Does homeowners or renters insurance cover lost items?

Last updated: January 1

You are headed on vacation to the Caribbean and realize two hours into your flight that you left your camera under a chair in the airport. When you land, you call the airport and the airline, but your camera is nowhere to be found. That may leave you wondering whether your homeowners insurance or renters insurance will cover the loss.

Typically, the standard coverage included in a homeowners, condo or renters insurance policy does not cover the cost of lost items. Instead, those policies help cover specific risks, known as perils. So, while a camera or other items you own may be covered if they are stolen or damaged in a fire, that coverage typically won't extend to belongings that you lose or misplace.

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Limits and deductibles

Suppose your camera is stolen from your hotel room. Because theft is typically a covered peril, your homeowners or renters insurance may help pay to replace the stolen camera. Keep in mind that your policy's limits may be lower if the loss occurs while you're away from home with your belongings (this is sometimes called "off-premises personal property coverage"). Also remember that you'll likely need to pay your personal property coverage deductible toward a covered claim.

Finally, it's important to note that some valuable items, such as jewelry, may have lower limits for theft losses than other covered perils. Check your policy or call your agent with any questions about your coverage limits.

Scheduled personal property may help cover the cost of lost items

You may be able to add scheduled personal property coverage to your homeowners or renters insurance policy to help protect against lost items. Scheduled personal property is an optional coverage that you pay an extra premium for, on top of your standard personal property coverage. It allows you to "schedule," and increase coverage for, certain valuable belongings.

Scheduled items — expensive jewelry, art, musical instruments, firearms or cameras for instance — may be protected against additional risks, such as accidental loss. And higher limits are available for scheduled jewelry and firearms than the limits typically found in a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy.

You will likely need to get a professional appraisal in order to purchase scheduled personal property coverage. And, when you purchase coverage, you'll likely have to select a deductible. A deductible is your share of a covered claim.

No one wants to experience a personal property loss, whether it's the result of accidentally leaving a belonging behind or a situation that's out of your control. Talk with your insurance agent to learn what kind of coverage you have in place and whether you may benefit from additional protections. Then, you can proceed with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have safeguards in place should the unexpected occur.