What is renters insurance and what does it cover?

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Renters insurance is a type of homeowners insurance, known as HO-4, that protects renters’ belongings from a fire, storm, or theft. 

Your landlord has insurance that covers the building and structure, but your belongings inside the rental unit are your responsibility.

What is renters insurance?

There are two main parts of coverage to a renters insurance policy: personal property coverage and personal liability coverage. It also provides “loss of use” coverage if your rental becomes unlivable due to damage.

Renters insurance protects your personal property if it’s damaged by a covered event, known as an insurance peril. Common insurance perils include fire, smoke, theft, and storms. Here is a list of named perils covered by renters insurance:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riots
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging
  • Freezing
  • Sudden and accidental damage due to short circuiting
  • Volcanic eruption

Source: Data from The Zebra and Lemonade

What does renters insurance cover?

Yael Wissner-Levy, vice president of communications at Lemonade Insurance, told Insider that renters insurance covers three things:

  1. Things that happen to your stuff
  2. Things that you’re responsible for
  3. Events that force you out of your rental

*Available as add-on coverage

**Flood insurance is separate coverage

Data from Hippo Insurance

Personal liability protection from your renters insurance policy could help protect you if someone sues you for injuries that happened in your rental or if your pet bites someone. 

Some renters insurance policies will cover a portion of your costs if you have to temporarily relocate because your apartment was damaged, known as loss of use. Basic home belongings are covered, but you may need additional coverage — known as riders or endorsements — for specialty items like wedding rings or other jewelry, cameras, artwork, bicycles, or musical instruments. 

Wissner-Levy noted that as a renter, you are protected from anything that suddenly causes water damage without any prior known issues, like the accidental overflow of water or steam from plumbing, heating, AC, or sprinkler systems. You’re also protected if your apartment sprinklers go off and soak all your belongings, or if your pipes freeze in the winter and burst.

If you have a pet, you should inform your agent if you have an exotic animal, large dog, or certain breeds to make sure you are covered. There may be limits to liability coverage if your pet attacks or dog bites a guest. If you fail to disclose the breed or that your pet is an exotic animal, renters insurance may deny your claim.

Renters insurance doesn’t cover roommates

Renters insurance doesn’t cover your roommate. If you have a roommate, each roommate should get their own policy. Renters insurance only covers the insured policyholder. It does not extend to other people living in the apartment or house. 

How much does renters insurance cost?

The average cost of renters insurance is around $15 a month, or $180 yearly. Some factors that go into determining your premium are the amount of coverage you want: where you live, if you own a pet, and your credit score. If you already have auto insurance, you may get discounts from your provider for bundling your renters and

auto insurance

If you rent in disaster-prone areas — flood zones, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, mudslides, hail, and earthquakes — will have increased premiums because they’re not included in basic coverage and will need to be add-on policies, known as a rider. 

How much renters insurance do I need?

Your renters insurance premium is based on the amount of money it would take to replace your belongings. Renters insurance policies cover up to a certain amount, usually around $20,000 or $30,000 worth of coverage. Determining the value of your belongings will help you decide how much coverage to get. 

How to get renters insurance

Renters insurance prices can vary by state. Where you live will play a big role in your quote and each company will consider that differently. 

To be sure that you’re getting the best price for your renters insurance coverage, you’ll want to shop online and get quotes from several different insurers. Compare the quotes, and look for the most coverage types and limits. Then, look for the lowest premiums that fit your budget. 

If you have auto insurance, consider bundling your renters and car insurance. See Insider’s picks for the best renters insurance companies.

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