What is renter’s insurance and why do you need it?

Published online: Jan 18, 2022 / Renters

It can be a long and drawn-out process to find the perfect place to live with all the amenities you are looking for, the perfect location, going through the background check, etc.

And finally, it is time to move your belongings to your newly rented apartment or home! This begins the process of getting comfortable in this new space, making the environment your own, and eventually getting to the often dreaded part of unpacking.

Often overlooked when moving into a new rental space is renter’s insurance, which we’ll break down in detail throughout this article.

What is renter’s insurance?

The owner of the building is required to have insurance covering the home or building, however, the property owner is not responsible for anything that happens to any of the items or property that belongs to the tenants inside the building.
Renter’s insurance is an insurance policy that provides liability insurance and protection for the renter’s personal belongings, but that does not cover the actual building structure—which is where the homeowner’s property policy comes into play.

Renter’s insurance protects your personal property inside the rental, and covers a variety of incidents, and will pay you for any lost, damaged, or destroyed items. Also, if anyone is injured while on the property, it can help protect you from liability.

Why do you need renter's insurance?

Some landlords and complexes do not require the tenants to have renter’s insurance. However, it is strongly recommended that you do obtain it. First, it is often a fraction of the cost compared to the homeowner’s insurance. Second, the purpose of renter’s insurance is to cover any losses to your personal property and provide you with liability coverage in case of fire, vandalism, or theft at the location.

What does renter's insurance cover?

There are a variety of emergencies or issues that can happen to you as a renter throughout your time at a property:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Fire
  • Smoke damage
  • Lightning strikes
  • Explosions
  • Hail or windstorm
  • Plumbing malfunction
  • Some water damage

If your items are ruined by an issue covered by your renter’s insurance, the insurance company will send out an adjuster to assess the situation and cover the cost of the damage up to the limits stated in the policy.

If the property is no longer in a state that is livable due to a covered event, the renter’s policy will cover costs exceeding your normal living expenses.

If an accident happens inside your rental space, the policy will protect you against legal liability of an accident, such as medical bills and lost wages of a guest who may have been injured at the property.

Living in spaces such as apartment buildings, other units might have issues or cause damages that affect your apartment at no fault of your own. The renter’s insurance will cover you in case of nearby incidents that inadvertently affect your unit.

Having an active renter’s insurance policy also allows you to add on any additional coverage that you might find beneficial. Additionally offered, medical protection coverage for anyone injured on-site, credit card fraud coverage if someone steals your credit card, identity fraud coverage if someone attempts to steal your identity, as well as “property of others” coverage which replaces the belongings of others that may have been in the residence at time of the incident are available through most plans. Also, extra coverage may be necessary for the following items that are not covered by a standard renter’s insurance policy.

What is not covered by renter's insurance?

Valuables - Any valuables, such as jewelry, collectible items, firearms, some car and computer equipment, etc., above your listed policy limits will not be covered under a renter’s policy, and would require additional policies or higher coverage limits for these types of items.

Home Business - Additional coverage may be necessary for items such as company-issued laptops, printers, and other equipment, as these might be covered under the companies insurance policies and not the renter’s insurance. If you work out of a home office, be sure to inquire with your insurance company, as well as your company, to see what policies and coverages might be in place or may need to be purchased.

Motorized vehicles - While personal items that are normally kept inside a vehicle may be covered, renter’s insurance will not cover watercraft vehicles that might be parked on the property, like boats, jet skis, etc. A separate policy will be required for these types of investments.

Flooding - Some water related damage is covered. For example, if water is leaking through the ceiling from an apartment upstairs, you’ll likely be covered. However, any type of flooding or extraneous water-related damage may require additional coverage to be purchased.

Best way to obtain renter's insurance

The easiest way to purchase a renter’s insurance policy is to contact the company you already have car insurance or another policy with. They may be able to offer a discount for being an existing customer or a cheaper price for having multiple policies.

Most companies are online, and you can request a quote from a few different companies to compare policies and see which gives you the best coverage for your situation.

There are two choices to decide between for coverage, either replacement cost or actual cash value (ACV). ACV policies will only pay for what an item was worth at the time it was destroyed.

Replacement cost coverage will be a more expensive policy, however, it will have a larger payout to purchase a new item.

When you are ready to purchase, simply pay online and print out your policy.

Once a policy is purchased

If you ever need to request a claim on your renter’s insurance policy, the adjuster will need to know how much your items are worth. At first, this seems like a simple question to answer, but adding up the number of everyday items in your possession can become an overwhelming task.

It is a good idea to take photos and videos of your rental property and be sure to include your most valuable and noteworthy belongings. In case of damage, you will have a basic record of everything, allowing you to make sure you don’t miss anything in your claim.


Are you looking for a rental in Southeast Idaho? We manage rental properties in Idaho Falls, Ammon, Blackfoot, Chubbuck, and surrounding areas as well as over in the Meridian and Boise area. Check out our available rentals today