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Choosing a Renters Insurance Policy


If your landlord doesn’t live on their rental property it’s likely they have a landlord’s insurance policy. This will cover the structure and their financial interest in it, but won't cover you in any way.

A renters insurance policy will cover your stuff, medical bills in case anything happens to you or a guest, and the cost of a hotel if you lose access to your rental for any reason. Policies usually cost around $100 per year.

If you’re thinking about buying a renters insurance policy, you’re probably wondering:

What’s covered and what isn’t covered?
What can you add or change?
Who’s covered and who isn’t covered?
What happens if I go away?
What determines the price?
Are they all the same?

What's covered and what isn't covered?

There are four categories of coverage for any renters insurance policy:

Personal belongings: Personal belongings coverage means that, if for some reason, anything you own is damaged on the property, you will be repaid the value of the damage. Coverage ranges from $6,000 to $1 million.

Personal liability: Personal liability coverage protects you the same way that liability coverage protects landlords. If you get injured on the property, your medical costs may be covered, and any income you missed due to the injury may be paid out to you.

Loss of use: Loss of use coverage, also called additional expenses coverage, ensures that if your home is damaged and is being repaired as a part of a claim on the insurance policy, you will be paid for any alternative accommodations you book. If the roof is being fixed and you can’t sleep in your bedroom, they’ll cover the cost of a hotel.

Medical payments to others: Almost all standard renters insurance policies include coverage for medical payments to others. This coverage protects you if a situation were to arise where someone was injured in your rental unit and sought compensation for medical bills from you.

What can you add or change?

Your deductible:You choose and alter your deductible amount. This works just like any other insurance policy - it’s the amount that your claim has to exceed in order for you to receive a payout. For example, if your deductible is $500 and someone steals your $600 guitar, you will receive $100 from your insurance company. The standard deductible for renters insurance is $500.

Your stuff's value:You can choose the amount of personal property coverage that you get and this will also affect your monthly premium. The standard range is between $10,000 and $100,000.

Extras:You can also add certain coverages to your policy in exchange for paying a higher price. Examples include coverage that protects you while you’re traveling - if a hotel tried to hold you responsible to damage to a room for example - and protection against identity theft.

Who is covered?

Renters insurance cover your spouse and family members - anyone related to you by marriage, blood, or legal adoption.

No matter what kind of coverage you choose, it won’t cover your roommates. Any roommate you have will need to get their own policy to cover their stuff. You could always add them as an “additionally insured” for an extra cost, but it is usually cheaper for them to just get their own policy.

What happens to my renters insurance if I move or go away?

One benefit of renters insurance is that it generally moves with you as long as you are staying in the same state. You will need to let your insurance provider know your new address, but you won’t have to apply for a new policy.

If you go away and leave stuff in your apartment that you want to remain covered, then make sure this is part of the policy you buy. If you get a plan with All State or State Farm, your items will still be covered as long as you let the insurance company know you’ll be living somewhere else (which you can do simply by calling, no proof of address needed). Any valuables your subtenant brings into your unit will not be covered by your policy.

If you have Lemonade or Jetty, your items will not be covered during the sublet.

What determines how much I pay for renters insurance?

There are multiple factors that determine the amount you will pay monthly for renters insurance.

Your building: The age of your building, it’s proximity to bodies of water and how close it is to a fire department make a difference. Insurance companies offer you the opportunity to choose the amount of coverage you want for certain situations.

What’s getting covered: Any insurance provider will ask you to provide the estimated value of the items you want to protect in your rental unit. The more expensive your belongings, the higher your monthly payment will be.

Your deductible: You can choose the amount of your deductible. The higher your deductible, the less your monthly rate will be.

Where should I get my renters insurance?

There are many providers out there all vying for you attention. You'll find the old guard - All State and State Farm, among others - and a couple of upstarts - Lemonade or Jetty.

We’ve compared them here to help you get the coverage you need at the price you want to pay.

Lemonade

Lemonade stands out because its cheapest plan is very cheap, and you don't have to talk to a human to get a policy (they made a bot). The lowest deductible is $250, which comes in handy if your valuables aren't very pricey and you want a low threshold for a payout. They also offer additional coverage for these specific categories: jewelry, fine art, bikes, cameras, musical instruments.

Watch out for that low loss of use coverage, though. If anything happens to your building or apartment Lemonade is not going to cover you as well as some of it's competitors.

Oh, and they won't cover your stuff or space while you sublet. Full stop.

Information you must provide to get a quote: Email address

Cheapest plan: $5 a month

Deductible range: $250 to $2,500

Personal property range: $10,000 to $100,000

Personal liability: $100,000

Loss of use: $6,000

Medical payments to others: $1,000

Allstate

Allstate gives every policy holder a local agent to answer your questions, and they also built a digital locker app that is actually pretty useful for keeping track of what you want to protect. They offer discounts for setting up automatic payments (5% off) or going a year without making a claim (25% off)

The best thing about Allstate is their loss of use coverage - according to one of their sales representatives, they’ll put you up in a three or four star hotel for a year if you make a loss of use claim. Also, they will cover your stuff and space even while you're off subletting.

Be forewarned - you request a quote from Allstate and don't buy a policy, they will call you every day for at least two weeks.

Information you must provide to get a quote: Email address, phone number, employment status, marital status, consent to being contacted about your quote

Cheapest plan: $27 a month with $23 down payment

Deductible range: $250-$1,000

Personal property range: $10,000 to $100,000

Personal liability: $100,000

Loss of use: one year in a hotel

Medical payments to others: $1,000

State Farm

State Farm has the highest personal property coverage - you can insure items worth up to $1 million. Discounts for already having a State Farm policy or having burglar alarms.

State Farm will cover your stuff and space even while you're off subletting.

Information you must provide to get a quote: Email address, social security number

Cheapest plan: $11 a month

Deductible range: $500-$2,000

Personal property range: $10,000-$1,000,000

Personal liability: $100,000-$1,000,000

Loss of use: 12 months

Medical payments to others: $1,000-$10,000

Jetty

Jetty has the lowest deductible and personal property coverage, and they also offer additional coverage for electronics, valuables, and (yep!) bedbug protection.

Information you must provide to get a quote: Email address, social security number

Cheapest plan: $8 a month

Deductible range: $100-$2,500

Personal property range: $6,000-$250,000

Personal liability: $100,000-$500,000

Loss of use: $3,000-$23,000

Medical payments to others: $1,000-$5,000


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