Why do I need renters insurance, and what does it cover?
You might be tempted to pass on renters insurance. After all, you don’t own the place you’re living in - so what do you really need to worry about?
Consider the story of Marble member Sarah in her youth: One evening, a young and curious Sarah decided to see what would happen if she plugged the bathtub drain while running the faucet (we’ve all wondered!). Unsurprisingly, the water soon spilled over the edges of the tub and pooled across the tiled floor. What Sarah didn’t know was that the water was also leaking through her downstairs neighbor’s ceiling. Needless to say, they weren’t too pleased. And neither were Sarah’s parents, who ended up having to pay for the damage. A perfect use case for renters insurance!
Like the name suggests, renters insurance is for renters. (It can also be called tenants insurance or an HO-4 policy.) Similar to homeowners insurance, renters insurance protects your personal belongings and provides liability coverage if you live in a house, condo, or apartment that you don’t own.
Unlike homeowners insurance, these policies do not cover damage to a building’s structure. That’s for the landlord to deal with (a perk of renting!). As such, renters insurance policies are often quite affordable.
Be aware that while renters insurance isn’t legally required, some landlords do want proof of coverage before they will rent to you.
There are a number of reasons to get renters insurance. For one thing, it’s expensive to replace your things if they’ve been damaged or stolen. Even if nothing you own is worth as much as Drake’s Birkin bag collection, your everyday items likely add up to more than you think, and would still be costly to replace.
Plus, renters coverage can extend beyond your four walls: if your laptop is stolen from a coffee shop, for example, some policies will help to reimburse you, provided that you’ve met your deductible.
Most renters insurance policies will compensate you for the loss or damage to personal belongings that results from 16 specific perils:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Volcanic eruption (yes, really)
- A falling object
- Ice, snow, or sleet
- Water overflow or accidental discharge of water or steam from within certain household systems or appliances
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of certain household systems like air conditioners or hot water heaters
- Freezing of certain household systems or appliances
- Certain sudden, accidental damage from artificially generated electric currents
To be extra clear, that means there are certain perils (like earthquakes and mudslides) that are excluded and would require the purchase of additional insurance.
Renters insurance also protects more than just your possessions; it can also protect you. If damage to your building forces you out of your home, renters insurance will often cover the expenses of living in a hotel for a period of time.
And if your dog happens to bite someone, or a guest bangs their head inside your apartment, it can help to offset any costs if you’re found to be responsible.
Remember our friend Sarah? Well, she’s all grown up and now rents her own apartment. But unlike her parents, she has her renters insurance policy firmly in place. While she doesn’t plan to flood her bathtub any time soon, Sarah knows that it’s better to be prepared. And at Marble, we tend to agree, which is why we always encourage our members to look into renters insurance.