If you rent a house, apartment, or a room, it's a good idea to buy renters insurance in order to cover your personal property in case it gets damaged or lost. It’s a common misconception that landlords will pay for a renters belongings if they get stolen or ruined, but that actually isn’t the case. For example, if there is smoke damage from a fire in your rental, the landlord is only liable for the building, leaving the renter responsible for damage to their own clothing, furniture, tech, and other things.
Often times landlords and property managers will actually require their tenants to purchase renters insurance, which usually means showing proof of it before you can move in.
Landlords often request you get renters insurance for a variety of reasons, but mainly to protect both themselves and you.
What does renters insurance cover?
A renters insurance policy can protect your covered personal property. If any of your belongings are damaged then your renters insurance policy is there to reimburse you. Basic renters insurance policies will cover a portion of the cost of many of your items if they get destroyed or damaged by some of the following perils :
Fire and lightning
Windstorm and hail
Damage from steam-heating/water-heating appliances/systems
Leakage or overflow of water or steam
Short-circuit damage caused by electrical appliances
Damage by vehicle (not your own)
Damage by aircraft
Weight of snow, ice, sleet
Freezing of plumbing, heating, air conditioning
If your living situation becomes uninhabitable because of one of the policy-covered reasons, renters insurance can pay for temporary housing until the rental unit is livable again. Certain renters insurance policies will cover incidentals as well. For example, if your food goes bad after your power went out and your fridge stopped working, your rental insurance policy will cover the cost of your soiled food.
Renters insurance will even cover your belongings that aren’t in your apartment or house, like if your laptop gets stolen at an airport. Depending on your policy, your rental insurance will reimburse you for lost or damaged items despite them not being in your physical home.
Renters insurance can also cover your personal liability on or off your property. Meaning if you damage someone else’s property, depending on the cost of the damage, your policy will give you a pay out for some or most of the bill. It can cover liability for your pets, so if your dog bites someone, your policy will help pay for their potentially high medical bills.
Renters insurance is one of the cheapest types of insurance you can invest in, so it ends up being a small price to pay to protect your items. You can pick how much coverage you want, with most basic renters insurance plans costing between $10 to $20 a month.
Different landlords have different required policy standards, but many of them will want to be given proof that you signed up for a renters insurance policy.
Why do I need proof of insurance?
Your proof of insurance will allow your landlord to see that you signed up for the required renters insurance coverage as outlined in your lease. Although some landlords are okay with a verbal confirmation, many want more concrete proof.
You can think about it in the same way you would your auto insurance — if you get pulled over or you’re in an accident then you have your insurance card on you to prove that you’re covered. Proof of renters insurance acts in the same fashion — it shows the landlord that their standard is met.
What is proof of insurance?
Proof of insurance is exactly what it sounds like: physical proof that you purchased and are currently maintaining a renters insurance policy. The proof of your policy will show that you have an active renters insurance policy and it will give some details of that coverage. Landlords or property managers can verify the information. Unlike auto insurance, proof of renters insurance doesn’t usually come in the form of a card. That being said, there are a few different ways to obtain it.
How to prove you have renters insurance
If it is your landlord who is requiring you to obtain proof of renters insurance then you’re probably going to have to do so at their discretion, meaning they decide how they want the proof presented. It’s important to check with your landlord and read over your lease before starting the process of proving your insurance coverage.
Here are the most common ways to prove you’re enrolled in renters insurance:
Add your landlord as an additional interested party
Some landlords might want to be added to your policy as an additional interested party, also called an interested party or party of interest. Your landlord might prefer this because as an additional interested party on the policy, they will be notified if the policy changes or is canceled.
However, by adding your landlord as an additional interested party you are not adding them to any of the policy coverage. The additional interested party will not affect your premium and they do not receive any coverage. They also can’t make any payments on your behalf. Many insurance companies will allow you to either add the additional interested party over the phone or online.
A copy of your declarations page
The declarations page of your policy contains your name, address, and relevant information about your policy, including the coverage amount and the current status of enrollment. It basically serves as an invoice of your policy purchase and contains your policy number and insurance agent name.
You can obtain a copy of this from your insurance company and show it to the necessary parties to prove that you have renters insurance. The declarations page is an easy way for landlords to quickly confirm your policy and it should count as enough proof for most landlords or property managers.
If your insurance company has the option, you may be able to download a copy of your policy that you can then email to your landlord. Not all insurance companies offer this, though. Many landlords request a physical copy of proof of insurance, so you may have to print it out and mail it to them the old fashioned way.
Contact a representative
In many cases, you can request a representative of your insurance company to contact your landlord on your behalf. The representative can then confirm the proof of coverage to your landlord or property manager either over the phone or with a signed letter.
How long does it take to get renters insurance?
Unlike other types of insurance like health or dental, there is no waiting period when it comes to renters insurance. It’s pretty easy to buy renters insurance online, but you can also do so in person.
There are some details you will need to have on hand when you go to purchase your policy, so if you have these ready before you begin the purchasing process it will speed things up. You will need to provide the following information about your residence:
Type of residence (house, condo, apartment)
Personal vs. business use
Any previous damage to the building and any previous claims filed
Some insurance companies will offer additional coverage add-ons to protect you from things like identity theft or forgery. Certain companies will also offer discounts for safety measures that you’ve already taken, such as burglar alarms and smoke detectors.
When you purchase your rental insurance policy, you get to choose the effective start date. So say if you’re moving, you can delay the policy start date until your lease begins. Which means hypothetically, you could even buy renters insurance and show proof of it to your landlord in the same day.