How does renters personal property insurance work?
The personal property section of your renters insurance protects your belongings against theft and damage from a covered loss. It is one of the four primary coverages often included in a standard renters insurance policy— the others are personal liability, medical payments to others and additional living expenses (also known as loss of use coverage).
Read on to find out what renters personal property insurance covers, how much you need, and how much you can expect to pay.
Personal property insurance defined
If your belongings are stolen or damaged by a covered peril, the personal property section of your renters insurance offers compensation up to the policy limits. This coverage is not typically available to purchase separately, but it is always included in a standard renters insurance policy. Unlike renters liability insurance, personal property claims are subject to deductible, so your policy will pay out up to the limits minus your selected deductible.
What does renters personal property insurance cover?
Every renters insurance policy is a named peril policy, meaning that items will only be covered if the damage was caused by an event specifically listed on the policy. This largely depends on the details of your policy, but personal property coverage typically offers protection from damage due to the following perils:
- Civil unrest
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Volcanic eruption
- Falling objects
- Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from an appliance, or a plumbing, heating, or air conditioning systems
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam or hot water system, air conditioning or automatic fire-protection system
- Short-circuit damage caused by electrical appliances
Your policy will also only pay out up to the policy limitations. You can assess what limit is best for you after making a home inventory and understanding exactly how much your items are worth.
What renters personal property insurance doesn’t cover
Certain perils will never be covered by insurance companies, and they are referred to as exclusions. If your contents are damaged or destroyed by the following perils, you will not have insurance coverage:
- Vandalism to vacant dwellings
- Wear and tear
- Property damage caused by pets
- Enforcement of building codes and similar laws
- Intentional acts
- Government acts
This type of coverage is meant to provide protection in the event of incidents occurring within your rental unit — damage to the actual structure of the unit will be covered by your landlord’s insurance. Liability protection will also not cover you if it was business-related: this would be covered by a commercial policy.
*You can add flood/hurricane coverage back to your contents by purchasing a flood insurance policy through FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Policy. This will cover your personal property contents up to $100,000. If the value of your contents exceeds this, consider purchasing another private flood insurance policy.
**You can add limited coverage for mold on many standard property insurance policies.
How much is renters personal property insurance?
Since you can’t really purchase personal property insurance on its own, let’s take a look at some major companies’ renters insurance policy average rates, since personal property insurance is included in standard renters policies.
|Insurance Provider||Average Monthly Renters Insurance Premium|
|Personal property coverage limit||Average monthly rate|
How much personal property coverage do you need in renters insurance?
Typical renters insurance policies default to between $10,000 and $25,000 in personal property coverage. If you are sharing your renter’s policy with a roommate, you might elect to increase this coverage amount.
You generally have some flexibility for your personal property coverage limit. The best way to determine how much coverage you need is by creating a home inventory and understanding the value of your personal belongings. This may take some time, but an inventory of your items will save you a headache if you ever need to make an insurance claim. The more thorough the inventory, the better chance you have at recouping your losses to the fullest extent. Renters insurance pays out personal property claims on an actual cash value basis, meaning that your belongings will be reimbursed for what they are currently worth, taking depreciation into account.
When creating your home inventory list, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that all your bases are covered.
Follow these guidelines when creating your home inventory list:
Start with recent purchases or higher-value items.
Create a detailed list of all of your possessions. Be as detailed as possible.
List items by group (i.e., specific clothing items or small kitchen appliances)
Don't forget about important documents like birth certificates and passports. Make copies and, if possible, store the originals in a fireproof safe.
Along with an online copy of your home inventory, store a copy in a safety deposit box or a fireproof safe.
The more detailed you can be, the better. You may want to make note of the condition of the items, take pictures, list serial numbers, keep receipts, and continue to update your inventory as you make more purchases. One helpful tip is to go by rooms in your house: assessing items in your living room, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and others can help with this tedious process and keep it organized.
4 of the best home inventory apps for iOS and Android
Compiling a home inventory can be an overwhelming task. Luckily, a collection of mobile apps exist to help you through the process.
- Sortly — Cited by The Balance as the best-in-class home inventory app, Sortly allows you to organize and categorize your belongings in granular detail, down to the serial number. Sortly is available on iOS and Android devices.
- MyStuff2 Pro — This iOS-only application offers a paid version and a lightweight free option for smaller home inventory projects.
- Encircle — Encircle is a user-friendly, design-forward app for iOS and Android. The free option allows you to document your home's contents with photos and access your entries via mobile or desktop.
- Inventory Manager — This application is specifically geared toward home insurance inventory-taking, allowing you to easily tally the value of your home's contents. Inventory Manager is available on iOS.
The Zebra's recommendations are unbiased; we do not receive a commission from any of the above home inventory apps.
If you're looking for a lower-tech way to keep track of your belongings, give the NAIC's Home Inventory Checklist a try.
Renters coverage for high-value items
Renters insurance policies often limit the coverage for specific high-value items like art, jewelry, or electronics. Speak to your insurance agent about the limits of your policy for high-value items to determine if they will cover these belongings. If you need more coverage, you can look into additional coverage to raise the coverage limits — but keep in mind that endorsements mean an additional cost to you. Renters insurance is fairly affordable to begin with, but adding endorsements will raise your premiums.
If you only have one or a few pieces of high value, you may consider a scheduled personal property endorsement to just cover these specific items. Some renters insurance companies also allow policyholders to upgrade their policy to pay out on a replacement cost basis rather than actual cash value. Replacement cost value policies pay out items based on what you paid for them in the first place, without taking depreciation into consideration. These types of policies are more expensive, but the claim payout is higher.
Is personal property insurance required for renters insurance?
Renters insurance is not required to hold by law, but some apartment complexes or landlords will require tenants to have one in order to sign a lease. Because renters policies are low in premiums, it is a good idea to apply for a policy so that you may be protected should disaster strike.
Personal property coverage cannot really be purchased on its own but is included in all renters insurance policies. Renters insurance covers liability coverage, personal property, additional living expenses and medical expenses to others, so protecting yourself with a policy is an affordable way to cover you and keep your property safe.
There are several ways to purchase a renters insurance policy online. Lemonade is a relatively new insurance provider in the U.S. Lemonade offers customized coverage without all the additional fees a standard insurance company requires. Get a free renters insurance quote.
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