What is Renter's Insurance and Do I Need It?

If you're reading this then you are probably part of the 33.1% of Americans who rent. Imagine that you come home after a long day of work and find your apartment building being surrounded by firetrucks because the neighbor who lives upstairs left their stove on and the entire building caught on fire. If the building burns to the ground, who will pay for your belongings? Where will you stay? This may seem unlikely to happen to you, but for me in August of last year this was a reality. Luckily for me, I was covered. Are you?

Whether you've never even heard of renter's insurance or you already have purchased a policy and are looking to better understand it, this post has you covered.

All renters should consider purchasing a renter's insurance policy. Here are the top three areas of coverage that you need to know about. There may be other parts to your policy, or other endorsements that you can add on but it is vital that at a minimum, you understand these top three categories.

Personal Property Coverage 

Personal property coverage, like the name would suggest, covers your personal property in the event that it is damaged, destroyed, lost, or stolen. This would include your belongings such as things like clothing, furniture, dishes, and electronics.

High Valued Items

An important thing to note is that there are certain limits of coverage on high valued items, such as jewelry and fine arts. In order to ensure coverage for things like this you would have to schedule them separately on your policy and pay an increased premium. A good rule of thumb would be to specifically ask your insurance agent about any item that you own worth more than $1000 to make sure that you have the proper coverage. 

Replacement Cost

Another key thing to pay attention to in regards to your personal property coverage is whether you are covered for replacement cost or not. Replacement cost coverage means that you will be covered for the full amount you paid for an item. For example if you paid $1500 for your couch, you would be covered for the full $1500 and could go purchase a new one. On the other hand, if you were not covered for replacement cost then you would only be covered for the depreciated value of an item. Using the same couch example as before, if your couch was 3 years old then you may find yourself searching for used couches on Craigslist with a substantially smaller couch allowance.

Personal Liability Coverage 

Personal liability coverage is another important part of your renter’s insurance policy. This covers you against claims or lawsuits that result from property damage or bodily injury to others while they are on your rented property. With most insurance companies you can also add personal injury coverage to your personal liability which will cover you for things such as libel and slander lawsuits. With the prevalence of social media these types of lawsuits have become much more common. 

Loss of Use 

Possibly one of the most important yet least understood parts of a renter’s insurance policy is loss of use coverage. Loss of use covers living expenses that could be incurred due to a claim. For example if your apartment catches on fire and is damaged to the point that you can no longer live there, then this coverage will cover the cost of getting a hotel or some other temporary living expenses. Loss of use coverage will also cover expenses such as food if you were forced to eat out as a result of damage to your kitchen. 

Filing a Claim

Buying the right renter's insurance policy is a great start but the road doesn't end there. There are a two addition steps that you can take right now which you will be grateful you did in the event that you need to make a claim.

First, I suggest finding the right insurance agent. Use a professional agent who you trust and who is readily available when you call or email them. This will be the person holding your hand throughout any claims. 

Second, document your belongings. Spend 10 minutes walking around your apartment taking pictures of anything you might want replaced if the roof caved in tomorrow. Also, take pictures of any receipts you may have. Email them to yourself so you have them even if your phone and computer are among the damaged property.

This is just a brief overview of some of the most important parts of a renter’s insurance policy. As I mentioned before, every company offers different types of coverage that you could add onto an insurance policy but the ones listed here are pretty universal. If you have any questions or if you would like more information about renter’s insurance feel free to give me a call at 508-944-0709 or send me an email at jsmallinsurance@outlook.com.

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Please note that every policy is different and for specific information about what you personally are and are not covered for, please refer directly to your own policy and your own insurance agent.


Jay Small is an experienced insurance agent licensed in the state of Massachusetts. He services people all over the state and is based in Framingham. Jay is able to use his expertise to cover everything from your car to your life and is never too busy for new customers. In his free time he likes to play guitar, train martial arts and lift weights. You can find out more by connecting with him professionally on LinkedIn.

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