Renters insurance covers the loss of personal items and provides liability protection. Landlords do not typically carry policies that protect their renters or their renters' property. Without renters insurance, you could be liable if someone is hurt in your home and you would have to come up with the money to replace your personal property if natural disaster strikes. Most major insurers offer renter's policies. The average cost is about $12 a month for $100,000 liability and $30,000 personal property coverage.
What Is Covered
Renters insurance gives you protection against certain types of damages and natural disasters. Your policy will specifically state what "perils" you and your personal property are protected from. Common protections include hail damage, theft, electrical wiring damage, fires, vandalism and lightning. In most states, protection from flood or water damage requires a separate policy or additional coverage. What this means is that if someone breaks into your apartment and steals your property, your renters policy will pay to replace it. If your apartment floods and water damages your furniture, the basic policy may not cover you.
Damage from fires, strong thunderstorms and tornadoes could force you out of your home until the landlord makes repairs. Renters insurance can help you cover the costs of living in a hotel and eating out. This type of coverage may not be standard. You may need to request that your policy cover temporary relocation costs. If your renters policy does cover these types of costs, you will usually receive reimbursement up to a percentage of the policy's total value. For example, 50% coverage on a policy worth $50,000 would be $25,000.
The liability portion of a renters policy protects you if someone decides to sue you for damages. A lawsuit is possible if a guest is injured in an accident in your home. A person could decide to sue if he slips and falls on the sidewalk or driveway outside your home. Renters insurance will help cover medical costs for someone who has an accident as long as he or she does not live with you. Liability coverage limits are separate from personal property limits.
Your landlord's insurance will usually only cover damage to the building's outside structure. Property inside of the building that does not belong to the landlord is not protected. A renters policy ensures you can repair or replace furniture, clothes, jewelry, books, computers and other valuables. Because natural disasters, mechanical malfunctions and accidental damages are unpredictable, renters insurance makes you less vulnerable. Limits vary for personal property coverage. You'll want to pick a coverage amount you are comfortable with. You also can choose to pay more to have insurance cover the full replacement value instead of the depreciated value of your possessions.
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