8 Best Renters Insurance Companies in California of 2022
As the most populated state in the U.S. with a number of major cities, California has a sizable number of renters--most of whom properly don't have renters insurance.
However, Californians have plenty of reasons to get insurance, even if you aren't a homeowner.
Besides getting coverage for potential theft or damage, renters insurance can reimburse you if your possessions are destroyed or damaged in a fire--even wildfires, which is something Californians need to think about.
There is an abundance of other protections and reasons for a renter to get insurance.
There’s no law that requires renters to purchase a policy but its definitely the smart option.
With so many insurers to choose from the task could be overwhelming
PropertyNest researched and reviewed dozens of the top insurance companies serving California to find the best coverage, tech, claims service, pricing, and discounts.
You can take note of what we named each company best for you can figure out which one is right for you.
This guide to renters insurance coverage in California will also help you figure out how renters insurance can benefit you and what to expect from your policy.
Best Renters Insurance Companies in California
Lemonade: Best Policy for Instant Quote
Allstate: Best Policy for Making Claims Easy
Liberty Mutual: Best Policy for Discounts
State Farm: Best Policy for Cheapest Rate
Geico: Best Policy for Cheapest Earthquake Coverage
Assurant: Best Policy Overall
Progressive: Best for Single Deductible
Amica Mutual: Best Policy for Coverages
Lemonade: Best Policy for Instant Quote
Lemonade is a popular renters insurance provider known for its charitable giveback program, simple app and online experience, and quality coverage.
Lemonade is all AI, so everything you do, from getting a quote to adding coverage, is accomplished on the insurer’s website and app.
Lemonade is the leader when it comes to getting a quote. Cleanly designed and easy to use, you can get an instant quote right on the homepage without searching for it or having to keep on clicking on links.
Lemonade is also known for its affordable premiums.
Lemonade offers a number of different plans to suit the needs and preferences for any size business, starting at only $5 per month.
For a standard or basic renters insurance policy, we ascertained from Lemonade’s site that it costs only $12.84 per month.
Another upside is that Lemonade offers an earthquake endorsement, unlike some insurers.
And not only that, earthquake coverage is only $4.75 per month, although that’s on top of your basic policy.
So, in total, California residents pay around $18 per month if they choose Lemonade.
How’s Lemonade Rated?
- AM Best: A-
- NAIC: .81
- Not BBB accredited
Read a full Lemonade home renters insurance review.
|Fast premium quote.||A company built for online use only.|
|Handles 30% of claims instantly.||No live agents to speak to.|
|Flat fee on monthly premiums.||Lack of deductible options.|
|10% bundling discount when combining home insurance with pet insurance.||Few discounts to lower premiums.|
|Donates unused insurance money to charities.||Not as cheap as quoted rate when you add an endorsement.|
Allstate: Best Policy for Making Claims Easy
Although Allstate is a national insurance company, it has that small mom-and-pop feel because it’s easy to talk to local agents who know your area or neighborhood more than its competitors.
You can call your local agent to get a quote or to ask questions about your policy.
Besides its affordable rates, $17 to $20 per month (the higher limit isn’t what we’d like to see), Allstate is known for its many ways to file a claim.
And, similar to Lemonade, Allstate allows you to get an instant quote and purchase a policy on its website in under 10 minutes without talking to a customer service rep.
Allstate coverage is also customizable, allowing you to choose whether you want RCV or ACV personal property protection and whether you want extra protection for other items in your home.
And if you have to vacant your rental due to a fire that burns down your building and your unit, you can stay at comparable digs and there is no limit on loss of use, which is unique to the company.
And not only that, the insurer’s many customer discounts offer steep savings, which can bring your premium down in a significant way.
- You get 15% off if your rental is safe (fire alarms, security systems, etc.)
- You get 25% off if you’re retired and at least 55 years old.
- You get 20% off if you have never filed a renters insurance claim.
The big downside is that Allstate does not offer an earthquake insurance policy.
How’s Allstate Rated?
- AM Best Rating: A+
- J.D. Power: 841/1000
- BBB: A+
Read a full Allstate renters insurance review.
|An umbrella policy provides liability protection beyond the limits of standard policies.||No optional earthquake endorsement.|
|Has tool to help calculate the value of personal belongings.||Not explicit about what events count as covered losses.|
|Provides additional coverage for valuables like jewelry and musical instruments.||Coverage amounts for personal belongings, loss of use, liability, and medical expenses vary by state.|
|Choose between RCV or ACV for personal property coverage.||Average customer satisfaction for claims.|
|Optional coverage for your yard and garden is not available in every state.|
|Adding RCV coverage is pricey.|
Liberty Mutual: Best Policy for Discounts
Liberty Mutual is best known for its comprehensive coverage, its ability to cover high-end valuables like jewelry using an add-on, its easy claims processing, cheap rates, and its comprehensive earthquake coverage.
Liberty’s earthquake coverage, called earthquake damage for renters, is one of the best around.
For California residents that live in areas susceptible to earthquakes, this optional coverage protects you in the event of an earthquake.
Coverage includes damage caused by aftershocks up to 360 hours after the initial earthquake.
You can add this protection to protect your property from the damage of earthquakes.
Note that this coverage requires a separate deductible.
The bad news is that while Liberty covers California, you can only get earthquake coverage if you live in an eligible area.
But Liberty’s discounts are hard to beat. They offer many and some include the following:
You are eligible for a discount if you bundle more than one Liberty Mutual insurance policy, like renters and auto insurance.
If you haven’t filed a claim with your previous insurance carrier for at least five years, your rate will drop.
If you get a quote from Liberty Mutual before your current policy expires, you can get a discount.
If you enroll in automatic payments linked to a bank account, you qualify for a discount.
If you purchase renters insurance online, you also get a discount.
And if you choose to receive policy documents from Liberty electronically, you can get a discount.
How’s Liberty Mutual Rated?
- AM Best: A
- NAIC: .11
- JD Power: 823/1,000
- BBB; A
Read a full Liberty Mutual home insurance review.
|Easy online claims filing.||Earthquake coverage not available in all areas of California.|
|With its online claims process and mobile app, you can “chat” with the insurer almost exclusively without needing to call a representative.||Limited extra coverages.|
|Great for those who want to connect with a local agent.||Replacement cost for personal property is an add-on at an additional cost.|
|Customer service available on weekends.||Theft coverage available, but it will increase your premium.|
|People looking for multiple lines of insurance coverage.||Mold damage caused by flood not covered.|
|Tuition insurance included, which covers illnesses, unexpected accidents, and mental health conditions like mood disorders and anxiety issues.||Flood insurance available.|
State Farm: Best Policy for Cheapest Rate
State Farm is one of the best and most well-known insurance company in the US.
For the most part, that’s because it offers inexpensive premiums for renters insurance policies.
In California, your premium can be as low as $11.58 with $30,000 in personal property coverage and the standard $100,000 in liability coverage.
This means that State Farm has the cheapest rate in comparison to other insurers we looked at.
But check with your landlord for liability coverage before you buy the policy; some landlords require renters to have a specific minimum for liability.
Also, State Farm provides coverage for your belongings, as other insurers do.
But with the company’s comprehensive policies, you can get personalized renters insurance that fits your needs.
Importantly, State Farm offers earthquake coverage at an added cost.
The policy covers some of the losses and damage that earthquakes can cause to your belongings.
How’s State Farm Rated?
- JD Power: 850/1,000
- AM Best: A++
- NAIC: 0.38
|Inexpensive premiums; the lowest in the industry.||Doesn’t cover every disaster.|
|Claims-free history and home alert features discounts.||Doesn't offer coverage for less than $10,000 of property.|
|Online quote tool connects you with a local agent.||Fails to list different coverages and savings on its site.|
|Save by bundling your coverage.||Add-ons can be costly.|
|Received the highest possible rating by AM Best.||Can’t lower premium by much due to only two discounts.|
|The two discounts are bundling and having a safe rental.|
|Doesn't offer 24/7 customer service.|
Geico: Best Policy for Cheapest Earthquake Coverage
Geico has a user-friendly app and website that you can use that covers every part of your renters insurance.
You can even estimate the value of your personal items and learn if there are any discounts you can take advantage of to lower your premium.
Geico’s online and app experience is similar to its competitor, Lemonade, although Geico does it one better by having customers being able to conveniently get in contact with a local agent.
But for California residents, it’s Geico’s earthquake endorsement policy that stands out.
Earthquake insurance for renters is the safest way to protect your belongings and cover the cost of living somewhere else, like a hotel if your rental is damaged and needs repairs after an earthquake.
It’s imperative for California residents to get an earthquake endorsement because the state is situated on a fault line.
And you can’t just risk it, because Geico has one of the cheapest earthquake policies in the US, at only $2.08 per month.
With a standard policy that costs just $16.70 per month, you’re looking at paying only $18.78 per month.
How’s Geico Rated?
- J.D. Powers: 823/1,000
|Has one of the cheapest earthquake policies.||Functions as an agency and doesn't underwrite its own renters policies.|
|Earthquake insurance covers loss of use.||Underwrites other companies.|
|Bundle Geico auto insurance to get discount.||Making a claim through a third-party insurer can be confusing.|
|$100 deductible option at reasonable rate.||Few discounts other than bundling.|
|Smartphone app connects users to local agents.||Known more for its auto insurance.|
|Low cost for paying in full.|
Assurant: Best Policy Overall
Assurant is best overall because of its affordable rates, cheap earthquake policies, compelling optional coverages, and noteworthy flood insurance endorsements.
Assurant offers renters a selection of lower deductibles of $100, $250, and $500.
Renters also win with Assurant’s basic renters insurance policy which has a cheap monthly premium of only $13.42.
On top of that, Assurant offers earthquake protection and has the second-lowest earthquake policy at only $2.09 per month, which is just a penny over Geico’s $2.08 policy rate.
So, for both the basic renters policy and the earthquake add-on on top, you’re looking to pay only $15.51 per month.
This makes Assurant the most affordable renters insurance in the US.
Assurant is also one of the nation’s leading providers of flood insurance.
This is great for California residents, who experience frequent flooding from storms and heavy weather.
Assurant has thirty years of experience when it comes to floods and flood damages and the insurer offers the most competitive rates for a flood policy add-on.
The insurer is also considered the second-largest carrier offering flood insurance.
If your rental or home is damaged due to a flood and you have to move elsewhere, Assurant will pay for additional living expenses.
Assurant also offers a few unique optional coverages that are rarely seen in other insurers.
For example, with pet damage coverage, if your dog or cat ruins your new sofa by scratching or going to the bathroom on it, the coverage will pay to repair or replace it.
Another example is unemployment insurance. If you are unemployed for a month or more, this coverage pays part of your rent directly to your landlord.
Other more apparent coverages include replacement cost coverage, sewer backup coverage, and identity fraud coverage.
How’s Assurant Rated?
- BBB: A+
|Helpful educational content in quote and signup tools.||Earthquake coverage only available in California and Washington State.|
|Cheap earthquake coverage.||Only offers renters insurance; thus no bundling.|
|Low deductible choices.||Lacks discount options.|
|Flood insurance pays for additional living expenses.||High number of customer complaints.|
|An add-on pays for damage from a backed-up drain or sewer.||More expensive than its competitors.|
|Bedbug damage and food spoilage are included; this is rare coverage.||Below-average customer service.|
|Slow claim service response time.|
Progressive: Best for Single Deductible
Progressive teams up with third-party insurers to provide renters insurance.
Progressive is most known for the discounts it offers to policyholders.
One of its best is a single deductible discount that can save you a lot on your policy.
If you bundle renters insurance with Progressive’s auto insurance and one claim applies to both, you only need to pay a single deductible.
So, if someone steals your car, your auto policy will cover the theft.
And if someone steals the belongings inside your car, like your laptop or expensive handbag, your renters policy will cover the theft as well.
Here are some popular discounts that Progressive has:
|Paperless||Having all your policy information and news delivered to you electronically will grant you a discount.|
|Pay in Full||You save money in the long run if you pay your policy in full the second you sign on the dotted line.|
|The 3-Day Discount||Starting your policy at least 3 days after reviewing your quote gets you a discount.|
|Gated Community||If your rental is behind gates or has a security guard, you get a discount, but keep in mind that you must drive by an active security guard or use a keypad or remote to enter your rental community.|
Note that Progressive renters insurance policies come either from an affiliate, Progressive Home, or from a third-party company called Homesite.
How’s Progressive rated?
- AM Best: A+
- JD Power Score: 835/1,000
|Many ways to reach customer service: policyholders can contact via phone, web, app, or online chat.||Doesn’t offer earthquake insurance, which can be a deal-breaker for California residents.|
|24/7 customer service by phone.||Can’t file a claim online, which means you must contact a service rep directly.|
|HomeShield offers increased coverage for collections, watercraft, theft of firearms, and business property.||For those who are looking to save time by using the company’s website or app, the claims processing can be a disadvantage.|
|Additional coverage for computers and related equipment if you use them for your business and work from home.||The mobile app caters to auto and other types of insurance, so you can’t use it to manage your renters policy.|
|You can get coverage for water damage from the backup of sewer or sump pump systems.||Lacks multiple additional coverage options.|
|Down payment required with first month, making that period of coverage expensive.|
|Paperless discount only available if you do it while applying for a quote.|
Amica Mutual: Best Policy for Coverages
Amica Mutual takes the top spot for having extra—and often necessary-- coverage that you can add to your standard renters policy.
The coverages include:
|Earthquake Coverage||The insurer offers the best California earthquake insurance because it partners with the CEA (California Earthquake Authority). This is a good thing because CEA provides the majority of all earthquake coverage throughout the Golden State. Earthquake coverage protects your personal property from damage caused by seismic activity.|
|Sewage and Drain Backup Coverage||This coverage helps you repair water damage from overflowing drains and sewers, broken sump pumps, and damage that results from water moving from the ground up.|
|Identity Theft Protection||This add-on protects renters in the event of identity fraud and pays for the cost of restoring their identity.|
|Personal Property Replacement Coverage||This endorsement allows you to increase your policy limits for your personal belongings and ensure that they are covered under replacement cost, which will pay for property damage due to a peril without depreciation.|
|Valuable Items||Valuable personal property coverage protects high-cost items such as vintage watches, jewelry, artwork, electronics, and furniture from theft, loss, or damage.|
|Platinum Choice Home Protection||Besides sewer and drain backup, this special coverage protects your credit cards if they are lost or stolen, computers or laptops if they are destroyed or stolen, and business property that you use at home, such as a printer or a fax line.|
|Flood Insurance Coverage|
Besides these coverages, Amica is recognized as one of the best insurers in the US.
It won the Highest Customer Satisfaction ranking from JD Power for 17 years in a row and earned the second spot in JD Power’s U.S. Home Insurance Study.
How’s Amica Mutual Rated?
- JD Power: 894/1,000
- NAIC Complaint Ratio: 1.95
- AM Best: A+
|Excellent customer service and claims handling.||Doesn’t go into detail about which events you’re protected from under coverage.|
|Offers deductible as low as $100.||Charges unexpected surcharges.|
|No limit on personal property coverage.||Need to pay extra for replacement cost coverage.|
|File a claim by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.||Not available nationwide.|
|Coverage packages available for pets, special occasions, and retirement planning.||Provides only five different discounts.|
|Offers live 24/7 claims processing.|
|Allows renters to save for a house in the future.|
How We Decided
We gathered information from multiple trusted sites in renters insurance in California and the websites of insurance companies and narrowed our search down with the needs of California residents by prioritizing the following:
If a company had a lot of different discounts that could significantly lower your premium, we put that insurer on our list.
It was important for the insurers we chose that they had a multi-policy or bundling discount because that took off the highest percentage from your premium. Some companies reduced their premiums by 15% when bundling.
A reputable insurer should have a range of policy coverage options to suit the different needs of different policyholders.
We looked at how many coverages an insurer had to customize a renter’s basic policy.
Coverage options are popular.
That’s because there is limited coverage available to customers in a standard renters policy.
In considering the needs of California residents, we looked at many insurers to find the ones that had earthquake coverage and flood insurance.
It was to our surprise that many renters insurers didn’t offer earthquake coverage as an add-on to the basic plan, but that’s primarily because California residents are considered high risk for insurers.
If an earthquake happened and destroyed the inside of your apartment rental as well as other units in your building and houses or townhouses that are nearby, this would be catastrophic to insurers.
If they didn’t have an excellent financial rating, they might not fulfill their obligations when so many people are probably making claims all at once.
We looked at only those companies with useful and convenient websites and apps that were not difficult to use and easy to navigate. Those insurers that allowed you to get a quote online or buy a policy online were put high on our list.
We reviewed published consumer ratings and reviews of renters insurance providers.
We spent a reasonable amount of time looking at verified third-party reviews.
Insurers with many quality consumer ratings and reviews were included in our list.
Renters insurance is generally cheap.
So we looked at how affordable an insurer was.
We looked at insurers who had rates lower than, or near, the state and national average.
We found many premiums for under $15 per month in our search.
So, the best way to find cheap insurance is to search, i.e., get as many quotes from insurers to compare them to each other so we can locate the one with the best price.
We surveyed insurance coverage prices in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
In California, the standard renters insurance policy covers liability, theft, medical treatment, and loss of use.
Liability protects you against lawsuits from someone who has bodily injuries or property damages that you or your family caused to them.
Liability also covers your legal defense.
Personal Property Coverage
This pays to repair or replace the property that’s stolen or vandalized or that has been damaged due to fire, windstorms, smoke damage, and other perils your policy may cover.
Loss of Use
This policy covers basic living expenses and temporary housing costs if you can’t live in your rental unit due to damage and destruction from fire, smoke, and heavy winds.
This policy pays for medical care if there is bodily injury to a person that occurs in your rental unit, regardless of fault.
Should You Skip Getting Renters Insurance?
Many renters or tenants will skip getting renters insurance primarily to save money and because it isn’t required by law in California.
However, unlike some other states, California landlords require tenants to purchase renters insurance while leasing their property units.
How does The Landlord enforce renters Insurance?
Some lease agreements include a clause in which the renter agrees to purchase a renters insurance policy.
This is partly done to protect the landlord from a lawsuit if damage to the property causes it to become uninhabitable.
It is also to protect the landlord from liability if an injury occurs on the premises.
For the clause, there is essential wordage that states that the landlord’s insurance does not in any way cover a renter’s personal property if the property is damaged by a covered peril or stolen by thieves.
When there’s a clause in your lease, you must have renters insurance at all times.
The clause can also help to protect the landlord from missed rent payments if the renter loses her belongings due to a fire or other natural disaster occurring on the property.
To make sure you comply with the clause, your landlord may ask for proof of renters insurance each time you renew your lease.
That’s because landlords want to ensure you have enough personal liability coverage in your renters policy.
In addition, they may also check if you have enough personal property coverage for your belongings.
Notably, the landlord may also require you to list your personal belongings as an interested party on your policy.
In this way, the landlord will be automatically notified if you cancel your policy.
This ensures that you don’t cancel your renters insurance policy right after proving that you are covered.
If a renter can’t provide proof of coverage, the landlord may remind the renter that this is a severe requirement.
If that’s the case, the landlord has all the right to send a notice to the renter to comply or quit or an eviction notice that clearly states that the tenant has to move out if the tenant continues to violate the lease clause.
For California residents, it’s kind of scary because if you fail to purchase insurance or allow it to lapse, your landlord can begin eviction proceedings.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Renters Insurance
Many tenants don’t know that renters insurance is a smart move because it is low in cost.
You can get protection for your personal belongings. You can also have your insurer pay for any medical bills if someone injures himself on your property and any legal defense if the injured person decides to sue you.
It costs only around $15 per month for renters insurance. If that seems too expensive for you, think about it in this way.
Your monthly premium costs less than a take-out pizza.
Do you want to risk it and do without?
If your rental unit was burglarized, you need to replace your clothes, any furniture worth salvaging, electronics like laptops and smart TVs, and high-cost items like artwork.
With renters insurance, your insurer will cover most or part of the value of damaged items. You’re entirely on the hook for all those costs without this coverage.
Or what if there was an electrical surge in your building?
Everything you own that was plugged in will have been damaged severely. That means your TV, computer, and small appliances, to name a few.
Had you purchased renters insurance, you’d be able to submit a claim and receive a reimbursement to replace your belongings.
What Factors Determine Your Policy Rate?
As you search for the best policy, keep these factors in mind that will increase or decrease your rate.
California is prone to earthquakes because of the many fault lines running through the state.
As such, California renters should purchase earthquake insurance, which will drive their rate up.
Not Up to Code Home
If your rental is old, dilapidated, not up to code, and far from a fire station or fire hydrant, your policy will cost more.
Long Rental History
If you’ve rented for a long time in various cities and, as such, have the experience of knowing what additional coverages you should get from renters insurance to make it worthwhile to you, your premium may be lowered.
If you have never made a claim with a past insurer and then signed up for a new renters policy, the new insurer will grant you a discount provided that you don’t make a claim for a certain period dictated by the insurer.
Your pet is usually covered under the liability portion of your renters insurance policy.
However, if your dog, for example, poses a risk and has a history of biting other people, the dog, in all likelihood, will not be covered.
Here’s another way you must shell out. Your dog needs to be insured, so you’ll have to purchase a pet damage endorsement or obtain a separate pet insurance policy, so your pet is covered.
Most insurance companies give you a multi-policy discount for bundling your renters insurance with other policies, like auto insurance and life insurance.
This is a type of discount.
The multi-policy discount is the one you should look out for. It’s the one that can substantially lower your rate. With certain insurers, you can shave 15% off your premium if you bundle.
Can My Credit Score Help Determine My Rate?
One noticeable factor not included here is your credit score, which is used to help determine your premium.
Insurance companies use your credit score to partly determine your rate in most states, although it can’t be the deciding factor. But in general, the higher your credit score, the less you’ll pay in premiums.
However, California is one of few states where insurance companies can’t use credit-based scores or your credit history to help determine your rate.
Many people in California who have low scores and apply for renters insurance have as much as a chance of getting a reasonable rate compared to those with an excellent credit rating.
How Much is Renters Insurance in California?
Before we look at costs, consider how much you pay for your monthly premium, depending on how much coverage you need.
So, rates will vary, depending on not just your preferred coverage limits but also the value of your belongings.
The cost of renters insurance is relatively low in California.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average renters insurance policy in California typically costs between $180 and $190 per year or about $15 per month.
This makes the cost of renters insurance in California the same as the national average of $15 per month.
This figure is based on having $20,000 in personal property coverage, $100,000 in liability coverage, and a $500 deductible.
What Natural Disasters are Covered in a Standard Renters Policy?
The following natural disasters, often called covered perils, are covered by a standard renters insurance policy.
- Windstorm and hail damage.
- Smoke damage.
- Volcanic eruption.
- Weight of ice, sleet, or snow.
- Water damage unrelated to natural floods.
What Natural Disasters are Not Covered in a Standard Renters Policy?
The following natural disasters are not covered in a standard renters insurance policy.
- Natural floods
What Natural Disasters Occur in California?
California is one of the top ten riskiest states to live in the US due to many natural disasters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new “National Risk Index”
These natural disasters occur in California:
Does California Get Tornadoes?
In Los Angeles County, tornadoes are a risk and are more likely to happen between November through January.
The towns with the most recorded tornadoes include Long Beach, South Los Angeles, and South Whittier.
In California in general, tornadoes do happen, but they are usually quick-hitting and weak.
Does California Have Hurricanes?
It’s very unlikely. However, should your city in California be subjected to a rare hurricane that causes major destruction, your renters insurance will protect you.
Why is California Prone to Natural Disasters?
A combination of coastal conditions, fluctuating weather, extreme heat, and geology makes California prone to natural disasters.
What Part of California is Most at Risk?
Los Angeles, more than any other city in California, is prone to many natural disasters.
These include wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, and mudslides.
To prepare for natural disasters in Los Angeles—or in most cities in California—you should first know the hazards you may be subject to while renting.
Second, because not all natural disasters are covered in a standard renters insurance policy, you should be aware of what your insurer covers and does not cover.
The good news is that wildfires, landslides, and mudslides are covered.
So, if a fire destroys your apartment building and your unit is also destroyed to the point that it becomes a health risk and is uninhabitable, your renters insurance will pay for your damaged belongings and also your meals and a place to stay while your building is reconstructed.
The bad news is that earthquakes and floods aren’t covered.
In fact, no matter what state you live in, a standard renters policy will never cover earthquakes and floods.
Why You Should Get Earthquake Coverage and Flood Insurance
California is at risk of earthquakes as it is situated on a fault line,
Therefore, it’s advisable to buy additional earthquake coverage.
It’s also recommended that California renters should also get flood insurance.
But there are differences between natural floods and floods that cause interior damage.
Flood damage that results from water back up or water that originates in the rental is covered.
Natural floods due to such things as hurricanes or severe storms that come into your renter’s property from outside and which leak into it and damage your belongings are not covered.
Since flooding due to natural disasters is quite common, it’s recommended to get flood insurance.
Both earthquake and flood insurance will raise your premium, but if you didn’t have them and one or both occurred, you’d be paying out of pocket for any damages and losses.
What Does Earthquake Insurance Cover?
While earthquake coverage differs depending on the insurer you choose, it usually covers repairs to your apartment unit and personal belongings damaged due to an earthquake.
In addition, earthquake coverage also includes any necessary living expenses if your rental becomes uninhabitable, such as staying at hotels or eating out at restaurants.
However, earthquake coverage does not cover fire damage, flooding, and vehicle damage.
You get fire damage from your basic policy, flooding for an additional cost to your basic policy, and vehicle damage from your auto insurer.
What if My Policy Doesn’t Include Earthquake Coverage?
In California, if a renters insurance policy doesn’t include an earthquake endorsement, you need to shop around.
A renters insurance company can help point you in the right direction after you get an instant quote.
In addition, the Department of Insurance website can also be a resource for finding licensed earthquake insurers.
Californians also have another option. You can buy earthquake coverage through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA)
You can get an instant quote on CEA’s website.
Then you’ll be able to search for a renters insurance policy on the list of participating insurance companies.
If you already have a renters policy, you can contact the company to see if it's a CEA-approved insurer.
However, if an earthquake has just occurred in your area, insurers typically won’t sell new policies for one or two months.
So, you should get earthquake coverage immediately, which is when you sign up for a renters insurance policy.
What Issues Does Los Angeles Face?
There are many issues that Los Angeles renters must be aware of.
Traffic and traffic congestion may make you want to rent in a place far from many of Los Angeles’s highways.
In LA, there’s a lack of public transportation. Those who don’t own cars are at risk.
LA also faces the bad reputation of its city’s public schools.
A high crime rate is also an issue that renters must face. If you live in such an area, your policy rate will be high because your neighborhood is not safe.
What Renters Insurance Typically Does Not Cover in California
Besides earthquakes and flood damage, the basic renters insurance does not cover the following:
Landlords or owners need to buy extra coverage for the frame and structure of their property because they are not covered in landlord insurance.
If you have a roommate and you experience a covered peril, only your personal belongings are covered,
The roommate’s belongings are not covered, so if she needs coverage, she’ll have to buy her own renters policy.
You need to get add-on coverage for costly items and valuables as they are excluded from standard renters insurance policies or are only covered up to the policy’s limit.
How Much Liability Coverage Should I Get in California?
It depends on the landlord.
If your landlord requires renters insurance, check with the landlord to see how much liability coverage the landlord wants you to get.
Most landlords require a liability coverage limit of $100,000.
But note that adding more coverage is relatively inexpensive.
For just a few dollars a year, you can get $300,000 or $500,000 of liability coverage on your California renters insurance.
What Does a Landlord’s Insurance Policy Cover?
Your landlord will have insurance too, but that in no way covers you.
Renters insurance does not cover the rental structure, such as the exterior and interior of your apartment building.
That’s your landlord’s responsibility.
The landlord’s insurance covers common areas in an apartment building that may need repairs or become damaged due to a covered peril, such as the lobby, the elevator, the hallways, and other common spaces.
But in some situations, a landlord will cover certain parts of your rental unit.
For example, if there’s a burglary, the landlord will repair or replace your front door or any busted windows.
If your electrical system goes down, your landlord will also repair it.
However, you’d have to pay out-of-pocket if your food gets spoiled in your refrigerator before the landlord makes the repairs.
Some renters insurance providers do cover spoiled food as part of their standard policy but that’s rare.
You may be able to get additional coverage to cover your losses, but you’d have to assess whether or not it’s essential or just things you can easily replace.
How Do I Protect My High-Cost Personal Belongings?
So, if your belongings were damaged or destroyed by a fire or stolen due to a burglary or other covered peril, your standard renters policy in California will be able to replace or repair your belongings in full, minus the deductible.
Most renters have anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 worth of personal belongings.
However, if your diamond ring costs $20,000 and your coverage limit is $15,000, you’ll have to pay for the difference.
That’s because a standard renters policy doesn’t really cover expensive possessions like jewelry, musical instruments, electronics, or furniture.
So, if you want to increase your valuables to get full coverage, you can’t rely on the basic renter insurance policy that pays only up to the limit.
You’d have to get yourself an endorsement or a rider, that is, you’d have to increase your coverage by taking out a separate policy at your own cost and on top of your basic renters policy to get the full value of your most prized possessions.
But first, you’ll have to get your expensive items appraised.
That’s because the appraised value of an item is used to determine the cost of the policy rider.
For example, you will pay about $2 per $100 in value for a rider to cover expensive jewelry. So, if you have a diamond ring worth $5,000, you’ll pay $100 for a rider on top of your insurance premium.
Note that some companies do not put a limit on personal property coverage. But they can be hard to find.
Can You Be Denied Renters Insurance in California?
Yes. If you are near areas where wildfires happen frequently, you may find yourself being denied renters insurance.
It’s too much of a risk for the insurer, which is why the insurer may deny you just for being too far from a fire station, as well as a fire hydrant.
A fire hydrant should be within 1,000 feet from where you rent.
Because you don’t have enough protection from the risk of a fire, many insurance companies will see you as not insurable.
What’s The Last Resort If I’m Declined for Renters Insurance?
If you’ve been declined several times by renters insurance companies, you are not out of luck.
Your last resort is the California FAIR Plan, which offers renters insurance to those who pose a risk and who’ve been turned down elsewhere.
However, the FAIR Plan has limited coverage in comparison to a standard renters insurance policy.
The FAIR Plan pays only for damage due to fire, lightning, smoke, and internal explosions.
Those disasters are considered standard in a renters insurance policy.
There are also a few coverages that you have to pay extra for from The FAIR Plan and which come standard in a renters policy.
For example, theft isn’t covered. You can buy that from The FAIR Plan, which is known as a “difference in conditions” policy to fill the gap.
The “difference in conditions” policy is supplemental insurance that can extend your limits for covered perils like fire or provide additional coverage for certain situations.
For example, one of the most common renters insurance claim is water damage, with the water coming in from your home from, say, a burst pipe, and not originating from water or floods that come into your rental from outside.
You can thus buy a “difference in conditions” policy for water damage.
Do I Need Renters Insurance if I Don’t Own That Much?
Often, renters underestimate the property they have. If you don’t believe you have much, just a couch, your bed, and your smart TV, you should do a home inventory.
That couch may have been from RH, your bedframe may be vintage, and your smart TV may be worth one month’s salary.
When you do a home inventory, you may surprise yourself.
What is a Home Inventory?
A home inventory is simply taking stock of all your belongings.
You need to look at your personal possessions, assign them a cost, and put them on some sort of spreadsheet. Or you can take photos of your items.
If you can’t remember the cost of each item you own, or if you can’t find any receipts, you can do research on the internet to find the item you own.
Or you can find a similar item in comparison to your item if the manufacturer no longer makes it.
Then tally up the costs and you’ll most likely see that you do have enough possessions that would be hard to replace on your own or that are too high in cost for you to afford them now.
In this way, if you make a claim because your items were damaged by a fire, the insurer will know exactly what to pay.
Importantly, a home inventory allows you to determine how much coverage you may need in addition to what a standard renter’s policy offers.
Since renters insurance in California comes with personal property replacement cost either as standard in your renters policy or as an add-on that you have to pay extra for, your policy would pay you enough money to purchase a new couch, that smart TV, and more if they were damaged or destroyed by a covered loss.
In sum, renters or tenants don’t consider the value of what they have, but those who own very little often aren’t in a position to replace it.
These people are thus considered most at risk, and they are the very individuals who need renters insurance the most.