What is renters insurance?

Renters insurance covers those who are renting a property rather than owning a home. Renters insurance will cover any rental property, from condos to duplexes. Typical landlord insurance will only cover the structure of a building, and tenants need to purchase renters insurance policies in order to protect their personal belongings, pets, and more. Start comparing renters insurance quotes for free with our ZIP code search below.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 6, 2020

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If you do not own your home, you probably do not have to insure the dwelling and other structures, but you still need insurance for your own property. There is a special type of home insurance available for renters, designed to protect the things that are important to you without the added expense of insuring things that are not your concern.

Landlord Insurance Coverage

In a rental property, the landlord is considered responsible for all permanent structures as well as the dwelling itself. A landlord policy does not cover damages or injuries related to a tenant’s property, nor does it provide for replacement of tenant property except where that property was lost or damaged as a result of the insured structures or liabilities.

HO-4 is Renters Insurance

The renters insurance policy is a special type of homeowners insurance, called the HO-4 policy. This type of policy includes personal property coverage and liability damage and injury protection. All property covered by a landlord policy is excluded from a renters policy. It is meant to insure a person or family’s possessions and financial stability, regardless of the liabilities of the building owner.

Named Perils

Named perils differ from policy to policy, but typically include as many as 17 different potential risks. The likelihood of each risk will affect the cost of insurance in the region, and may affect what perils are included in the standard policy. Here is a partial list of perils that are covered by most policies:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil disturbance
  • Vehicles, including aircraft
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Theft
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water
  • Freezing

Note, flood insurance for renters must be purchased separately.

Replacement or Cash Value

Renters insurance can be purchased for cash value or replacement cost coverage. Replacement cost will cost a little more on the premiums but will replace your lost property regardless of the current price. Cash value coverage will only pay out the depreciated value of your property, which is typically a percentage of the actual cost to replace lost items.

Renters Insurance and Pets

If you have pets, renters insurance is a good idea. Listing your pets on your renters policy will provide protection if a liability situation, whether it is damage or injury related, arises as a result of your pets. Even an aquarium could burst and cause damage to your property and the building, so the need for insurance is not limited to dogs or cats.

Cheaper Renters Insurance

You can save money on renters insurance, as with other home policies, by taking advantage of discounts offered by the insurance company. Discounts may be related to the location of the home, security devices installed on the property, or related to your personal information. There are over a dozen discounts available, but not all discounts will be available from every company.

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