Renters insurance generally covers your personal property, your legal liability in case someone is hurt or you accidentally damage someone else’s property, and additional living expenses if you can’t live at home because of a problem covered by the policy.

A landlord’s insurance coverage pays for damage to the building structure, but it will not pay for damage to your belongings. For example, if there’s a fire, the landlord’s insurance will pay to repair the building, but it would not cover your clothes or furniture, or any extra expenses you have if you have to temporarily move out.

Does renters insurance cover personal property?

A standard renters insurance policy covers personal property from problems known as “perils,” which are:

  • Fire and lightning.
  • Windstorms and hail.
  • Explosions.
  • Riots and civil commotion.
  • Aircraft, such as self-propelled missiles and spacecraft.
  • Vehicles.
  • Smoke.
  • Vandalism.
  • Theft.
  • Falling objects.
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet.
  • Water or steam damage, excluding floods.
  • Sudden tearing apart of air conditioners or water heaters.
  • Freezing.
  • Damage from artificially generated electrical surges.
  • Volcanic eruption.

What is not covered by renters insurance?

Renters insurance typically does not cover damage from:

  • Earthquakes.
  • Floods.

You will need separate policies if you want insurance for earthquakes and floods. Renters can purchase flood insurance from a private insurer or through the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Flood insurance from the NFIP covers personal property up to $100,000.

Depending on your state, you may be able to add earthquake insurance as an endorsement to a renters insurance policy or as a standalone policy. For example, if you want earthquake insurance in California, the California Earthquake Authority requires you purchase earthquake insurance through the same insurance company as your renters insurance.

What is the average renters insurance per month?

The average cost of renters insurance nationwide is about $15 per month, according to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Average cost of renters insurance

Does renters insurance cover liability?

Renters insurance typically covers liability. This covers property damage or injuries to others caused by you or someone in your household. For example, if your child hits a ball through a neighbor’s window, liability coverage will pay for the damage.

Renters insurance also typically includes no-fault medical payments coverage. If someone suffers a minor injury and blames you, this coverage pays out quickly, whether you were negligent or not.

Renters insurance does not cover injuries to you or your household members. If you slip on your rug and sprain your ankle, your medical expenses are generally covered by your health insurance, not renters insurance.

Does renters insurance cover loss of use?

Renters insurance typically covers loss of use, also called “additional living expenses.” If your apartment is uninhabitable due to damage, such as a fire, renters insurance can pay for additional living expenses such as hotel costs, restaurant meals and other bills. Your renters insurance policy might also help cover expenses if you need to permanently relocate.

Renters insurance usually does not cover additional living expenses due to the cancellation of a lease. For example, if you’re evicted or break the terms of a lease, renters insurance won’t cover hotel or relocation costs.

Problems covered by renters insurance

Does renters insurance cover moving?

Renters insurance typically covers your belongings while you’re moving, but only for problems covered by your policy. For example, if your television is stolen, you can file a renters insurance claim. But if you accidentally drop and break the TV while moving, it most likely will not be covered.

Renters insurance might have lower coverage limits if your items are in storage. This is called “off-premises coverage.” For example, a policy might only cover up to 10% or $1,000 (whichever is greater) of personal belongings for up to 30 days from the time you begin to move your property to your new home.

If you move, make sure you give your renters insurance company the new address. The cost of the policy might increase or decrease depending on the new location.

Does renters insurance cover structural damage?

Renters insurance typically does not cover structural damage to the home. A landlord’s insurance generally covers structural damage. For example, if the weight of ice damages the roof, that would be covered by the landlord’s insurance.

Does renters insurance cover accidental damage?

Renters insurance typically covers some types of accidental damage, such as damage you accidentally do to someone else’s property. Depending on the accident, coverage might come from a combination of the landlord’s insurance and your renters insurance. For example, if you accidentally start a fire while cooking dinner, the landlord’s insurance would cover the building and your renters insurance would cover your belongings and damage to your neighbor’s belongings.

Does renters insurance cover pet damage?

Renters insurance does not cover pet damage for belongings, or to structural damage. For example, if your dog chews up your couch and your cat scratches the walls, insurance doesn’t pay.

But renters insurance may cover pet damages to someone else’s property under the liability portion of the policy. For example, if your dog chews up a friend’s expensive handbag, it may be covered.

Does renters insurance cover if my dog bites someone?

Renters insurance typically covers dog bites under the liability portion of the policy, whether you’re at home or taking the dog for a walk. But expect a rate increase at renewal time -- or even a policy nonrenewal -- after a dog bite claim.

Do I need receipts for a renters insurance claim?

You generally do not need receipts to file a renters insurance claim. However, it’s a good idea to keep receipts for expensive items and have a home inventory to help speed up the claims process.

Keep in mind, renters insurance usually has sub-limits for individual items and groups of items, like jewelry and musical instruments. For example, a policy might only cover up to $1,500 for stolen jewelry. If you have an engagement ring worth $5,000, you won’t be covered for the ring’s total replacement cost. Consider getting “scheduled personal property” insurance for valuable items.

How much renters insurance should I carry?

Select a policy limit that would allow you to replace all of your belongings in a worst-case scenario, like a fire or tornado. A home inventory list can help you decide how much coverage you need, and your insurance agent can also help with an estimate.

You will generally choose between “actual cash value” or “replacement cost value” for your policy. Here’s the difference between the two.

Renters insurance property damage coverage

Types of renters insurance payment How it works
Actual cash value 
  • Pays for items at their current value.
  • Takes depreciation into account.
  • Example: If your 10-year old living set is destroyed, you’ll be compensated for a 10-year old living room set.
Replacement cost value 
  • Pays for new items that are of “like kind and quality.”
  •  Example: If your 10-year old living set is destroyed, you’ll be compensated for a new set.