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Renter's Insurance

Although a renter does not have the same liabilities as a property owner, a renter can still benefit from having a separate renter's insurance policy. This article will discuss when to consider renters' insurance, what it covers, and the obligations the insurance company has to you as a policyholder.

What Renter's Insurance Covers

It's important to know that your landlord's insurance will probably not cover your property losses unless you can specifically demonstrate that the landlord was negligent in some manner. That is why you would want your own policy.

Renters' insurance policies are similar to homeowners' insurance policies but there is no coverage for the building or the structure of your rental unit.

Renter's insurance covers the cost of replacing personal items that are stolen, damaged, or destroyed. If you have valuable items — jewelry, collectible coins, art, expensive electronics — you should mention this to your insurance agent. You may need a rider to insure these items for their replacement value.

If you work from your apartment or rented home, the equipment you use for your business may not be covered by your regular renters' insurance policy. You may need a rider to ensure that it is covered.

Some renters' policies cover liability in case someone is injured in your unit or on your rented property.

Your renters' insurance may cover occurrences outside of your rental unit. For example, it may cover theft of your property from your car.

Your policy will most likely have a deductible. The lower the deductible, the more expensive the policy will be.

Is Renter's Insurance Required?

A landlord can require the renter to carry liability insurance, which would cover their liability exposure if someone was injured on the rented premises.

Renter's insurance to cover personal property is not usually required, but many landlords will recommend a tenant consider getting such a policy.

Be aware that a landlord can lawfully change the terms of the rental agreement to require renter's insurance. This could happen when signing a new lease, or after the proper legal notice for a month-to-month rental agreement. A landlord could decide to add this requirement after discovering the renter is keeping animals on the property, for example.

Insurance Company Obligations and Rights

Your insurance company has an obligation to pay on a valid policy claim, minus the deductible. Negligent or accidental acts are generally covered. For example, if the ceiling leaked in your apartment and damaged your laptop computer, you may be able to recover the cost of your laptop (if it exceeded the cost of your deductible).

Intentional acts are not covered. So, if your child threw your computer on the ground and it stopped working, repairs would come out of your pocket.

Most renters do not know that when they purchase a liability insurance policy, one of the insurance company's obligations is to provide them with a legal defense in the event of a lawsuit. For example, if someone tripped over furniture in your apartment and broke their leg, they may sue you for negligence. The insurance company will handle it.

The insurance company has a contractual right to settle or to defend the case and it will do so as it sees fit. As the policy owner, you can provide input, but the insurance company is not obligated to get your consent or approval.

Related Resources

Get Legal Help: Talk with an Attorney

Was your property damaged because of a landlord's negligence and they are refusing to take responsibility? Did you make a claim against your renter's insurance policy only to have it denied? Talk to a local insurance attorney who can advise you on your next course of action.

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.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you navigate any landlord-tenant issues.

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