What is Renters Insurance? Complete Guide to Renters Insurance Coverage

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If there’s one thing in life to always bank on, it’s to expect the unexpected. While we like to think we have everything figured out, it’s hard to predict when certain events will occur. Whether it’s an accidental fender bender in stop-and-go traffic, a crushed roof from a fallen tree branch, or an unanticipated medical emergency, having the right insurance coverage might save you time, money, and headaches.

One insurance coverage policy that may be worth investing in is renters insurance. Pew Research Center found that more people are renting today than at any point in the past 50 years. This study also found that certain demographic groups, such as those with lesser education, young adults, and non-whites, are more likely to rent than other groups. With more renters on the market than ever before, it’s important to consider the various financial protections renters can take advantage of.

If you’re living in a rental property and want to ensure you, your belongings, property, and guests are covered from any unforeseen circumstances, continue reading our guide to renters insurance coverage below.

What is Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance is a form of risk management that protects you and your property, and generally provides legal defense fees and medical costs for anyone who may become injured on your rented property if you are found at fault. Renters insurance is like most insurance policies, such as home and auto insurance, where you buy a policy and make recurring payments. Then, if anything were to happen, such as a burglary, you can make a claim, and your renters insurance will provide a certain level of compensation for the stolen items.

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

If you’re wondering, “What does renters insurance cover?” the answer is, quite a lot, depending on the coverage you select. From vandalism to explosions and everything in between, renters insurance coverage may give you peace of mind knowing your valuable items are protected.

Personal Property

You can never predict when disaster strikes. Your roof caves in after a blistering snowstorm, freezing you out of your home. You run down the street to get some groceries and return to find your apartment was ransacked. Or, a clueless driver plows right through your living room. It’s either happened to you or someone you know and while sympathy can ease some of the pain, usually money is the only way to replace valuable items like furniture and electronics. That’s where renters insurance coverage comes in handy.

Here’s a list of some events where a renters insurance policy might have tenants covered:

  • Theft: If someone breaks into your house and steals your personal property, such as your laptop, cash, or other items, your renters insurance may cover you once you pay your deductible. Renters insurance doesn’t only cover items in your home either. If you go on vacation and get pickpocketed, or someone breaks into your car while shopping at the mall, you can file an insurance claim for those losses as well.
  • Vandalism: If someone breaks into your home and decides to destroy your property with mischievous intent, you can file a claim to get reimbursed. So, if the neighborhood kids decide to drive by and smash your mailbox with a baseball bat, your renters insurance policy will have your back.
  • Fire, windstorms, lightning, hail, or volcanic eruptions: Basic renters insurance may cover damage inflicted by fire, windstorms, lightning, hail, and even volcanic eruptions. If a flash storm rolls through during the summer and your home gets struck by lightning, many of the damages might be covered.
  • Smoke: While fires are covered under renters insurance, so is smoke. Sometimes, smoke can damage your personal property without a fire even being present. For example, if you live in an apartment complex and a neighboring unit catches on fire and smoke seeps into your apartment, your renters insurance coverage can help with smoke-related damages.
  • An aircraft or vehicle that’s not your own: Unfortunately, if you happen to drive your car into your home, renters insurance usually won’t cover the expenses. However, if another driver or an airplane crashes into your apartment, renters insurance might come to the rescue and pay for damages that are covered within your policy.
  • Snow, ice, or sleet collapse: While it’s a good practice to shovel snow off of your roof, sometimes it’s extremely difficult or impossible. If heavy snow, sleet, or ice causes your roof to collapse, your renters insurance policy can help cover replacement costs for damaged items.
  • A short-circuit: A short-circuit is when an electrical device malfunctions or fails. A short-circuit can cause a variety of problems, such as a damaged TV or appliance. And, if your power goes out and all of your food in your fridge and freezer spoils, you can file a claim to cover the cost of your perished food.
  • Water or steam overflow: You never know when a pipe will burst, and when it does, it can lead to all sorts of problems. Rest assured knowing your renters insurance policy may cover damages that result from water or steam overflow.
  • Frozen plumbing: Sometimes, the sheer cold is strong enough to freeze the water in plumbing and HVAC systems. Then, if you try and run hot water, the frozen water can expand and may lead to a cracked piped, pouring water throughout your home. Some renters insurance plans may cover these damages. However, if you were away when the frozen pipe burst and you didn’t take necessary precautions to keep your home properly heated, you may be at fault and left with no coverage.
  • Water or steam-heating appliances: Additionally, any water damage from water or steam-heating appliances, such as your dishwasher or laundry machine, may be covered by your renters insurance policy.
  • Falling objects: Have you ever wondered what would happen if an asteroid came crashing through your home? If so, have peace of mind knowing your renters insurance coverage may take care of the destruction from falling objects such as fallen trees and space debris.
  • Riots: If a riot breaks out around your apartment and someone damages your personal belongings, your renters insurance coverage can help take care of the costs.
  • Explosions: Whether a transformer blew up or someone set off an explosive device that causes damage to the home you rent, your renters insurance policy may help pay for any of your items that were destroyed.
  • Other scenarios: Renters insurance may cover other scenarios as well. For example, Trulia explains how renters insurance can cover things such as waterbed leaks and even dog bites. Additionally, renters insurance can even cover bank or credit card forgery if a thief snatches your financial information from your home and decides to go on a spending spree.

Living expenses

The answer to the question, “What does renter’s insurance cover?” is not complete just yet. Let’s say, for example, a tree came crashing down in the winter, leaving a gaping hole in your home or apartment. You most likely won’t be able to live in your house, or you might freeze. If your place of residence becomes uninhabitable, renters insurance can help cover your living expenses while your rented home or apartment is under construction. These expenses include things such as hotel costs, groceries, and other incidental expenditures.

What Does Personal Liability Renters Insurance Cover?

A final area of expenses rental insurance covers is personal liability. Renters liability insurance may cover you if you are at fault for injuries that occur on your property. For example, if someone gets hurt on your property and decides to file a lawsuit, renters liability insurance might help pay for your legal fees, as well as medical expenses of the person who got injured.

Renters liability insurance may also cover the expenses of another person’s stolen or damaged property that happens in the home or apartment you rent. So, if you decided to borrow your brother’s laptop, and it was destroyed after a fire, a renters liability insurance might take care of the cost.

Ultimately, coverage can vary between insurance providers, so do your research and consider all of your options before selecting a renters insurance policy.

What Does Renters Insurance Not Cover?

While it may seem like renters insurance covers everything, there are a few things that are often not covered.

  • Personal belongings damaged from natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods: If you live in a high-risk area for natural disasters, such as Tornado Alley, along a river, or in a hurricane-prone area, you may need flood, earthquake, or other types of specialized insurance policies.
  • Theft or damage to your vehicle: While the valuables inside your car may be covered by renters insurance, any damage to your car, or theft of your car, is not typically covered. To insure your car, you might consider purchasing auto insurance.
  • Your roommate’s belongings: Unfortunately, your roommate won’t be able to freeload off your renters insurance plan. Instead, if they want their valuables covered, they will need their own renters insurance policy.
  • Damage caused by rodents and pests: Any damage from rodents such as bed bugs, mice, cockroaches, and other pests are often not covered by renters insurance.
  • High-value items like jewelry, antiques, and family heirlooms: If you have expensive items, such as antiques, high-end jewelry, or other valuable pieces, your renters insurance may not cover the cost if they’re stolen or damaged. Instead, you might consider purchasing additional coverage or buying a standalone policy.
  • Damages incurred from nuclear war or terrorism: This may not be your first thought, but many renters insurance policies exclude damages from nuclear war or terrorism on their plan. If you’re worried your home or apartment may be subject to destruction from war or terrorism, you might consider purchasing extra coverage.

How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of renters insurance premiums in 2016 came in at about $185 a year. Broken down monthly, the average renters insurance policy costs about $15.50 per month. When searching for renters insurance, it’s also important to know how your credit score comes into play.

The Insurance Information Institute explains how your credit score may impact your insurance score to determine if you have a history of making claims. A history of filing more claims may lead them to charge you more money. At Turbo, you can take advantage of our financial health tool and obtain a free credit report to determine where you stand so you can purchase a renters insurance policy that fits in your budget.

Key Takeaways on Renters Insurance

If you’re asking yourself, “What does renters insurance cover?” hopefully you can use this guide as a resource. Renters insurance coverage is a great way to protect some of your personal items and belongings, as well as the belongings and health of others visiting your property, so consider if this kind of policy is right for you.