What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Renters insurance typically covers your personal belongings, liability protection, and additional living expenses if your rental home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event, such as a fire or theft.

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

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Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

What does renters insurance cover?

Renters insurance covers you, your liability, and your belongings in the event of a covered loss. Renters insurance coverage is broken down into four coverage types: personal property coverage, personal liability, additional living expenses and medical payments insurance. See an overview of each main coverage type below.

What's Covered By Each Renters Insurance Type
Coverage Type What's Covered What's Not Covered Common Coverage Limit
Personal property coverage Clothing, furniture, art, electronics or anything else owned in a rental house or apartment up to your policy's limit. Losses exceeding your total personal property limit and sub-limits. See our list of excluded possessions here. Variable
Liability coverage Property damage and bodily injury to another person and their medical expenses Property damage and bodily injury to you or members of your household or your property $100,000
Medical payments coverage Medical expenses of an injured party Medical expenses of an injured party if they are the insured $1,000
Additional living expenses Hotel bills, transportation, meals Long-term housing costs beyond policy limits $3,000-$5,000

Read on for more information on what is and isn't covered by your renters insurance policy.

What incidents does renters insurance protect against?

Below is a list of incidents and perils typically covered — and not covered — by renters insurance policies. 

What's Covered vs. What's Not Covered by Renters Insurance
Covered by Renters Insurance Not Covered by Renters Insurance
Fire and lightning Ordinance of law
Wind and hailstorm Earth movement
Explosion Water (flood damage)
Riot or civil commotion Damage caused by power failure
Aircraft Neglect
Vehicles War
Smoke Nuclear hazard
Vandalism or malicious mischief Intentional loss
Falling object Wear and tear
Weight of ice, snow, or sleet  
Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam*  
Freezing of HVAC system  
Volcanic eruption  

*Damage from plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or automatic sprinkler system.

Renters policy coverages explained

Below we break down each of the 4 main parts of your renters policy to give you a better idea of how it protects you. Along with definitions of some common insurance terms, you'll also find tips on how to set your coverage limits for each type of coverage.


1. Personal property coverage

Renters insurance covers personal belongings up to a predetermined coverage limit. The amount of renters coverage is defined by the insurance policy and may total 10% of the policy's personal liability coverage. For example, a policy with $100,000 of liability coverage would include $10,000 of personal property coverage. However, many insurers allow more flexibility to policyholders to choose their coverage limits that best suit their needs. 

While "personal property" is kind of a vague term, it typically refers to clothing, furniture, art, electronics or anything else owned in a rental house or apartment. This coverage may come with restrictions or special limits.

Your policy documents will detail these restrictions, but you'll find some of the more common limits listed below.

items in boxes

Personal property not covered by renters insurance:

The following items of personal property are typically excluded from renters coverage, regardless of the cause of damage.

  • Animals, birds, or fish
  • Motor vehicles and any equipment used solely in the vehicle
  • Aircrafts
  • Watercrafts
  • Property of anyone living in the residence, but not on the policy
  • The physical structure of the rental unit
Personal property insurance sub-limits
Sub-limit Property Limitations
$200 Money, coins, gold  
$1,500 Jewelry, watches, furs Theft only
$1,500 Watercraft, trailers Theft only
$2,500 Firearms  
$2,500 Silverware  
$2,500 Business property On-premises
$500 Business property Off-premises
Varies Electronics  

On- and off-premises refers to the address listed on the policy. Renters insurance partially covers the insured party away from their rental property. Off-premises coverage typically only protects against theft. See our in-depth guide to personal property insurance here.


2. Renters insurance liability protection

In the same way that personal property protects belongings, liability coverage protects you. If you cause bodily injury or damage someone’s personal property, liability coverage can cover the costs — including legal fees. Liability insurance covers damages up to the liability policy limit, which is variable. A typical liability limit is $100,000. This coverage follows the insured party around the world at the same coverage amount. For more details, see our guide discussing how your renters insurance liability coverage keeps you protected.


3. Medical payments coverage renters insurance

Medical payments coverage pays for the medical expenses of an injured party — not the insured — if the injury occurs on the insured’s rental property or as a result of the insured party’s actions. The medical payments coverage limit — which may vary — exists on a per-person basis. This is supposed to help avoid lawsuits over medical payments. A typical limit is $1,000. See the table below for a general list of what is and isn't covered by medical payments coverage. 

What's Covered vs. What's Not Covered by Renters Insurance Medical Coverage
Covered by Renters Insurance Medpay NOT Covered by Renters Insurance Medpay
Medical bills and payments Any damages deemed intentional
Surgical costs Damages suffered by an employee working for the insured party's business
Cost of X-rays Injuries suffered in relation to watercraft, vehicles or war
Dental procedures
Ambulance and hospital fees
Nursing care
Prosthetic devices
Funeral services


4. Additional living expenses renters insurance

If the apartment or house you rent is deemed unlivable as a result of a covered loss, additional living expense coverage will cover the costs of residing elsewhere, up to the policy's coverage limits. Depending on the insurance provider, this coverage could be referred to as "loss of use." This typically covers hotel bills, costs related to transportation, and — in some cases — meals.

Please Note: Your insurer may have stipulations regarding loss of use coverage, restricting how it can be used. Please check your policy documents or inquire with an insurance agent for more details.

How much renters insurance do I need?

The Zebra recommends the following coverage options for the average person in their 20s living alone:

  • $15,000 to $25,000 of personal property coverage*
  • $100,000 of liability coverage
  • $1,500 of portable electronic coverages
  • $1,000 of medical bills/payments to others (minimum amount required)
  • Minimum coverage for loss of use

*The Zebra strongly recommends conducting a detailed home inventory to determine the total value of your possessions before choosing a personal property limit. "Mental math" estimates can lead to you choosing too low of a personal property limit, forcing you to pay out of pocket to replace some of your personal property should it be damaged, destroyed, or stolen.


Home inventory help

Making a home inventory is a crucial step in determining how much renters insurance you need. See our home inventory tips for renters. We provide guidelines for creating a home inventory manually as well as a list of helpful apps for IOS and Android for those who wish to further streamline the process.

See average annual rates by personal property limit below:

  • 25K Personal Property Limit:  $150/year
  • 50K Personal Property Limit:  $218/year

If you're struggling to choose between two limits, choose the higher option. Policyholders tend to severely undervalue their belongings. As seen above, it typically does not cost much more to carry higher limits. If you can afford it, play it safe and go for a higher limit for added peace of mind.

Check out our list of optional renters insurance coverages below to see if you could benefit from additional coverage.

Optional renters insurance coverage

The coverage options listed above are standard in many renters’ policies. However, the additional coverage options listed below are worth considering.

Optional Renters Insurance Coverage Types
Coverage Type What It Is Who Needs It
Replacement cost coverage Most personal property claims are paid out based on your belongings' Actual Cash Value, which accounts for depreciation. However, you can sometimes pay more to be paid based on their Replacement Cost Value, the current market value of personal items. Individuals with expensive personal items need replacement cost coverage.
Earthquake coverage In some areas you can add earth movement coverage to your existing policy. Renters residing in earthquake-prone locations need earthquake coverage.
Sewer or drain backup insurance Neither sewer or drain backup is typically covered by your renters insurance policy. If a sump pump breaks and causes your living room to flood, this coverage would kick in and cover repairs to your personal possessions. Renters living in homes with an aging sewer system, cities with known pipeline issues, or have tree roots near your plumbing should consider sewer or drain backup insurance.
Riders and endorsements A rider, also called a floater or endorsement, expands liability limits for personal items like jewelry or art, making it crucial for valuable items such as an engagement ring. It involves an appraisal but is vital for high-value belongings. Renters who own fine art, jewelry, firearms, or other valuables often need riders and endorsements.
Renters and auto insurance bundle Many companies offer the chance to bundle your renters and car insurance. While this sometimes makes bill-paying more streamlined, it can also lead to savings. Renters looking to consolidate coverage and save money should bundle their renters and auto insurance.

If you’re ready to shop for renters insurance, get a quote with our friends at Lemonade below. It often takes only 90 seconds! If you're not set on one renters insurance company or would like more guidance on which coverage is best for you, consider speaking with one of The Zebra's friendly licensed insurance agents. Call us at 888-444-2833 so you can get the best renters insurance policy for you today.

Need a Renters Insurance Quote?

Lemonade Insurance Quick Facts
Aspect Answer
Availability AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, MD, MA, MI, MO, NV, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX, VA, WA, WI
Rates Usually only $5-$10 per month
Discounts (state-dependent) Security-related (e.g. deadbolts, alarms), bundling (e.g. with pet insurance), paid-in-full
Basic Coverage Options Highly customizable through their app
Extra Coverage (Scheduled Personal Property Coverage) You can add Extra Coverage (with a $0 deductible and coverage for mysterious loss and accidental damage) for jewelry, fine art, cameras, bicycles, and musical instruments.
Claims process Convenient and quick online claims process

What is not covered by renters insurance?

A handful of perils are not covered by renters insurance. Below are common exclusions and what you can do to get coverage.

Ordinance or law

Renters insurance doesn't cover updates required by law. For instance, if an outdated electrical system is damaged and a new ordinance demands upgrades, your policy won't pay for the new materials or labor. You can add ordinance or law coverage, but this is more common if you're a homeowner.

earthquake data
Earth movement

This is a broad term for earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, and landslides. In order to have coverage for these events, you need to add supplementary coverage. Depending on your location, you may be able to add this to your renters coverage. In some locations, you will need a separate earthquake insurance policy

pipe burst
Water/flood damage

Your renters policy covers some water damage, but severe weather events like natural disasters are usually excluded. To be covered against floods or hurricanes, you typically need separate coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).


Insurers typically exclude bed bugs and similar issues because insurance is intended for sudden, unpreventable losses, and infestations are seen as preventable through proper care and maintenance by the policyholder.

"Dangerous" dogs

Renters insurance typically covers harm done by your dog to others or their property. However, certain breeds considered "dangerous" like Rottweilers or Pit bulls are often restricted. Owners of restricted breeds can shop around for an insurer that doesn't exclude their breed or add umbrella insurance to extend their liability limit.

What does renters insurance cover FAQs

Renters insurance covers you, your liability, and your belongings in the event of a covered loss. Most standard policies will cover damage or destruction caused by fire and lightning, theft, wind and hailstorms, explosions, riots, civil commotion, aircraft, vehicles, smoke, vandalism, falling objects, weight of frozen water, accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam, freezing of HVAC systems, and volcanic eruptions. This usually comes in the form of personal property coverage, personal liability coverage, additional living expenses, and medical payments insurance.

Renters insurance does not typically cover damage resulting from earthquakes, mudslides, water (floods), power failures, neglect (e.g. infestations), war, nuclear hazards, intentional loss, and wear and tear. Additionally, renters insurance will only cover your property up to the limits and sub-limits set on your policy.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
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  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.