What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Learn what renters insurance covers and the different types of protection it provides. Find out how rental insurance works, theft protection, and more.
Apartment, New York

Renters insurance is a form of insurance that protects individuals renting their homes or apartments.

Renters insurance helps protect renters financially in the event of damage to their personal property, liability claims, and other potential losses incurred while renting.

This type of insurance generally covers the cost of replacing or repairing items damaged or destroyed due to events such as fire, smoke damage, vandalism, theft, and other acts of nature.

It also provides financial protection against liability claims and medical bills resulting from someone being injured in the rented space.

Renters insurance policies typically vary from one insurer to another but generally cover the same types of things.

These include personal property loss due to fire, smoke damage, vandalism, theft, water damage (such as burst pipes), and certain natural disasters, including windstorms and earthquakes. Additionally, it can also provide coverage for attorney’s fees if you are sued by a guest who was injured in your rental unit.

  • Fire, smoke damage, vandalism, and theft
  • Water damage due to burst pipes
  • Windstorms and earthquakes
  • Liability claims from injured guests
  • Replacement or repair costs for personal property
  • Medical bills resulting from an injury on the rental premises
  • Attorney’s fees if sued by a guest who was injured in the rental unit

Does Landlord's Insurance Cover Renters Property?

In most cases, the landlord is not responsible for renters' personal property insurance coverage.

Typically, it is the renter's responsibility to purchase their own coverage should they desire it. The landlord is generally responsible only for insuring the physical structure of the rental unit and not any tenants' items inside.

It is possible that you can receive compensation if a landlord is found to be liable for damages to your belongings, which would be covered by their liability insurance.

That being said, the landlord may not be found liable in most situations, so you'll need to assess the risk accordingly.

Additionally, it may be helpful to check with the local laws in your state since some states require landlords to offer or provide renters insurance.

Finally, if you decide to purchase renters insurance, read the policy carefully to ensure that it includes the coverage you need.

By understanding your rights and responsibilities, you can ensure that you are adequately protected in any rental situation.

Read more: Is My Landlord Responsible For Damage to My Property?

Does Renters Insurance Cover Property Damage?

Renters insurance does not cover structural property damage--only personal property.

As previously stated, renters insurance will cover losses due to events such as fire, smoke damage, vandalism, theft and certain natural disasters like windstorms and earthquakes, but not damage caused by floods, landslides or sinkholes.

However, other options are available to renters who want additional protection against potential flood-related damages.

Does Liability Insurance Cover Any Property Damage?

Property damage resulting from an intentional act or negligence on the part of the tenant may not be covered by the liability policy.

For example, if a tenant causes property damage due to improper use or maintenance of appliances or other items in the rental space, the tenant is likely liable for those damages, and the renters insurance policy won't apply.

Similarly, suppose a tenant causes damage to another person's property while in the rental unit or because of something that occurred in the rental unit.

In these types of stated cases, they are likely responsible for these costs and would need compensation from an outside source rather than their renters insurance policy.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Flooding?

When it comes to renters insurance, people tend to ask whether or not it covers flooding.

The answer is that it depends on the specific policy and what coverage is included in it.

For most renters insurance policies, flooding is not usually covered.

This is because floods are typically classified as a “generalized risk, " meaning that the potential for flooding can affect an entire region rather than just a single property.

As such, general renters insurance policies often exclude flood coverage from their coverage plans.

However, some renters insurance policies may include coverage for certain flooding types.

For example, they may include coverage for water damage due to sewer backup or sump pump failure, which would be separate from standard flood coverage.

It’s essential to check with your insurer to determine precisely what type of flood protection your policy provides, if any.

National Flood Insurance Program

In addition to checking with your insurer about specific types of flood protection offered by your policy, there are other things you can do to protect yourself from flooding risks in your rental unit.

One option would be to purchase additional flood insurance through an independent provider such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

This type of policy will provide financial protection against damages caused by floods in areas where standard renters insurance does not offer this type of coverage. It is also important to remember that even if you have some form of flood protection in your renters insurance policy, it likely won’t cover all potential damages caused by floods.

In the event of a major disaster like a severe hurricane or tornado where large amounts of rain fall over a short period of time and cause significant flooding on a widespread basis, many homeowners and renters policies will not cover those losses either, and additional flood insurance will be needed to protect yourself financially adequately.

Consider purchasing additional flood insurance through an independent provider if necessary to keep yourself protected against potential losses due to flooding events while renting.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Windstorms?

Renters insurance may provide coverage for damage caused by windstorms, but the exact extent of protection for your possessions will depend on the particular policy.

In most cases, renters insurance policies provide limited coverage for personal property damage caused by windstorms, whether they were damaged outside or inside the home due to wind.

This includes any wind damage due to hurricanes and tornadoes, as long as it doesn't involve flood or water damage from such events.

What Type of Medical Bills Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance policies can provide coverage for various medical bills, depending on the type of policy and the specific insurer.

Typically, any medical expense that is related to an incident that occurred on the rental property would be covered.

This includes both bodily injury and property damage, such as if someone were to slip and fall in your apartment or suffer an animal bite while visiting.

Medical expenses may include hospital stays, doctor’s visits, tests, medications, physical therapy, and any other related costs deemed necessary by a physician.

Some renters insurance policies may also include coverage for mental health services such as counseling or therapy sessions if they are deemed medically necessary by a licensed professional.

What Kinds of Medical Bills Are Not Covered?

Regarding what is not covered by renters insurance medical bills, it's important to remember that the policy will only cover incidents that occur on the rental property itself.

If you were to get injured away from the home or off-site in some way due to negligence from another party (such as in an auto accident), then your renters insurance policy would not usually provide coverage for these types of costs.

Additionally, renters insurance does not typically cover intentionally self-inflicted injuries or any damages or illnesses caused by drug abuse.

It’s important to read over your policy documents carefully in order to understand exactly what type of protection is offered by your particular plan and what types of medical expenses are excluded from coverage.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Bedbugs?

Renters insurance does not provide coverage for bedbugs.

Bedbug infestations are typically excluded from renters insurance policies since they are considered to be a maintenance issues that the tenant is responsible for resolving.

If the tenant has neglected to keep their rental unit in good condition and bedbugs have been allowed to become established, then the tenant will be liable for any damage caused by the pests.

However, there are some cases where renters insurance may provide some coverage for damage caused by bedbugs.

For example, if the infestation was caused by something outside of your control, such as a defective item brought into the rental unit or an unannounced guest bringing bedbugs into your home, you may be able to file a claim with your insurer.

Additionally, if the landlord was found negligent in maintaining their property and allowing the bedbug infestation to become established, you could file a claim against them as well, depending on your state’s laws.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Dog Bites?

Renters insurance policies generally provide some coverage for dog bites, although the specifics of the coverage can vary based on the type of policy and insurer.

Standard renters insurance policies typically include liability coverage, which covers costs associated with a tenant's legal responsibility for damages caused to other people or property. This includes damages resulting from dog bites.

In most cases, renters insurance will cover medical bills and other related expenses that are incurred due to a dog bite up to the limits stated in the policy.

The exact limits may differ depending on the provider, and it’s important to check your policy documents to understand what type of protection is offered by your particular policy.

In addition to medical costs, liability coverage may also include other expenses associated with a dog bite, such as property damage and legal fees.

Certain Breeds of Dogs May Be Excluded Altogether

Another point worth noting is that not all renters insurance policies cover all types of dogs.

Some providers will exclude certain breeds from their coverage due to an increased risk associated with these breeds.

If you own any breed that is excluded by your insurer you should consider seeking additional coverage through an independent provider or another insurer.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Car Theft?

Renters insurance policies can provide coverage for car theft, but it typically comes with certain limitations and may not cover the full replacement cost or other related expenses.

Standard renters insurance policies generally include “Personal Property Coverage” which provides protection for items owned by the tenant that are kept inside their rental unit.

This includes cars and other motor vehicles that are stored in the rental unit, such as boats, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and ATVs.

However, it’s important to note that renters insurance is a type of property damage insurance and does not usually provide comprehensive protection in terms of liability.

In other words, if you were to cause an accident while driving a car or motor vehicle covered under your policy, your renters insurance would likely not provide any compensation for damages caused by your negligence.

For this reason, it's important to be sure that you have adequate auto liability coverage either through a personal auto policy or through a specialty auto policy if necessary.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Mold?

Renters insurance policies can provide limited coverage for damage caused by mold, but the exact extent of protection depends on the type of policy and insurer.

However, it’s important to note that renters insurance does not typically cover the cost of remediating or repairing the source of the mold issue.

In other words, if a tenant discovers mold due to a leaky pipe or other issue with their rental unit, they may be responsible for paying those costs out-of-pocket.

It’s also worth noting that some providers may exclude certain types of mold from coverage due to an increased risk associated with these molds.

What Type of Legal Fees Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance policies can provide coverage for many types of legal fees associated with tenants' rental units.

This includes fees arising from tenant-landlord disputes, such as those related to rents, repairs and maintenance, eviction proceedings, and other landlord-tenant matters.

It can also cover costs associated with defending tenants in court against third-party claims, such as libel or slander lawsuits.

Moreover, renters insurance may also provide protection for liability expenses incurred by tenants if they are found liable for injuries or damages resulting from their negligence or their pet’s actions while on the rental property.

Lawyer Fees

When it comes to lawyer fees specifically, renters insurance policies may offer limited coverage for attorney costs in certain circumstances.

While some policies may only cover legal fees related to defending against third-party claims (such as personal injury lawsuits), others may provide broader coverage that includes assistance with landlord-tenant issues.

However, it’s important to note that most policies will not cover all types of legal costs since some require specialized forms of coverage that must be purchased separately.

Ultimately, when considering what type of legal fees renters insurance covers it is important to check your policy documents carefully so you understand exactly what protection is offered under your particular policy.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Temporary Housing?

Renters insurance policies may provide coverage for temporary housing if a tenant's rental unit becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event, such as a fire, severe storm, or other covered peril.

In these cases, the policy can provide financial assistance for living expenses incurred while seeking alternative housing.

Most renters insurance policies will cover up to a certain dollar limit for costs associated with temporary housing.

This includes items such as hotel stays and meals that are necessary due to the tenant having to leave their rental unit during repairs or rebuilding efforts after an insured event.

Renters Insurance Usually Sets Limits For Loss-of-Use

It’s important to note that not all renters insurance policies are the same and some may have different limits when it comes to covering temporary housing costs.

For example, some insurers may have a maximum daily allowance, while others might set a maximum overall amount that can be claimed.

It’s also possible that some providers may even offer coverage beyond the standard dollar limit as part of their policy benefits.

Some Policies Will Cover a Lot More Than Just Boarding

Furthermore, some renters insurance policies may offer broader protection when it comes to temporary housing.

For instance, they may provide coverage for unexpected living expenses beyond just hotel bills and food costs, such as transportation back home if a tenant needs to prematurely end their stay in temporary accommodation due to unforeseen circumstances such as serious illness or job loss.

Additionally, some policies might even include provisions for long-term living arrangements if a tenant cannot return to their rental unit because of extensive repairs or rebuilding efforts from an insured event.

Overall, renters insurance can provide valuable protection when it comes to dealing with temporary housing needs due to an insured event occurring in your rental unit.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Moving Costs?

Renters insurance policies may offer some coverage for moving costs, depending on the specifics of the policy.

Generally speaking, policies can provide limited protection for certain relocation expenses related to tenants having to move out of their rental unit due to an insured event such as a fire or severe storm.

For example, renters insurance may cover costs associated with transporting furniture and other items needed for the move and packing materials and storage fees if necessary.

However, it’s important to note that most policies will not cover all moving expenses and that different providers may have varying limits when it comes to how much of these costs can be claimed under their respective policies.

In addition to basic coverage for transportation and storage fees, some renters insurance policies may also provide additional protection for unexpected relocation costs, such as pet boarding fees or meals incurred during the move.

When Does Renters Insurance Pay Out?

Renters insurance typically pays out when there is physical damage to the property or belongings of renters that are covered by their renters insurance policy.

Some insurance companies are faster than other when it comes to claim turnarounds and payouts, so important to research reputation and policies.

The payment amount will depend on the coverage limits and deductible, as well as what coverage renters have chosen for their policy.

Generally speaking, renters insurance policies offer two types of coverage: actual cash value (ACV) and replacement cost.

What is Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost?

Actual Cash Value (ACV) is the amount of money an insurance company pays to a policyholder after subtracting depreciation from the replacement cost.

Replacement cost is the cost it would take to completely repair or replace an insured item with one of similar kind and quality.

ACV considers wear and tear due to age, while replacement cost does not.

Ultimately, if something needs to be replaced due to damage or destruction—an insurer will only pay up to its ACV value at that moment in time.

In most cases, you will get less when you are reimbursed under actual cash value than if your policy granted coverage with replacement cost benefit.

How to File a Renters Insurance Claim?

Filing a renters insurance claim can be intimidating and confusing. However, if you have renters insurance, it is important to know how to file a renters insurance claim in order to receive the benefits from your policy.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

The first step when filing a renters insurance claim is to contact your insurance company and provide them with the information they need.

This may include details about when and where the incident occurred, what property has been damaged or lost, a description of any injuries that have occurred, and an estimate of the damages or losses incurred.

Your renters insurance company will then assign an adjuster who will review your claim and determine whether it should be paid out by the renters insurance policy or not.

Some insurance companies allow you to start the process or even complete the whole process online, others require you to speak to an agent or adjuster.

Gather Documentation

Once you have filed your renters insurance claim, you may also need to provide additional documentation, such as police reports or receipts for a property that was stolen or damaged, in order to prove your losses.

It is important that this information is accurate and up-to-date for the adjuster to assess the value of your claim. Depending on the severity of your renters insurance claim, you may also need to answer questions posed by an investigator hired by the insurer.

File a claim

Before filing a renters insurance claim, there are some steps that you can take in order to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

First, take pictures of any damage caused by an accident or theft so that you can use them as evidence when filing a renters insurance claim.

Be sure to keep all receipts for any stolen property and invoices for repairs and replacements so that you have proof of their value when requesting reimbursement from your renters insurance policy.

Additionally, it’s essential to carefully read through your renters' policy before filling out any paperwork related to tenants’ claims to understand what coverage is provided by the plan and what it does not cover.

If your renters’ insurer accepts your renters' claim after reviewing all relevant documents, they will issue a payment either directly or via check, depending on their policy with regards to claims payments.

Keep all records related to your renters’ insurance claim, including paperwork filed with both insurers and adjusters, in case future problems arise due to errors in payment processing or other issues regarding reimbursement amounts due under the terms of coverage outlined in the original policy agreement between yourself and insurers.

Ruth Shin
About the author

Ruth Shin is the Founder and CEO of PropertyNest. She shares in-depth insights on real estate, personal finance, and home improvement drawing from her experience as a licensed real estate agent, editing personal finance publications, and managing many home renovation projects. Ruth graduated with a BA from Hunter College in Writing, History, and Special Honors.