Last updated: July 2022
If you came home to find your TV and laptop stolen, could you afford to replace them? What if a burst pipe leaked into your closet and ruined all of your clothes?
You'd probably find it hard to pay to replace these things, especially if you're on a tight budget. That's one reason many renters choose to buy renters insurance. Renters insurance can be an affordable security blanket that helps protect you and your belongings from many unpleasant surprises.
What Is Renters Insurance?
If you rent or lease your home or apartment, renters insurance helps protect you and your belongings from multiple unfortunate scenarios and types of damages. It can come in handy when something happens to your personal property, someone gets hurt in your rented home, or you're temporarily unable to stay in your rental because it's damaged or undergoing repairs.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Renters insurance policies generally include three distinct categories of coverage: personal property, personal liability protection, and temporary living expenses.
Remember the clothes that were ruined by the burst pipe? Renters insurance would help you afford to buy new clothes.
Renters insurance covers the cost to replace your damaged or stolen belongings up to your coverage limit. That means your renters policy could help pay to repair or replace things like jewelry*, furniture, clothes, appliances, and electronics if they're damaged in a covered incident.
*To include rare or expensive items in your coverage, you may need to add a specific provision in your policy. Check with your renters insurance company.
Many renters policies cover personal property damage caused by the following events:
- Weather, like lightning, fire, smoke, hail, wind, and volcanic eruptions
- Riots, explosions, and vandalism)
- Airplane and vehicle collisions with your home
- Falling objects
- The weight of snow, ice, or sleet
- Water-heating appliances
- Leaking pipes
- Freezing plumbing
- Short circuits from electrical appliances
Renters insurance could also cover damage you might cause to others' personal property. For example, if your washer leaks into your neighbor's apartment and ruins his TV, your renters policy might help pay for your neighbor's expenses.
On the flip side, renters insurance typically does not cover damages caused by:
- Certain natural disasters, like flooding, earthquakes, and sinkholes
- Pests, like termites, cockroaches, and mice
- Nuclear warfare
Personal Liability Protection
If someone gets hurt in your home, renters insurance could help pay their medical bills and cover the cost of defending a lawsuit filed against you. Likewise, if a guest causes damage to your home or a neighbor's property, renters insurance might help cover this, too.
Here are some typical liability situations where renters insurance might cover you:
- Someone slips and falls in your home.
- Your pet bites someone and sends them to the ER*.
- A burglar breaks into your home and steals some personal items.
*Be sure to check with your agent or carrier because some renters policies will exclude animal liability.
Whether or not your landlord is responsible for these incidents depends on your lease, the circumstances of the incident, the location of the incident, and who is at fault.
Temporary Living Expenses
Renters insurance could also cover your temporary living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable due to a storm, fire, or other damage.
While you're away, renters insurance could help with:
- Hotel, motel, or Airbnb bills.
- The cost of food that exceeds your regular grocery bill.
- Extra gas you need to commute from your new location.
What Other Factors Influence Renters Coverage?
Other factors can influence your renters coverage and cost, including the type of compensation you select, your deductible amount, and your landlord's insurance.
Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Coverage
Actual cash value and replacement cost coverage refer to the way your insurance plan will compensate you for damages to your personal property.
If you choose a policy that compensates you for the actual cash value of your lost items, you'll get the current market value of your personal property (accounting for its depreciation).
If you choose a policy that compensates you for the replacement cost of your lost items, you'll get the amount it would cost to replace your property at today’s retail prices. Policies with replacement cost coverage almost always cost more because they don't account for depreciation. Talk through your options with your agent or renters insurance company.
Before you get any insurance payout, you'll have to pay a deductible. Renters insurance policies have deductibles, just like auto and health insurance policies.
Higher deductibles generally mean lower premiums, but higher out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim. Lower deductibles generally mean higher premiums, but lower out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim.
Your landlord will usually have insurance coverage for his liability and damage to the building where you are renting, whether it's a house or apartment complex. This coverage will not extend to your personal belongings, but may include any contents that belong to the landlord. That might include appliances, light fixtures, and heating/cooling systems.
Renters insurance could give you peace of mind that you and your property are protected from certain incidents not covered by your landlord. Visit a Direct Auto Insurance location near you for a free, no-obligation renters insurance* quote.
*Renters and homeowners insurance are produced by Direct Auto Insurance agents and written by one or more insurance carriers not affiliated with the Direct General Group. Availability, qualifications, and amounts of coverages may vary. Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Not available in all states.