Renters insurance will reimburse you for your personal property if it is lost, damaged, or stolen in a covered peril. Renters policies also include personal liability coverage, which will cover things like medical expenses if someone gets hurt on your property. Your policy will also consist of loss-of-use coverage, so if your dwelling becomes uninhabitable your renters insurance policy will pay for you to stay elsewhere.
Personal property coverage includes items like your furniture, clothing, TVs, collectibles, jewelry and other belongings that you use daily. Your personal property will be covered up to your policy’s limit for a covered claim. Some common covered perils include fire and lightning, smoke, vandalism, leakage or overflow of water or steam, falling objects, theft and more.
This means if your apartment does get burgled, you can file a claim to be reimbursed for your belongings. But what if you had a bunch of money under your mattress — what happens if your cash is stolen from your apartment or snagged while you’re riding the subway? While most renters insurance policies do cover theft, they may not reimburse you for all of your stolen cash. Most renters insurance policies set a lower limit for how much they will reimburse you when it comes to your stolen cash. This is because cash isn’t like your other personal property or belongings that you can keep an inventory of. The amount of cash you have can ebb and flow, but your insurance policy coverage has to be a fixed amount.
When does renters insurance cover cash?
Theft is considered a covered peril, but renters insurance will only cover your cash up to your policy’s limit. All renters insurance policies have coverage limits, meaning the amount of money the provider will reimburse you for a covered claim. But most policies also have specific, lower coverage limits, called sublimits, for certain classes of property. Valuable items like jewelry, computers, and cash all have sublimits, so there’s a lesser limit amount for them. Cash has a much lower sublimit than any other type of personal property. You can check your policy to see what specific coverage sublimits it lays out.
The good news is that renters insurance will cover your belongings and cash if they are stolen either on or off your property. So if your cash gets stolen while you’re on vacation, your policy will still reimburse you for some of it.
When filing a claim for your stolen cash, you will not be required to pay a deductible like you usually would. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay when filing a claim before your coverage kicks-in.
However, if your cash gets stolen along with other items, like if your backpack with cash and your laptop in it is stolen and you file a claim on the whole loss, laptop and cash included, then you will have to pay your deductible to file a claim for the stolen items.
How much stolen cash will renters insurance cover?
Generally speaking, most renters insurance policies will only cover up to $200 in stolen cash. This includes currency from other countries. A standard HO-4 renters insurance policy will cover the following forms of currency:
Cash (dollars, euros, pounds, etc)
Gold (other than goldware)
Silver (other than silverware)
Platinum (other than platinum ware)
Stored value cards
The $200 sublimit works like this: say you have an envelope of $500 cash stolen at the airport, you still will only be reimbursed $200 for it if your insurance provider considers the theft a legitimate claim.
Why does renters insurance only cover a limited amount of stolen cash?
Renters insurance policies only cover a limited amount of stolen cash for a few reasons, namely because the amount of cash you have can change daily or even hourly. It’s also harder to obtain proof of theft when it comes to cash.
There are a few reasons cash has a separate sublimit from general personal property:
Moral hazard: Cash coverage is considered a moral hazard. This means that a claim for stolen cash leaves room for the chance of false claims. A renters insurance provider cannot guarantee that the policy is written in a way to actively discourage false claims. For example, it’d be too easy to claim that you had $10,000 in cash stolen when you didn’t. It’s too much of a risk for renters insurance providers to just take someone by their word.
Documentation: Insurance providers require documentation of your items. It’s basically impossible to document how much cash someone has on them at any given time. Unlike other personal belongings, you can’t take an inventory of cash because the amount changes too frequently. Not having documentation or proof makes it hard to file a theft claim.
How do I file a renters insurance claim for stolen cash?
If your cash is stolen, the first thing you should do is file a police report. Once you’ve notified the police, you should try to document the loss as much as possible. For example, if your apartment was broken into, you should take photos of the damage (this way you can file a claim for that damage, too). If the theft takes place in your home, you should also contact your landlord right away. Your landlord will be able to help you secure any hazardous damage like a broken window or deadbolt.
Most renters insurance providers require you submit a claim between 48 to 72 hours after the incident. You will need to fill out a claims form and send it to your insurance provider. In order to do this you should have:
Your insurance policy number, which can be found on your declarations page
Details about the theft (where you were, what time it was, any damage caused)
A police report documenting the theft
A phone number where you can be reached
Once you fill out the claims form, your renters insurance provider will assign you a claims adjustor and begin an investigation.
If your wallet is stolen, you should also call your bank and credit card companies so they can put a hold on your cards. If you want specific protection for identity theft, renters insurance has extra riders you can add to cover this peril. Identity theft coverage riders can provide you with reimbursement to help resolve any identity theft issues and connect you with experts who can advise and assist you with the situation.
Safer options than cash
Instead of carrying around a large amount of cash, you’re better off depositing it into your checking account. If your wallet is stolen and your debit card is in it, most banks have an app that you can quickly log into to lock your card.
If you need cash on you, you should keep your ATM or bank receipts in a safe location. That way you have the proof to show police and your insurance provider that you did take the cash out. Your ATM receipt will also include the location and time, which can come in handy for a police report.