Renters insurance is a good option for any renter. Before you sign-up, you should know a few things about what insurance does cover, like items stolen from your car, and what it doesn’t, such as costly art.
Let’s be honest, reading the fine print of your renters insurance policy isn’t exactly fun.
After all, your insurance company doesn’t exactly hire John Green to write it, and trying to wrap your head around a bunch of legalese can be, well, exhausting.
But if you are one of the lucky ones that do read the policy, you may find that your renters insurance policy covers (and doesn’t cover) more than you originally thought.
Surprising things that are covered by renters insurance
Items stolen from your car
Many renters insurance policies include off-premises renters insurance coverage. This typically covers belongings that are outside of your home and provides the same coverage as your inside possessions. For instance, if your car is broken into and your laptop is stolen, you’ll be covered.
However, it’s important to note that your renters insurance will not protect your car against damage or theft (that’s a car insurance thing), it only covers the stuff inside the vehicle.
Items stolen while traveling
Your off-premise coverage may also cover you in the event that you are traveling and your personal possessions are stolen.
This means that if your laptop, or iPad, is stolen from your hotel room while you’re on vacation, it’s likely covered by your renters insurance. This is because the stolen item is considered “insured property” and it will be covered whether it’s in your rental or not.
To ensure that your personal belongings are covered, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance provider before you leave on your vacation. Your insurer can help you determine if the personal property that you plan is protected under your policy or better left at home.
If your home is destroyed by an insured disaster and you can no longer live there, temporary living expenses like a hotel room, rent, meals, and the costs associated with storing your stuff may be covered by your additional living expenses (ALE) coverage.
Basically, ALE (not the beer) covers all of the expenses that you wouldn’t have had to pay for if you were still able to live in your home. However, if your home is destroyed by an uninsured disaster, let’s say water damage due to a flood, then you will not receive ALE coverage.
Other people’s injuries
If someone has an accident in your home, your renters insurance can help to cover that person’s medical expenses.
For you, this means that your clumsy best friend can finally come over for a visit without the worry of becoming a liability. After all, if she trips over a rug (or let’s face it, thin air) and takes a nasty fall, your renters insurance will have your back when it comes to medical bills.
This perk alone, which is typically covered under bodily injury insurance, is a great reason to get renters insurance.
Other people’s property
Your renters insurance may also cover damage to other people’s property and prevent you from having to pay for broken items out of pocket.
Let’s say your child throws a baseball through your neighbor’s window. Your renters insurance, thanks to personal liability coverage, may help to cover some of the costs associated with repairing or replacing the damaged property.
You may be surprised to learn that many of the top renters’ insurance companies can cover anyone living under your roof that is related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption.
This means that if your mom comes to live with you for a few months, she will be automatically covered by your policy, as long as you have enough coverage!
However, if your house gets broken into and your roommate’s things are stolen, your insurance won’t cover their personal property. That is unless your roommate is also your sister.
If you go to your friend’s house and your dog destroys her beautiful new couch, your renters’ insurance will cover it.
However, if your cute little pup destroys your new couch, your rental insurance will not cover the expense of replacing it (more on this below).
Surprising things that aren’t covered by renters insurance
Most renters insurance will not cover disasters like floods and earthquakes. You may be able to purchase additional flood insurance coverage from a private provider.
Similarly, you may be able to add earthquake coverage to your policy.
If your personal property is destroyed due to a volcanic eruption, wildfire, or tornado, you are likely already covered under your renters insurance policy.
If your rental was robbed and the expensive sound system you bought five years before was stolen, you may be surprised to learn that you won’t get back enough money to fully cover the replacement cost, even though personal property coverage comes standard in most renters insurance policies.
This is because unless you have purchased replacement cost coverage, regular renters insurance will cover your personal belongings at their actual cash value (ACV).
For example, if your sound system cost you $2,500 five years ago, the insurance company might only offer you $1,000 to cover what it is worth today.
Expensive jewelry, art, or antiques
If you have expensive valuables like jewelry, art, or antiques, be aware that your renters policy might not cover these items. You may be required to purchase a “floater” policy to provide additional coverage for expensive possessions.
Most insurance policies will come with maximum limits for each type of coverage. So, let’s say you have a ring that costs $5,000, but your policy has a maximum coverage limit of $2,500 for jewelry, then it would be up to you to cover the difference.
Property damage from pests
In the unfortunate event that your personal belongings are damaged by rats, bed bugs, or other rodents, bugs, or vermin, most renters insurance policies won’t cover the damage. This is true even if your infestation is so bad that you are required to leave your rental and find temporary housing.
Some renters insurance policies may offer bed bug insurance, but it is not usually considered part of a standard renters insurance plan and would come at an additional cost.
If you rent and assume that your landlord’s insurance policy will cover you in every situation, you may want to think again.
Renters insurance is the best way to ensure that your finances aren’t set back by a clumsy friend or major damage to your rental. While it’s an additional living expense, it’s often well worth the (low) cost.