your phone, you’re out of luck. If your pet damages property (the old “the dog ate my homework” defense), that is also not covered.

If you live with a spouse, their property is covered under your policy, but that isn’t true in the case of a roommate. Your roommate must purchase their own renter’s insurance.

Determining Your Coverage Needs

You could go through your apartment and take an inventory of all of your belongings and estimate the cost of everything, but that is tedious, time-consuming, and pretty inexact. Quick, how much is your TV worth? You don’t know, you could look it up, but there is an easier way.

You can apply and purchase renters insurance online; often you don’t even have to speak to an agent. You typically don’t have to submit an inventory or receipts proving the cost of personal items you’ve purchased but should you ever need to file a claim, it’s helpful to have these things, and you should store them somewhere other than your apartment.

As part of the online process, you’ll answer some questions. Things like what type of building you live in, the location, what its constructed of, if you have pets, what safety features your home has (fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, deadbolt lock, etc.). How many bedrooms your apartment has and if you own fine art, jewelry, etc.

Based on your answers, you can get a quote. Either immediately online or by calling an agent with the provided ID number. I entered my information into Lemonade, and this is the coverage and quote I got.

  • Personal Property Coverage $50,000
  • Personal Liability Coverage $100,000
  • Loss of Use Coverage $15,000
  • Medical Payments to Others $1,000

My monthly cost for this coverage with a $250 deductible (the lowest amount, you can select a higher deductible which will lower your monthly cost) was $14.92 per month. Most of us probably spend more than that per month on coffee. I told you renters insurance was affordable!

Where to Get Renters Insurance

It’s fast and convenient to learn how much renters insurance coverage you need based on your circumstances,  to get a quote, and purchase coverage right from your computer or smartphone.

→ Lemonade provides renters, co-op, and homeowners insurance. The policy covers everyone in the dwelling who is related to you. Lemonade provides replacement value on your personal belongings meaning you’ll receive the dollar amount required to replace an item stolen or damaged under the terms of the policy.

Lemonade makes things fast and easy for its customers. You can get coverage in just 90 seconds and have your claim paid out in just three days. Coverage starts at just $5 a month.

Get a quick quote from Lemonade.

→ Liberty Mutual can give you an estimate based on the number of rooms your apartment has, but if you want more accurate coverage, the website offers a renters insurance coverage calculator that you can use to get a more precise dollar amount for the value of your personal belongings.

The company also offers group discounts for members of more than 14,000 organizations. If you belong to a particular profession, alumni, or civic group, you may be eligible for savings on your renter’s insurance policy with Liberty Mutual. Customers who pair renters insurance with auto insurance can save even more.

Check your policy rate with Liberty Mutual.

Don’t Take the Risk

You never know when disaster will strike. Even if you don’t live in an area at high risk for a natural disaster, there are all kinds of other disasters that can befall you. Your neighbor falls asleep without remembering to blow out a candle, and everything you own goes up in smoke.

Someone’s visitor doesn’t latch the front door of your building, and someone breaks in and steals your phone, wallet, and laptop. A pipe bursts while you’re at work one day and floods not only your apartment but the apartment below you as well.

All of these things are upsetting and stressful, but they are infinitely worse when you don’t have renters insurance. Even a fully-funded emergency fund is likely not enough to replace everything you own if the worst were to happen. And that’s not what an emergency fund is for. That’s what renters insurance is for.

It will only take you a few minutes, and a few Starbucks trips a month worth of money to protect everything you own from unseen disasters. Buy renters insurance today.