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Rental Insurance for Tenants

What if you could insure all your belongings against loss from theft and cover medical expenses for liability claims for injuries in your home?  If you are a tenant, you can do this with rental insurance, getting many of the same protections as homeowners.  Yet many renters decline coverage, thinking that their landlord has a policy which covers them, or believing that the additional expense per month is not justified.

Misconceptions abound when it comes to renter's insurance.  One of the major myths is that a tenant doesn’t have enough in belongings to need insurance coverage. 

Most people think of big ticket items when considering what a claim might be for damages – an appliance, a wide screen TV, jewelry. But the amount of personal property everyone has is usually underestimated.  Most people are surprised to learn what it costs to replace possessions once a disaster strikes.  Furniture, dishes, bedding, electronics, clothing, appliances, and items of personal value all add up to a large outlay to replace in the event of a catastrophe.

Another myth is that the landlord’s insurance policy will cover you.  However, if you are renting a house, or an apartment in a multi family building, the landlord changes the insurance policy from a traditional homeowners policy to a rental policy.  The rental policy only covers the structure, not the tenants belongings.  Even if the landlord owns an appliance that causes damage, they are not covered under landlord policy.  Those losses are expected to be covered by rental insurance.

In addition to personal belongings, renter insurance covers liability for injuries to others caused in your apartment or caused by unexpected disasters in your apartment to other tenants.  For example, if you have a flood in your apartment, and there is damage to your neighbors’ belongings, rental insurance covers you.  Also if you have a guest in your home, and someone trips on the carpet and injures themselves, you could be liable for their medical expenses and the legal expenses as well.  Renter's insurance covers you.

Finally, the idea that rental insurance is too expensive is just not true.  Premiums vary between providers, locations, and individual renters, but in general, rental insurance is much cheaper than homeowners insurance, and can protect a tenant from crushing expenses. 

Shop around, compare policies.  You may be able to get a discount with some companies by combining renter's insurance with auto insurance.

By Janet Hill

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