Apartment Living

9 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Renters Insurance

Sign a renters insurance

Renters insurance is something that many tenants blindly go without, and only in hindsight realize how important it is. While many landlords ask for tenants to have some form of protection, it’s not illegal to go without it. Even if it’s not a requirement for your lease, don’t think saving the few bucks a month will be worth it — as there are so many reasons why you need a good renters insurance right now. You’ll be surprised just how much is covered and what you can claim. Here are just a few questions you may have while looking for coverage that you may be too embarrassed to ask:

1. What Kind of Things Does My Renters Insurance Cover?

While you may think the coverage is only for reimbursements after theft or fire, most policies cover liability on your part if someone hurts themselves within your home. So, if your friend or a family member falls and breaks their arm in your kitchen, they will be able to file a claim with your insurance company. If you have to live away from your rental due to repairs of fire, smoke or water damage, your insurance can cover the cost of accommodations as well. Like with any protection, reading the fine print of coverage is essential. Many plans on the market will also replace or reimburse the cost of stolen or damaged personal items while you’re on vacation, or within your car and your storage locker as it’s considered insured property.

2. What Types of Events Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Depending on the type of policy, renters insurance will generally cover your rental apartment when the following events occur:

  • Fire and lightning
  • Windstorm and hail
  • Explosions
  • Riots
  • Damage by aircraft
  • Damage by vehicle (not your own)
  • Smoke damage
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Falling objects
  • The weight of snow, ice, sleet
  • Damage from steam-heating/water-heating appliances/systems
  • Leakage or overflow of water or steam
  • Freezing of plumbing, heating, air conditioning
  • Short-circuit damage caused by electrical appliances

After you pay your pre-determined deductible (the amount of money you spend on damages out of pocket), your insurance coverage will kick in and cover the rest of the cost. The higher the premium, the lower the deductible tends to be.

3. What Does ‘Peril’ Mean?

This word will pop up a lot within your renters insurance research. Perils are a specific risk or cause of loss. But not all policies cover the same perils. There are “named-perils” policies, such as ones that are listed above that are commonly found in basic renters insurance plans, or there are “open-peril” policies that will cover you for any event excluding ones that are named. This is important for areas that may experience more natural disasters than others. Reading which perils are listed within your insurance policy is crucial information that you must not skip over.

4. How Can I Figure Out How Much My Stuff Is Worth?

Because renters insurance covers the products within your home, you need to have a good idea of how much all of your possessions are worth. There are home inventory apps and sites that will help you log, price and track all of your items, or you can create a spreadsheet with this information. This is an important step to do early on as it will dictate how much insurance you need to buy. Having this data on hand is also helpful if you need to file a claim. Remember to save receipts for big-ticket items, log serial numbers and take photos of all of the possessions you would, in theory, want to claim. Not having a proper inventory report can hurt you in the long run.

5. Does My Insurance Cover My Roommate?

While some providers will allow you to add someone who is not related to you onto your plan, it’s recommended you purchase a separate insurance policy. For one, whatever claim that is made by either party will go onto your insurance record and could hurt you down the road. The amount of coverage is another thing to consider, as it will not change when bringing them into your plan. The money you’re saving is not worth it!

6. What About Pets?

Renters Insurance for pet owners

If you have a pet, you should purchase renters insurance. While nobody expects their dog to bite anyone, it can happen. If you’re insured, you’re covered (amount varies) for medical payments, legal fees and any settlement, up to coverage limits. If your pet ruins your couch, you’re not covered, but if they destroy a friend’s couch, coverage may come into play. When you’re searching to find the best renters insurance, be open about your needs and don’t expect any dog will be covered, as there are some that are generally uninsurable. The breeds that are typically blacklisted include: Pitbull terriers, Staffordshire terriers, Rottweilers, German shepherds, Presa Canarios, Chows chows, Doberman pinschers, Akitas, Wolf-hybrids, Mastiffs, Cane Corso, Great Danes, Alaskan Malamutes, and Siberian Huskies.

7. Does My Insurance Cover a Bedbug Infestation?

Simply put, no it is not covered. While many renters have dealt with this pesky issue in their lives, unfortunately, you will not be able to file a claim to exterminate bed bugs or reimburse you for damages caused by the insects. Even if it comes from another apartment, you cannot expect your landlord or the other tenants to cover the costs. When it comes to doctor’s appointments, medications or other treatments, they will not be covered for you or others.

8. Who Covers Damages If I Live In A Flood Zone Area?

Here’s a scenario. You live in New Orleans, a city that experienced a flood, and your basement is ruined by water damage. While loss that happens due to leakage is within your plan, naturally occurring water damage is not covered by your renters insurance. In this case, you should buy flood insurance coverage that provides you with the peace of mind you need. Comparing renters insurance companies in your area will give you a good sense of how other tenants deal with this type of situation, especially if you are in an area where the National Flood Insurance Program is encouraged.

9. Why Do People Look For Insurance Ratings and Reviews?

It’s important to know who you’re getting coverage from, and what others have experienced with the same type of plan. Insurance reviews and ratings are an essential step that many skip over, but you have to remember that like other types of companies, not all are created equal. If they don’t have a strong reputation for handling claims, wouldn’t you want to know that? An insurance review service offers consumer insurance ratings of companies in your region and reviews by real-life policyholders like you. Getting an insider view of how the providers handle their customers’ needs and claims is essential, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure that your insurance provider will treat you well when you need it most!

We leave the 10th question for any other inquiry you might have on renters insurance. Feel free to leave your question in the comments section.

About the author

Nicky Iudean

Nicky is an Online Communications Specialist for RENTCafé.com, where she researches and writes about real estate, interior design, and all things that spark renters’ interests. She is also your go-to person for content collaborations. Nicky double majored in Marketing and Applied Economics and holds a master's degree in Marketing Strategies and Policies. You can reach her via email at nicky.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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