Renters insurance covers your personal property from damage, your personal liability if you cause damage or injury to another person, and additional living expenses if your home becomes unsafe to live in and you need to temporarily stay elsewhere.
Now, personal property means just that — your own personal belongings. If you use your personal laptop occasionally for work, then your renters insurance will cover it up to your policy’s sublimit if it’s stolen or damaged. However, if the laptop that is stolen or damaged is owned by your company, then your employer might pay to fix or replace the laptop or they might expect you to.
Renters insurance will have sublimits (also called “limits of liability”) for certain personal belongings, and this includes technology and electronics. Your laptop is considered your personal property, but your renters policy will probably have a limit for how much it will pay out for a covered loss of a laptop — usually around $1,500 to $2,500 for all electronics. That said, you can add extra coverage to your policy to extend coverage.
Renters insurance coverage limits
When you purchase a renters insurance policy, you choose how much personal property coverage, personal liability coverage, and loss-of-use coverage you need.
Certain types of personal property will have sublimits (also known as “limits of liability”), which is the maximum amount of money your insurance company will pay you for a covered loss. For example, if your laptop gets stolen and your electronics sublimit is $2,500, you will only get paid out a maximum of $2,500. This means it does not matter if you have $30,000 worth of personal property coverage, if your electronics sublimit is $2,500 then you will not be reimbursed anything greater than that sublimit.
Renters insurance also has sublimits for personal property that you use exclusively for business, so if you own a laptop that is primarily used for work, you should check with your insurance company to determine what your business property sublimit is.
How much you get paid out for a covered loss will also depend on if you have an actual cash value policy or a replacement cost value policy. A replacement cost policy generally results in higher premiums, but it pays out more.
When does renters insurance cover your work laptop?
If you use your laptop for occasional work, like say an occasional freelance project, then your policy's electronics sublimit still applies. Renters insurance protects your personal property from a variety of different threats.
Fire and lighting
Short-circuit damage by electrical appliances
Leakage or overflow of water or steam
Renters insurance covers your personal property when it is both on or off your rental premises, so if your laptop is destroyed or stolen while you’re travelling, or while you have it stored in a locker at the gym, then your renters insurance policy will still cover the loss (up to your policy’s sublimit). However, you must own the laptop in order for it to be considered personal property, meaning the laptop is owned by you or your own business, not a separate entity.
How to add coverage for your work laptop
If you want to add additional coverage for a work laptop that you own so that it's protection extends past your policy’s sublimit, you can add endorsements to your policy. Endorsements extend coverage for certain personal property or perils.
If you want extra coverage to fully insure your work laptop, there are two endorsements you should consider adding to your policy.
Scheduled property endorsement: Scheduled property endorsement up the coverage limits for specific belongings. Meaning you can schedule a property endorsement for your work laptop to ensure that it is fully protected from a covered loss.
At-home business endorsement: If you make more than $2,000 a year from an at-home business, then your basic renters insurance policy will not cover the property used for that business. You should talk to your insurance company about adding an at-home business endorsement to your policy so that your work equipment is covered.
Does renters insurance cover work laptops owned by your employer?
If your employer owns your work laptop and you damage it, whether or not they will pay to fix or replace the laptop really depends on company policy. Some companies might take the repair expenses out of your salary, where others might just give you a new laptop to use for work. However, if you damage your work laptop and your employer finds that you’re liable for the damage, then you might be stuck paying out of pocket for the repairs.
That said, you may be able to file a renters insurance liability claim to pay for your work laptop. Your liability coverage protects you from financial liability if you cause damage to someone else’s property. However, there are limits of liability when it comes to this coverage, and your work laptop might exceed your policy’s limit, meaning it might not be fully covered.
Liability coverage also has exclusions, and some insurers will consider “damage from business pursuit” to be an excluded event. You should check with your insurance company before filing a claim on an employer-owned laptop that you damaged or destroyed.
Working from home
If you use other equipment to work from home — tablets, monitors, keyboard, mouse, headsets — they will all be covered in the same fashion as your work laptop. Meaning, you will need to add endorsements to your policy if you own the equipment and it’s used for an at-home business. This sort of equipment will also fall under the same electronics sublimit that your work laptop does, so you might want to schedule additional endorsements for expensive belongings.
If your employer owns this equipment, coverage is, again, the same as your employer-owned work laptop.