Your television may be one of the most-used items in your home, and your quality of life could seriously take a hit if something happened to it. Luckily, renters insurance provides renters with protection for all of their personal property, including their TVs.
But that coverage only applies in certain circumstances, and the amount of coverage is determined by limits set in your policy. Is your busted TV covered?
Renters insurance provides financial reimbursement for your personal belongings if they are stolen or destroyed in a covered event, or peril. Your renters insurance policy will list the covered events for your policy, but they generally include fire, explosions, and theft. Read more about commonly covered renters insurance perils.
Renters insurance provides coverage for items inside and outside your home, though coverage limits are lower when your property is outside your home. So if your TV is stolen out of your car, for example, it would be covered, but only up to your policy’s limits for items outside the home.
Renters insurance covers damage to your TV in a lot of situations, but there are some scenarios in which you’re on your own. Damage to your personal property from earthquakes isn’t covered, and damage from flooding isn’t covered either (though if the water damage is from a burst pipe, that would be covered).
Accidental damage and misuse are not covered perils, so things like dropping your TV during a move, knocking into it and tipping it over, or your toddler throwing a game controller at it — none of those would be covered. Your TV also won’t be covered by your renters insurance policy if it just stops working one day, or goes on the fritz.
Rule of thumb: If the damage came from one of the perils listed in the policy, it’s covered. If it didn’t, your renters insurance won’t be replacing your TV.
If your TV is destroyed or damaged in a covered event, you’ll be able to make a claim to your renters insurance company in order to get reimbursed. How much you get reimbursed, however, is dependent on the terms of your policy, specifically:
Your policy’s category limits — Most policies include category limits for electronics, jewelry, sports equipment, and other types of property. So even if your total coverage is $25,000, you may have a category limit of $2,000 for electronics.
Your deductible — The deductible is the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket in order for your insurance benefits to kick in.
Whether your plan is actual cash value or replacement cost value: Most renters insurance plans are replacement cost value, meaning that you’ll get enough to re-buy the item. But if you have a renters policy that is actual cash value, you’ll get the item’s value minus its depreciation, which can be substantially lower.
If you have a massive and expensive television, it may be worth more than the electronics category limit on your insurance policy. Or maybe your TV is worth less than that, but all of your electronics together — including your stereo and laptop — are above the limit. Is there any way to still get reimbursed?
If you plan ahead, there is. You can purchase something called a rider, which is an addendum to your insurance policy. Depending on your insurance company, you may be able to add a rider to increase the category limit for electronics, or you could add a rider that schedules, or endorses, a specific item (in this case, your TV). You’ll pay a slightly higher premium, but your TV’s full value would be covered.
Riders are purchased after your renter’s insurance policy is already in force, or active, not when you’re applying for coverage.
Logan Sachon is the co-founder of The Billfold, a groundbreaking personal finance site for millennials that was named one of Time's 25 Best Blogs of 2012. Her work has been published in New York Magazine, Glamour, The Guardian, BuzzFeed and more.