Is renters insurance required?

Last updated: April 2022

Renters insurance isn’t legally required, but a landlord can require tenants to have a renters policy. Many landlords want tenants to be insured to help avoid potential disputes if, say, their belongings are damaged while on the property, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).If you’re required to have renters insurance, it would be your responsibility to shop for and purchase coverage.

Here are a few things to consider if your landlord requires you to have a renters insurance policy — and why you may want to consider renters insurance even if it's not required.

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Doesn't my landlord have insurance?

Landlord insurance policies typically provide coverage for structural damage to the building. However, landlord policies typically do not extend coverage to renters' personal property. If your television is stolen or your furniture is destroyed in a fire, your landlord's insurance likely won't cover the costs of replacing these items.

Landlord insurance will not typically cover damage you cause to the building. For example, you may be responsible for repairs if you accidentally start a kitchen fire.

Some landlord policies, however, will cover liability for another person's injuries on the property including medical protection to help pay for reasonable and necessary medical expenses if someone is injured on the property.

How does renters insurance help protect me?

While your landlord's insurance may help pay to repair the building after a covered incident, such as a hailstorm or fire, renters insurance typically offers protections you won’t find in a landlord policy, says the III. Here’s what you’ll typically find in a renters policy:

Personal property coverage

This coverage may help pay to replace your personal belongings if they're stolen or damaged by a covered incident. For instance, if your rental unit is damaged by fire, renters personal property coverage may help to repair or replace damaged belongings, like furniture and clothing.

Liability coverage

If you’re found legally responsible for a visitor’s injuries or damage to someone else’s property, renters liability coverage could help cover the costs. For example, if you accidentally leave the bathtub running and the flowing water ruins the apartment below, this coverage may help cover the cost of repairs.

Additional living expenses coverage

If your apartment building is damaged by a covered incident and temporarily uninhabitable, additional living expenses coverage may help pay for temporary costs like hotel bills.

Keep in mind that these coverages will likely have limits, the maximum amount of money an insurer will pay for a covered loss, as defined in your policy. You'll also need to. This is the amount you agree to pay before your coverage kicks in to pay for a claim. choose a deductible. This is the amount you agree to pay before your coverage kicks in to pay for a claim.

How much renters insurance do I need?

When you're deciding how much renters insurance to buy, think about the value of your belongings. For instance, do you know how much money you would need to replace your electronics, clothing and furniture if they were destroyed? Creating an inventory of your possessions is a good way to help document what you own and how much it's worth, the Insurance Information Institute (III), says. That way, you’ll be better able to choose the right amount of protection.

As you compare renters insurance quotes, keep in mind that the coverages, coverage limits and deductibles you choose affect how much you pay for a policy. Higher coverage limits equal higher premiums but more protection. And higher deductibles equal lower premiums – but you’d have to pay more out of pocket during a claim.

Do I need renters insurance if I don’t own much?

Even if you think you don't own much, renters insurance may be a good idea. Could you afford to replace your stuff if it were stolen or damaged by a fire or windstorm? The personal property coverage in a renters insurance policy may help with those costs.

Plus, you may find that the value of all your shoes, books, electronics and other belongings really add up. Once you have an idea of how much your stuff is worth, you may decide renters insurance provides a good safety net.

Having your own renters insurance policy, in addition to the coverage that your landlord's insurance policy provides, can help prevent a bad situation from becoming worse. And you may have some peace of mind knowing that you have helped protect yourself from the unexpected.