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Colin LalleyContent Director, Home & Auto InsuranceColin Lalley is the content director for home and auto insurance at Policygenius, where he's been writing about insurance since 2015. His insights have been featured in Inc. Magazine, Betterment, Chime, Credit Seasame, Zola, and the Council for Disability Awareness.

Updated

What is renters insurance?

Renters insurance is a policy that protects the items you keep in your apartment or home. In the event your belongings are damaged or lost due to theft, fire, water damage or other disasters, renters insurance will pay to replace them. In the event your apartment becomes uninhabitable, renters insurance will also cover the cost of temporary housing while your rental gets repaired.

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How much does renters insurance cost?

First, the good news! Renters insurance costs far less than most expect. Dollar-for-dollar it’s one of the cheapest forms of financial coverage you can buy. Renters insurance rates vary by state and city. Generally the cost of renters insurance will be determined primarily by two things:

  • Your location

  • Your coverage amount

The more stuff you have to protect, the more more your premiums will cost. Monthly payments on a $20,000 policy will be cheaper than a $50,000 policy. Most renters buying apartment insurance can expect to pay $20 or less per month for renters insurance.

→Read more about how much renters insurance costs

What does renters insurance cover?

Renters insurance covers all the furniture, electronics, clothes, jewelry, etc in your apartment—everything that’s not bolted down. In fact, it even covers your goods while they’re not physically in your house—meaning if your laptop gets stolen on vacation or damaged falling out of a backpack, renters insurance will pay to replace it.

Most renters insurance will also cover “loss of use,” or the costs you’ll incur living elsewhere while your apartment or house gets repaired after a disaster. Finally, renters insurance covers liability, or legal costs, in the event you get sued if a visitor gets hurt at your apartment.

What doesn't renters insurance cover?

While renters insurance protects against most types of theft, accident and damage, there are several things it won’t cover. Renters insurance won’t protect against:

  • Flood

  • Earthquake

  • Accidental loss by owner

  • Damage by owner’s pet

  • Rare or extra-valuable items such as art (You’ll need a rider for these, detailed below)

  • Damage to the building itself (The owner’s insurance covers that)

→Read more about what renters insurance covers

How to buy renters insurance

You can buy renters insurance instantly online. It doesn’t require a lengthy approval process like some other forms of insurance. But before you start getting quotes, the first step to buying renters insurance is determining what it would cost to replace everything you own. Here’s what buying renters insurance should involve:

  1. Get quotes from top renters insurance companies in your area

  2. Request riders for any extra coverage needed, like super-expensive jewelry or art

  3. Compare rates. Not all renters insurance is created equal

  4. Buy your policy. In most cases you can do this online.

Once your policy is in effect, there are a couple things you should do to keep your stuff protected:

  • Keep a copy of your policy outside your home, whether it’s in email or another location

  • Keep records of the new things you buy. They’ll be covered in your policy, but you should have an up-to-date inventory of all your stuff, just in case.

If the time ever comes to file a claim, a detailed inventory and a copy of your renters insurance policy will be your best friends. Keep them someplace where you can always reach them.

→ Learn more about buying renters insurance

Is renters insurance worth it?

According to a 2014 study just over a third of renters have renters insurance, and yet most Americans couldn’t cover a $400 emergency if the situation arose. This leaves renters vulnerable, since most would be unable to handle the cost of replacing all their possessions if they were destroyed in a disaster—or simply a stolen laptop, for that matter.

Renters insurance costs less than a single meal out or buying a pair of sneakers. Is it worth it, for the peace of mind of securing everything you own? For almost everyone, the answer is yes.

Frequently asked questions

What does renters insurance cover?

Renters insurance protects most of your belongings from damage or theft, whether they're in your home or not. So whether your laptop is damaged by a burst pipe in your apartment or stolen on vacation, it's covered either way. It's possible to add additional coverage for an accidental loss.

What doesn't renters insurance cover?

Renters insurance does not cover damage caused by earthquakes or flood. (Though it does cover other types of water damage). You'll need to buy a separate policies to cover earthquake or flood damage.

How much does renters insurance cost?

That all depends on how much stuff you have to protect, but many people can buy renters insurance for under $20 per month.

Why should I buy through Policygenius?

We'll help easily figure out the exact coverage you need so you don't overpay for it. Plus, we'll help you access discounts you didn't know are available. For free!

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