Types of damage and loss usually covered by renter’s insurance

Renter’s insurance, like auto insurance, gives you protection against damage or loss to your personal property.  Your landlord should provide insurance against the damage to the physical structure, but your belongings inside the building are your responsibility.  Often landlords require renter’s insurance before moving in.

You will find when looking for renter’s insurance some types of damage and loss is covered while other types are not.  These causes of loss and/or damage are most commonly covered:  fire and smoke;  theft and vandalism;  natural occurrences such as hail, windstorm, lightning, weight of ice, snow or sleet;  explosion; water-related damage from home utilities;  vehicles and aircraft; falling objects and breaking glass; and  riot or civil disorder.

Not on that list are floods and earthquakes.  Persons living in areas that are prone to those types of disasters will need to buy a separate policy or have a rider attached to the renter’s policy. In coastal areas damages from hurricanes may not be covered.

An important part of your renter’s insurance policy is the liability protection which is standard on most policies.  Say a friend visiting you slips on a throw rug in your apartment and falls breaking a leg.  Your liability for that is covered up to a certain limit stated in your policy. If they sue you and win a court judgment that is also covered up to the policy’s limit.

You will find that if your apartment becomes unlivable due to fire or other covered damage, your renter’s insurance will pay for you to live in a different place until your apartment becomes livable again.  Of course, there are limits of up to what is considered a reasonable time period.

Ask if your policy has waterbed liability coverage which is standard in most policies. That would be important to have if your waterbed bursts and floods not only yours, but the apartment below you as well.

When talking with your insurance agent, be sure to list any items of special value such as electronics, jewelry or antiques. It may be necessary to purchase a separate rider for unusually expensive items otherwise, if you have a loss, you may not be able to recover for those.

Be sure to ask when looking for a policy whether you will receive actual cash value or replacement cost coverage should a loss occur.  Actual cash value will pay for the value of the property at the time it was lost or damaged.  However, replacement cost coverage will pay what it costs to replace the item.

It is a good idea to take inventory of your personal property when you purchase renter’s insurance.  Video tape or photograph each room of your house or apartment to have a record of what it contains.  This will help avoid any disputes with the insurance company that might arise.  Keep the record in a safe place such as a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.