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A common misconception many people have is that the landlord is the only one responsible for insuring the place they are renting. That is true to an extent; your landlord is the one who pays for insurance and is responsible for all repairs. However, you have certain responsibilities, too: renters insurance.

Picture this: a storm hits, badly damaging all your stuff along with the apartment you live in. The insurance your landlord pays for will only cover the damage done to the building and the apartment itself. If you want insurance for all your belongings, you will have to get it yourself.

This kind of insurance is called renters’ insurance and, below, we will dive into every aspect of it. Read on to find out how it works.

Renters' Insurance Defined

Put simply, renters' insurance covers your personal belongings when you live in a rented apartment or house. It is also called an HO-4 policy or tenants' insurance.

This type of insurance is similar to homeowners’ insurance in the sense that they both cover similar scenarios such as thefts and fires. However, renters' insurance is much cheaper. It only covers your belongings and not the place you live in itself.

Do You Have to Get Renters' Insurance?

Most people want to know if they are required to get renters' insurance by law. The answer is no. No law that makes this mandatory.

However, some landlords require proof of renters' insurance before they let you sign a lease. In such cases, you will have to get it. Most of the time though, it’s entirely up to you.

Whether you should get renters' insurance coverage mostly depends on how many belongings you have. For those who only have a few things, insurance might be an unnecessary investment.

But for everyone else, this type of insurance can be a great way to protect their possessions. No matter what happens, you won’t have to pay to replace everything out of your own pocket. Additionally, the sum you will have to pay for the coverage to stay in place is quite affordable.

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What Does Renters' Insurance Coverage Include?

A standard renters' insurance policy covers all your personal items. It also covers your expenses if you need to move somewhere else while the building is under repair. Finally, it includes liability if you are ever sued for negligence.

Your Personal Items

The personal property that renters' insurance covers includes clothes, electronics, jewelry, and so on. Here is a list of sixteen specific events covered:

  • Explosion
  • Fire or lightning
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Smoke damage
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Damage due to ice or snow
  • Falling object
  • Damage due to water or steam
  • Damage due to freezing
  • Electric current accidents
  • Damage to certain household systems

A great fact about renters' insurance is that it will cover your items both inside and outside of your home. So, if someone steals your bike or phone when you are out and about, you will still get money for them. However, there will be a few limits.

Firstly, there may be a limit to how much renters insurance coverage you have outside of the home. This amount is usually between 10% and 15%. Secondly, your deductible will apply.

In most insurance companies, you will have two reimbursement options for the renters' policy of your choice:

  • Replacement cost policies
  • Cash value policies

Replacement Cost Policies

This reimbursement option pays for the actual price of replacing your damaged items. If a disaster damages your TV, you would get enough money to either buy the same or a similar one.

Replacement cost policies are a bit more expensive than cash value policies. However, if you want to ensure you’ll get brand new items if your current ones are ever damaged, it is worth it.

Cash Value Policies

These policies pay to replace your damaged property based on its current value. So, if your damaged TV is three years old, you will get enough funds to buy another TV that is that old. If you want a new one, you would have to pay the difference yourself.

Policy Add-Ons

Most insurance companies limit the amount of money they’ll pay for items of greater value (jewelry, firearms, etc.). To cover the full value of these items, you will need to pay for a policy add-on. These add-ons are called floaters or riders, and you might need professional appraisals to get them.

Your Added Living Expenses

If you have to move and live somewhere else while your home is being repaired, renters' insurance usually covers your expenses. Most policies include bills, hotel stays, meals, and other similar costs.

Liability Coverage

Renters' insurance also includes liability if someone ever sues you for negligence. It will pay for someone’s injuries or property damage sustained in the place you rent. The coverage will remain in place whether the damage or injury was your fault or not.

In addition, renters' insurance also covers any injuries people might suffer from your dog or other pets. However, certain companies exclude this from their policies, so always double-check if you own any pets.

Is There Anything That Renters' Insurance Doesn’t Cover?

Most renters' insurance policies do not include flood or earthquake damage. If you wish to get insurance for these events, you will have to get a separate policy. All insurance companies who are a part of the National Flood Insurance Program will offer such policies.

Additionally, if you have a roommate and they don’t share the policy with you, their belongings will not be covered. In such cases, the safest option is to get two separate policies.

Finally, renters' insurance will also not cover mice, bedbugs, or any similar infestations.

How Much Insurance Should You Get?

The amount of renters' insurance depends on two factors. Firstly, it depends on how many belongings you have. Secondly, it depends on the worth of your savings and other assets.

What you need to do before buying renters' insurance is take inventory of all your possessions. Then, you can calculate their worth using a renters' insurance cost calculator. It will help you get a general idea of how much insurance you need.

You also need to take liability coverage into account. It should include any vehicles or assets you own, as they are a part of your net worth. Typically, liability limits are somewhere in the $100,000 to $500,000 range.

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What Is the Cost of Renters' Insurance?

As we briefly mentioned above, even the best renters' insurance policies are rather cheap. Although the average cost of insurance varies across states, it is usually around $14 a month.

It is not hard to get cheap renters' insurance. For example, some companies offer discounts if you bundle your renters’ and auto insurance. Similarly, you can get good offers if your home already has smoke detectors or a security system.

Another way to save money is to raise your deductible. A deductible is the money that the company will subtract from your insurance check when they pay you. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium you will have to pay.

There are few things to consider when deciding on your deductible. You should ask yourself how much you can pay out of your own pocket if a disaster hits. Additionally, you need to carefully weigh whether you should file a claim for an amount that is close to the deductible.

How Can You Get Renters' Insurance?

Here are some simple steps you need to take to get renters' insurance:

  • Use the insurance calculator and figure out how much insurance you need
  • Take your time to research good insurance companies
  • Compare renters’ insurance quotes companies give you to find the best offer (renters' insurance comparison is, perhaps, the most important step)

FAQs - Renters' Insurance

Is theft included in renters' insurance coverage?

Yes, most renters' insurance policies cover theft. There is only one exception: the theft of your car. If someone steals your car, your auto insurance will cover it instead of renters’.

Are storage units also included in renters' insurance?

Typically, yes. Storage units are a part of most renters' insurance policies. Just as they cover your belongings when you are traveling, they will also cover them if you store them somewhere. However, there is a possibility that you will have less coverage when it comes to storage units. Generally, the coverage will be limited to 10% of the total value of the items.

Can renters' insurance cover mold?

Whether renters' insurance includes mold depends on the cause of the mold itself. If there is a sudden disaster that hits and leaves mold in its wake, it will be covered by renters’ insurance. But if the mold develops slowly over time without any big catastrophes causing it, renters' insurance coverage will likely not cover it.

Are broken windows covered by renters' insurance?

Again, the answer depends on the cause of the break. If, for example, a falling branch breaks your window, renters' insurance will cover it. However, insurance will not cover the damage if you break the window accidentally while playing a game of fetch with your dog. If you break someone else’s window, your liability coverage may pay out the damage.
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