Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed May 31, 2017
As a renter, it’s great to be able to call the landlord when things need to be fixed in your home. This might be why many renters don’t think to buy renters insurance. While most homeowners purchase homeowner’s insurance to cover damage to their house, possessions, and people injured while visiting them, a much lower percentage of renters have equivalent insurance despite their similar risks. The article below explains the benefits of renters insurance as well as the obligations of your insurance company.
Am I Required to Have Renters Insurance?
Unlike car or health insurance, you are not required by law to have renters insurance. However, some landlords may only agree to rent to you if you obtain renters insurance first. Even if you’re not required to have coverage, it’s generally a good idea to purchase at least a basic policy, especially since it’s relatively cheap compared to other types of insurance. Your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance will cover damage to the building, but it won’t cover your possessions or liability, so you’ll be glad to have renters insurance if something happens.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Like other types of insurance, renters insurance will require you to pay regular premiums for certain types of coverage. You’ll also have a deductible, certain policy limits, and types of damage that are specifically excluded from coverage. For example, unlike homeowner’s insurance, renters insurance doesn’t cover the building itself – your landlord should have insurance to cover that. The three key areas of coverage in a renters insurance policy are the following:
- Premises liability: This covers you if someone’s injured on the property because of your negligence. The injured person can file a claim with your insurance company or sue you directly.
- Personal possessions: This covers your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by things like fire and certain kinds of water damage (such as a leaky pipe). This often includes possessions stolen from your car as well.
- Cost of temporary accommodations: If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered type of damage, your insurance can help pay for the cost to live elsewhere while repairs are being completed.
You can also buy additional coverage if you run a business out of your home, keep dangerous pets, or for damage caused by floods or earthquakes. Additionally, you can choose the amount of coverage you want based on the value of your belongings, the condition of your house or apartment, and the frequency with which visitors enter your home.
Cancellation and Non-Renewal of Your Renters Insurance Policy
States set rules for canceling or not renewing a given insurance policy. Typically, an insurance company can only cancel your policy if you stop paying your premiums or if you lied on your application. However, at the end of your policy term, the insurance company can choose not to renew your policy. In cases of cancellation or non-renewal, the insurance company must give you proper notice according to state law before discontinuing your coverage.
Other Obligations of the Insurance Company
Each state regulates its insurance industry differently, but generally speaking, your renters insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. This means you both have certain rights and responsibilities depending on the terms you’ve chosen. In exchange for paying your premiums and filing claims on time, the insurance company agrees to pay legitimate claims up to the policy limit after you’ve paid any applicable deductibles. Under your liability coverage, if someone sues you, your insurance company must provide your legal defense and pay for covered damages, subject to the limits of your policy.
If your claim is denied, you can first appeal to the insurance company to have them reconsider their decision. But if that doesn’t work and you believe your insurance company has failed in its obligations to you, you may have grounds for a breach of contract or bad faith lawsuit against them. You can also request assistance from the applicable insurance oversight organization in your state.
Get Help with Your Renters Insurance
Of course, everyone hopes to avoid the need to use their renters insurance. But you never know when a fire will destroy your furniture, or a thief will steal your electronics. And hopefully you won’t have to deal with a denied claim or a cancelled policy. However, if you are having issues with your renters insurance, contact a local insurance attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies and protecting the interests of renters like you.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.