Renter’s Insurance – What is it and why is it so important?
As of 2017 there were an estimated 2,594,967 households renting in the state of Florida. As of 2019 33.75% of households were renters according to Census ACS data. Given the population increase and influx of new residents to the state, those numbers have likely increased significantly as of 2022. Rents around the country in general and in the state of Florida have increased dramatically over the past year with some increases as high as 24% year over year. High rents and high demand often leave many renters with little cash to spare in the event of an unexpected disaster or accident involving their personal items. This is where renter’s insurance becomes vital to recovering from an unexpected event that, simply put, is normally out of a renter’s control. If like millions of households in Florida you are a renter, lets take a look at what it is and why its so important to have it.
What is renter’s insurance?
In short, renter’s insurance is coverage that you as a renter can obtain to cover losses sustained while renting a house, apartment, condo or other dwelling that you do not own. It helps cover unexpected events – otherwise known as covered perils. You may not always be able to prevent certain situations, such as theft, a break-in or a visitor’s injury, and that’s where renter’s insurance comes in. If your rented home and possessions are damaged by water or fire, for instance, and you’re unable to live in that’s where renter’s insurance may help with both housing expenses and lost property costs.
Depending on the provider and level of coverage, your renter’s insurance may cover the following:
- Personal Property – Personal property coverage, a standard component of renters insurance, may help cover the cost of replacing your stuff such as clothing, furniture and electronics if it’s unexpectedly damaged or destroyed. This protection generally applies to certain risks (also referred to as “perils”), such as fire, according to the Insurance Information Institute. For example, if your furniture and clothing are destroyed by a fire, this coverage may help you pay for the cost of replacing them
- Liability – Coverage if you accidentally damage someone else’s property or a guest’s medical bills if you’re found responsible for their injuries. This coverage may help protect you from paying out of pocket for certain costs if you are found legally responsible for injuries to other people or damage to their property. You probably don’t expect an accident to occur. But, if your child throws a ball through a neighbor’s window or you’re held responsible for medical bills after a guest trips and falls in your rented home or apartment, for example, liability coverage may help cover the costs.
- Additional Living Expenses – If you’re renting a house or apartment, you typically have a place to call home until your lease expires. But what if your rented home is damaged by fire, for instance, and you’re unable to live in it? That’s where renter’s insurance may help. Renter’s insurance usually includes coverage for additional living expenses. This coverage helps pay for additional costs you incur because you are unable to live in the home you’re renting after a covered loss. Covered costs may include hotel bills or additional food expenditures that are above the amount you would typically spend
- Some important details to be aware of:
- Personal property coverage may not help protect everything you own. Certain types of belongings, such as jewelry or a coin collection, have limited coverage under a standard renters insurance policy. Before renter’s insurance helps pay for a covered loss, you’ll likely need to pay a deductible. You’ll want to set coverage limits that are appropriate for your situation. Creating an inventory of the belongings you store in your apartment or home may help you assess the value of your things so you can decide how much personal property coverage is right for you. The amount of your deductible is often tied to your policy’s premium (the amount you pay your insurance company to keep your policy in force). You’ll typically find that the lower your premium, the more your deductible may be for each covered loss. Your deductible and premium are listed in your policy and can usually be adjusted based on your budget and needs. Under liability coverage, like other coverages, limits apply to the amount your insurance policy pays out after a covered loss. Read your policy to understand how much coverage it provides and make sure it fits your needs and expectations.
Why is renter’s insurance so important?
Think of everything you own. The value of your belongings can quickly add up. How much would it take to replace them if they were damaged or destroyed? Do you currently have the funds to replace them? Sadly, for many renters the answer is no. If you purchased a new car or house, would you forego insurance on them and take a chance that if they were damaged or destroyed you could lose them with no means of replacement? If you are a renter, the same reasoning should apply with respect to all your other personal items.
Many renters are under the false impression that if their belongings get destroyed, the landlord’s insurance policy will cover them. This is simply not the case. A landlord’s property insurance coverage will protect the landlord’s property but almost exclusively it can not and will not cover the personal items belonging to a renter. A renter may also feel that regardless of coverage, a landlord should pay for their losses. Again, this is not the case. A landlord expects that a renter has their own means to replace their belongings in the event of a loss or a suitable policy in place to handle replacement. This brings us to the next reason that renter’s insurance is important – it may be mandatory. Although not required, almost all leases address a tenant’s personal property and/or renter’s insurance. In some leases, insurance may only be strongly recommended. This allows the landlord to leave the personal decision of obtaining insurance up to the renter as they are in the best position to evaluate their own insurance needs. In other leases, renter’s insurance is mandatory. This means that as a condition of rental, the renter must obtain their own renter’s insurance and show proof of insurance to their landlord.
A few caveats on renter’s insurance:
- Standard renters’ insurance usually does not cover all natural disasters. Typical exceptions include earthquakes and floods
- Accidents are normally covered, such as if you unintentionally break a window; start a fire that causes smoke damage to the curtains; or overload the washing machine, resulting in leaking water and floor damage. On the other hand, you can’t intentionally start a small fire in your home and expect your renters’ insurance company to replace your damaged belongings.
- Extended optional theft coverage is often available that will protect your belongings that aren’t in your home–for example, if a covered item, such as your phone, is stolen from your car.
- Personal liability coverage doesn’t include accidents that happen to a guest while in your car, but it may extend to accidents outside of your home, such as in your backyard.
- Insurance companies commonly write into their policies that it will only cover the expenses of an attorney of their choice. The attorneys appointed by insurance companies are generally experienced litigators and do work in favor of their assigned clients.
- We are not insurance agents and do not endorse any specific provider so when buying renters insurance, make sure you consult a reputable agent and select limits that will cover you in the event of a total loss. This will ensure you’ll be reimbursed in full in the unfortunate event that a fire, accident or other peril destroys your belongings. Allstate estimates that, for a standard two-room apartment, the value of the average renter’s personal property in the U.S. is approximately $30,000, so again, it’s important to make a home inventory and understand the value of what you own.
- Hopefully as a renter you will never experience an unexpected loss but if you do, it can be traumatic and stressful. Now that you know about renter’s insurance, get a good renter’s policy in place based on your specific needs and you will almost certainly be glad you did.