Sometimes a basic renters insurance policy just won’t cut it — learn how adding one or more riders to your policy can personalize your coverage, protecting more of your stuff in more situations.
Renters insurance riders, renters insurance endorsements, renters insurance floaters — what a mouthful! The good news is that even though the terms may be unwieldy, they are all referring to same thing: additional renters insurance coverage to protect you and your stuff in case things go wrong.
The addition of a renters insurance rider (or two or three) can give you a bump in coverage and ensure that all of your property is protected. Plus, in addition to upping your coverage limits, riders can protect you for events that aren’t covered by basic insurance policies, like earthquakes, damage from pets, or identity theft.
Do you need to purchase renters insurance riders? Read on to find out:
A basic renters insurance policy is designed to offer ample coverage for most people, but one size never fits all.
There are two big reasons to consider adding riders to your renters insurance policy:
You want to be covered in a certain scenario not included in your policy. There are many perils that renters insurance doesn't cover: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes. Riders are available to protect you from some of them.
The value of your belongings exceeds the category coverage limits of your basic policy. Maybe you have a $5,000 laptop (made of … gold?) but your policy only covers electronics up to $2,000. You can buy a rider to cover the laptop.
Other property worth considering getting a rider for: your inherited ruby cocktail ring, your immaculate vintage guitar collection, the Hasselback you use for your wedding photography side gig, and so much more. If replacing a prized item will cost more than basic coverage will pay out, it’s a good idea to look into riders.
And definitely double check your dollar amounts — most people undervalue their stuff!
There are several common types of renters insurance riders that you should know about (and remember, these are all also called renters insurance endorsements or renters insurance floaters). Not all insurance companies offer all riders, so talk to your insurance agent about what coverage you need, and where you can find it.
Looking for a rider that we haven’t listed? Check your policy, it might already be covered! (For example: there’s not a separate rider for your trusty fixie — your basic renters insurance policy has got you and your two wheels covered in case of theft.)
Here are some types of renters insurance riders/endorsements/floaters to know:
Scheduled property riders up the coverage limits for specific items that are not fully covered under basic renters insurance plans. Most plans have dollar limits on categories like jewelry, electronics, and clothes, so if you want more coverage for a suped-up MacBook, a diamond stud, or your collection of Yeezys, you can schedule it with a scheduled property rider, which means calling it out for special coverage.
If you make more than $2,000 a year from an at-home business, your basic renters insurance may not cover the equipment you use for that business (like: your turntable if you’re a DJ, your laptop if you’re a writer, your solid gold knitting needles if you’re a bespoke sweater artisan). An at-home business rider may cover that equipment, so be sure to talk to your insurance company (for some at-home businesses, it might even make sense to purchase a separate commercial or business insurance policy — just ask).
There there are two kinds of renters insurance policies that you can buy — replacement cost policies, which cost more but pay out more in the event of a claim, and actual cash value policies, which cost less, but also pay out less in the event of a claim. If you have an actual cash value policy, you can get a replacement cost rider for a specific item, so you pay a little more up front, but get enough money back to replace the item in the event of a claim.
If you have a pet, a pet damage rider is probably a really good idea. Check with your insurance company, but most basic renters insurance policies don’t cover damage or liability associated with your pet. A pet damage rider can give you extra coverage, but even that coverage might come with limitations related to breed and deductibles. Talk to your insurance agent to learn about your pet damage coverage and pet damage riders. (And one more note about pets: the insurance industry does not consider your pet to be your personal property — pets are people, too! — so renters insurance doesn’t cover, er, damage that happens to your pet. If you want protection in case something happens to Cat the cat or Dog the dog, you need pet insurance, which we also know a thing or two about.)
The FTC reports that nearly 10 million Americans are affected by identity theft each year (!), but luckily, you can add protection onto your renters insurance policy in the form of an identity theft coverage rider. An identity theft coverage rider, also know as an identity fraud coverage rider, provides cash to help you resolve identity theft problems and hooks you up with expert assistance in handling the theft. (If you want more coverage, standalone identity theft policies are available, too.)
An earthquake rider or endorsement will cover damage to your personal property that occurs during an earthquake (like, say, your brand-new 4K TV is flung off the wall). If you live in an especially earthquake-prone area, an additional earthquake insurance policy might make sense for you.
Because riders are added onto existing renters insurance policies, the first thing you have to do is buy renters insurance coverage.
After you’ve purchased your basic policy (or, for some insurance companies, at the time of the initial purchase), you can add riders. Most renters insurance companies allow you to add additional coverage through renters insurance riders at any time. Many riders for big ticket items, like electronics, will require that you have receipts (like, actually receipts or even just photos), while some items like jewelry will even require a certificate of appraisal. Again, check with your renters insurance company to see what’s required.
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.