If you’re a renter, your landlord may have some insurance covering the physical building where you live. However, their policy won’t cover your own possessions in the event of a natural disaster, break-in, or other problem. If you’re looking to protect your personal property, renters insurance is a great choice.
Additionally, some landlords require their tenants to get insurance before they can move in. Luckily, renters insurance will apply in these situations, too.
Below, we’ll break down the details of renters insurance so you can decide whether it’s the right fit — and what provider may be best — for you.
What Is Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance is a form of financial protection for those of us who rent our homes. Homeowners have homeowners insurance; renters have rental insurance: these are two different types of coverage.
If you live in a rental property, you might assume that your landlord probably has insurance that covers their investment in the property. In many places, it’s required by law.
However, your personal items (things like furniture, family photos, clothes, and electronics) will never be covered by your landlord’s insurance. If you want to protect your belongings for your own peace of mind — or if your landlord requires that you get a policy as a condition of your tenancy — then renters insurance will be needed.
Why Do Renters Need Insurance?
If a falling tree breaks a window or if there’s a fire or another type of natural disaster, your landlord’s property insurance policy will typically cover the damage to the building.
However, if some of your personal property is damaged in the same incident, renters insurance is what will help you replace or restore those items. Renters insurance can also apply if vandalism occurs, and some policies may even cover items in your auto if it’s broken into.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Renters insurance is mainly for your personal possessions, but it can also cover other essential expenses in case of an accident or catastrophe.
Personal property coverage is the most standard type of renters insurance, and it’s where most policies begin. It includes all of the personal possessions mentioned above.
To get insurance for your valuables and collectibles, you will need to take some time to add up the value of your belongings and do a home inventory. Some valuable items may need an appraisal and will have to be added as a rider/endorsement to your renters policy.
This type of coverage covers actions that take place in your home instead of things you own. If you, anyone living in the home with you, or your pets cause property damage or injury to someone or something in the home you rent, liability insurance protects you in case of a lawsuit. In some cases, liability protection also covers medical expenses if a visitor sustains a bodily injury in your home.
Renters liability insurance usually has a coverage limit. The more financial coverage you want, the higher the premiums are.
Additional Living Expenses Coverage
This is a lesser-known feature of renters insurance, but it’s very important to ask if additional living expenses coverage can be added to your policy from day one. If something happens to your home and you can’t live there (think a fire, flood, windstorm, pest infestation, etc.), renters insurance may cover the cost of staying in a hotel or a temporary rental if you have this coverage.
If for some reason, you’re only displaced from one part of your home, additional living expenses coverage could possibly also help you there. For example, if you have an electrical problem in your kitchen, your renters insurance could potentially cover the cost of eating meals in a restaurant.
Additional living expenses can make a significant difference in how physically comfortable you’ll be in the aftermath of a real disaster. It can cover everything from increased travel mileage costs with a temporary relocation to moving and reconnection costs. Talk to your agent or connect with an Expert Agent to see if this additional coverage is right for you.
What Are the Types of Renters Insurance?
There are two main types of renters insurance for personal belongings: actual cash value and replacement cost.
Actual cash value insurance can replace the cost of your personal possessions, minus the amount of value that they lose over time by being used. This is where your home inventory can come in very handy. If you make a claim on an actual cash value renters insurance policy, your insurer could potentially reimburse you with a check that you can use to go and buy brand-new items.
Replacement cost insurance pays the upfront cost of replacing your possessions without factoring in the depreciation of those possessions through use or time. In other words, replacement cost insurance pays you the amount it would cost to buy all new things rather than the value of your used ones.
This type of insurance is often a little more expensive than actual cash value insurance, but the extra money it will potentially pay in case of a disaster can be well worth it.
How Much Does Renters Insurance Cost?
Your renters insurance quote may be influenced by a few things.
First, the total cost of your renter’s insurance premiums is connected to the total value of your possessions, as well as other factors like where you live, how old the building is, and other information about you and your home. These factors, plus the type of policy limit you choose, make a difference in the cost of your insurance premium.
There are a lot of renters insurance providers, and it’s always a good idea to do research into what your policy will and will not cover — and how you can get the best deal.
With Guaranteed Rate Insurance, bundling your renters insurance with other types of insurance products such as auto insurance is one way you could potentially save money.
How Can I Make a Renters Insurance Claim?
Insurance is meant to be backup protection in case of an unfortunate event, so we hope you don’t have to use your renters insurance. However, if you do, it’s helpful to know the process of making a claim on your renters insurance.
Assess the Damage
First things first: you’ll want to figure out what damage was done and how much. It can be hard to make a list, but it’s vital if you want to quickly recoup the value of your lost or damaged items.
If the damage is the result of a break-in or if items were stolen, your first step is to call the police and file a report.
If the damage is from a natural disaster or accident, you’ll need to go through your property to determine what is damaged beyond repair, what is salvageable, and what survived the accident in good shape.
Either way, you’ll need to make a list of damaged or missing items. If you have any pictures or videos of the items before and after damage — or even old receipts documenting your purchase — include them with your list. They’ll help you file an accurate claim for reimbursement.
If you have to relocate temporarily or spend money on other expenses related to the break-in or natural disaster, make sure you keep all of your receipts for hotel bills. You’ll need them to file for additional living expenses coverage if you have that on your policy.
Call Your Insurance Agent
The next step is to call your insurance agent to notify them of your claim. You’ll report the damage and ask some important questions about the filing process.
Some of the questions you might want to consider asking your insurance company are:
- Have I met my deductible?
- How can I file a claim?
- When is the deadline to file a renters insurance claim?
- Do I have enough coverage for the damages I’ve assessed? Does this count as a covered loss?
- How long is the process of filing a claim?
These and other questions can make the process of filing a renters insurance claim a little less stressful.
Fill Out Your Claim Form
Your insurance agent has a specific time limit to send you claims forms after you let them know about the trouble. When you receive these forms, fill them out accurately and return them ASAP. The sooner you send them, the quicker you might be reimbursed for your claim.
Every state has specific regulations that affect renters insurance claims. If you have any problems filing a claim, you can contact your state insurance commissioner for additional help.
The Bottom Line
Renters insurance coverage may cover the replacement costs of all of the things that make your rental house a home. It could also cover the cost of keeping you comfortable if you have to temporarily relocate because of home repairs.
Getting renters insurance can be pretty simple and hassle-free. Connect with an Expert Agent today to learn about the different renters insurance options — and find the right policy for yourself and your needs.
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