By Amy DeYoung
Updated Nov 22, 2022
Nobody wants to pay an unnecessary bill. On average, renters insurance is $15 to $20 per month, at least $180 to $240 annually. This amount will vary based on your location, insurance provider, coverage, your apartment or rented home, and the value of your belongings.
It’s safe to say that nobody wants to spend a couple of hundred extra dollars each year unless it offers valuable financial protection.
So, what does renters insurance cover and not cover? Here are the nine things renters insurance won’t cover.
Typically, renters insurance only covers your personal belongings, not your roommate’s or family’s belongings. If you want their personal belongings to be protected, encourage them to purchase their own renters insurance policy or add their name to your policy.
Are you running your business at home or working from home? Look into your renters insurance policy to check if your business items or equipment, such as your work computer, office supplies, or other business items you store at home, are covered under your policy.
Many renters are surprised that damages from natural disasters are not typically covered under the natural disaster policy section within their renters insurance. Usually, renters insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes, flooding, or sinkholes.
If you’re in an area where these natural disasters are common, look into additional coverage plans, such as flood insurance or earthquake coverage for property damage in the case of a flood or earthquake.
Certain natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and tornados, are typically covered. Other common weather events, like windstorms and lightning damage, are usually covered. However, we recommend you always double-check with your insurance company to verify that your renters policy covers these disasters.
Renters insurance is based on an estimate of the items in your home. Most insurance companies will have you complete a home inventory and assessment of the worth of your belongings.
Expensive items, like jewelry, musical instruments, specialty electronics, or artwork, may hit a policy limit. For example, jewelry over $2,000 in value or electronic items that cost more than $2,500 are typically excluded from renters insurance policies. If you have precious items, ask about purchasing add-on coverage for them.
You’ll also want to have expensive items professionally appraised for their actual cash value, which is typically what the renters insurance will reimburse you for. A professional appraisal ensures that the renters insurance company can’t argue that your item is worth less when it comes time for you to be reimbursed.
Generally, insurance will not cover damages caused by your pet. Bodily harm caused by dog bites is not covered under renters insurance but may be covered under renters liability insurance or personal liability coverage. Medical expenses are not included as a covered loss for renters insurance because the insurance is for your personal belongings, not your health or the health of others in your rental unit. Legal fees incurred if you’re sued after your dog bites someone would also be excluded from your policy since this has nothing to do with your personal belongings.
Another thing to watch out for is that certain rental insurers don’t offer coverage for specific dog breeds, such as pit bull or bully breeds. Exotic pets are unlikely to be covered under your policy. The property damage caused by your pet will not include your roommate’s or guest’s items unless they’re on the policy.
In general, it’s best to have additional personal liability coverage if you’re concerned about damages that your pet could cause.
Pest-related damages, such as damage from vermin, termites, or bed bugs, are typically not covered. Unfortunately, renters insurance does not cover these damages to your rental unit or personal items because this falls under preventable extra costs.
The general idea is that infestations create many problems around the home, and you should notice these damages early on and take action to stop the infestation before it spreads throughout your home.
In the case of pests, take regular preventative measures against infestations like keeping your home tidy, sealing up entry points, and throwing away clutter that pests may hide in to minimize the risk of this extra cost and damage to your personal items.
Renters insurance protects your personal belongings, but only inside your rental unit. For example, if your car is damaged or broken into in your apartment complex’s parking garage, your insurer would not cover the damages or replacement cost.
In this example, an excellent comprehensive car insurance or auto insurance plan would provide your personal belongings with this additional coverage.
Many renters mistakenly think that all types of water damage, including flood damage, to their personal belongings, are covered. However, few companies offer flood damage coverage, especially without purchasing additional coverage.
On the other hand, renters insurance may cover water damage from burst pipes or if water enters your home after a vicious storm or hurricane hits. Usually, it’s only water damage from flooding, which is entirely excluded from renters insurance coverage. 9. Precious or Expensive Items That You Don’t Document
Many renters are shocked to discover that you must prove an item’s existence and actual cash value to receive your claim payment after a covered event.
When you sign up for renters insurance, itemize your entire home and take photos of precious and expensive items. Store these photos and notes online in the cloud in case your computer or backup drive is taken or damaged.
Take time to read your policy carefully, and don’t hesitate to ask your insurance policy agent how you should document a particular item’s worth.
With all these exceptions, you may wonder if renters insurance is even worth it.
Generally speaking, renters insurance is still worth it because it covers common financial losses like damages from burst pipes or theft. The small monthly fee will more than make up for itself in the case of a covered peril. You’ll also want to reference your lease to see if your landlord requires renters insurance, as this is a common stipulation in rental unit leases.
Before selecting a renters insurance policy, be sure to shop around for different renters insurance quotes. Take time to choose between providers, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about the policy in question and negotiate a better insurance rate.
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