Updated: March 2017
Q: I move often. What should I know about renters insurance?
A: If you have a renters insurance policy and you move, you usually don't need to purchase a new policy if you move within the state, as your existing coverage should travel with you, says David Petri, an Allstate agency owner in El Cajon, California. “You do need to give your insurance company your new address each time you relocate, and your premiums might adjust up or down a bit depending on where you’ll be living,” Petri says.
Renters insurance can benefit anyone who rents a home and wants to protect their property, regardless of how often they move.
While some renters stay in one place for extended periods, others move from city to city frequently for work, or spend lengths of time away from their primary rental home due to business travel. Business travelers who already have a renters insurance policy will typically receive a limited amount of personal property coverage while they are away from their primary home. You agent can answer questions about limits that may apply in these situations.
College students who move each year, or switch back and forth between home and school, can also benefit from renters insurance. They can buy insurance policies to help protect them while they live in off-campus apartments or houses.
Renters insurance policies usually include liability and personal property coverage.
Personal property coverage. Renters insurance can help protect your belongings, from your clothes to your laptop, in the event that your property is stolen or destroyed in a covered event.
If your home was burglarized or items were damaged in a covered incident, Petri says this coverage would help you replace your property up to the limits stated in your policy.
In the case of an incident that isn’t your fault — for instance, a leak from another apartment that ruins your couch or electronics — the landlord’s or other tenant’s insurance policy might help cover your losses. But if their insurance isn’t enough, your own renters insurance may help reimburse you, says Petri.
“Many of my clients say, ‘Because I move so often, I don’t really own much. Do I really need insurance?’” says Petri. “Then we start adding up the cost of each shirt, each pair of expensive jeans, that nice laptop, and so on. If they had to replace those items themselves, it could get very expensive, very quickly.”
"And contrary to popular belief, your auto insurance policy doesn’t cover items that are stolen or damaged while in your car — but renters insurance does,” he says.
Keep in mind that limits will apply to both types of coverage, and there may also be limits for specific categories of belongings. For instance, your policy's property coverage might protect you for up to $20,000 in losses, but might cap your reimbursement for jewelry at $1,000.
Your agent can share options for increasing your coverage limits or adding a scheduled personal property endorsement. “That means buying separate, additional insurance for the item and proving its value with a sales receipt or certified appraisal,” explains Petri. Many renters schedule items like expensive artwork and jewelry.
Liability coverage. This coverage, says Petri, can help pay for physical damage you caused to your rented place as the result of an accident — if, for example, your candle causes a fire.
“In many cases, landlords now require you to show proof of your renters insurance before they’ll lease to you, because they want to reap the benefit of your liability coverage if you unintentionally damage their property,” Petri says.
Again, coverage limits will apply. Check your policy or contact your insurance agent to learn about the coverages provided by your specific policy.
Your agent can help you choose the coverages that fit your needs.