How to Read a Renters Insurance Policy

Discover what's inside your renters insurance policy and make sure you're properly covered.
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Ross Martin

Manager, Content Quality

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers…

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Kristine Lee

Manager, Content and Data

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

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's inside your renters policy?

Your renters insurance policy documents contain all of the important information about your coverages, policy limits, covered perils and exclusions. While it may seem overwhelming to read the whole policy, there are some sections that contain information that you should know.

Consult our guide below to learn more about what your renters insurance covers.

outline of apartment building

What is a renters insurance declaration page?

The declaration page — sometimes called a dec page — is where you’ll find the basic coverages of your renters policy. Included are coverage types, limits, endorsements and information regarding your billing and the insured property.

See the example below:

Sample renters insurance policy
1.) Renters insurance company

Your company's name and business address.

2.) Policy number

This is your individual policy number. You will need this in order to make a claim.

3.) Start/finish date

This shows the dates between which your policy is active. 

4.) Covered parties

Here you'll find the names of those covered. Spouses and domestic partners can be covered under the same policy, but other roommates will want separate policies to ensure that their property is covered. If your landlord has an insurable interest, they may be listed as well.

5.) Address of the insured

This is the physical address covered by the renters insurance policy.

6.) Types of coverage

This is where your basic rental coverages are listed. For renters, this includes personal property, personal liability, medical payments and additional living expenses (loss of use). 

7.) Coverage limits

This is the amount that each coverage type will cover.

8.) Total premium

This is how much you must pay each month, including any endorsements and discounts.

9.) Deductible

This is how much you must pay before your coverage kicks in. Damages less than this amount should be covered out of pocket. 

10.) Endorsements

These are additional items that have been added at an additional cost. Scheduled items can typically be added on for less than a dollar per month — depending on value. Other renters insurance endorsements can include water damage coverage, etc. Those with valuable collectibles should seek additional coverage to fully protect those items.

11.) Discounts

Some renters insurance companies offer discounts for fire protection, security systems (alarms, deadbolts, etc.) and for bundling with car insurance.

12.) Replacement cost value (RCV)

Your personal property may be covered at replacement cost value or actual cash value (ACV). Replacement cost coverage replaces your belongings up to the full cost of replacement, while ACV factors in depreciation and will only pay what the item is currently worth.

What’s covered by renters insurance?

Each company may offer a different selection of optional coverage types, but the following coverages are included in most standard renters insurance policies.

  • Personal property coverage: This coverage provides protection for your personal items. Items of particularly high value may need additional coverage, often referred to as scheduled coverage.
  • Loss of use: If you are unable to stay in your apartment, this coverage takes care of certain living expenses such as hotel bills or transportation costs until you can get back in.
  • Liability coverage: This covers damage that you accidentally cause to another person. For instance, if your dog bites someone and they sue you, liability may be able to protect you. 
  • Medical payments: This is a sort of goodwill coverage that steps in should someone be injured on your rented property. Limits are typically low, usually between $1,000 and $5,000.

What isn't covered?

While it may vary by state and insurer, these are the most common renters insurance exclusions:

  • Intentional damage: You’re never covered for any damage that you purposefully cause.
  • Floods: You’ll likely need separate flood insurance coverage to cover flood damage. 
  • Earthquake damageEarthquakes and aftershocks are not covered by most policies.
  • Bug infestations: Most infestations — such as bed bugs — aren’t often covered.
  • The physical structure: Unlike homeowners insurance, your renters insurance policy doesn’t cover the physical structure of your rental unit.

What else is in a renters insurance policy?

Beyond the declarations page is when the fine print starts. While it can be somewhat intimidating to wade through multiple pages of insurance lingo, there are some important pieces of information inside that you should know*.

The specifics will vary depending on your insurer, but the following are generally included in most renters policies.

renters insurance contract

Renters insurance fine print: what to know

  • Coverage types: Oftentimes you’ll find specific explanations of each of the above coverage limits. This often includes special limits of liability for certain types of property. Furthermore, you may find more detailed information about what is included in your loss of use or liability coverage.

  • Perils insured against: This lays out — often in great detail — what is considered a covered loss. When you start your policy, it’s always a good idea to know your insurance company’s covered perils to avoid having a claim denied.
  • Exclusions: These exclusions may refer to perils, property types or people not covered by the policy.

  • Insurance definitions: If you’re unsure of any of the wording your policy is using, it’s likely defined here. Furthermore, they may go into more detail about insurance terms such as “bodily injury” and “property damage.”

  • Conditions: This is typically where insurance jargon and legalese combine to spell out the fine details of your policy. While it may seem indecipherable at times, the basic purpose of this section is to explain the responsibilities that both you and your insurer have in regard to payments and claims. 
Multiple policy documents with A, B and C listed
  • Endorsements: While your endorsements — or riders — are listed on your dec page. This section will typically go into far greater depth about the specifics of each endorsement, including info on perils and exclusions.

  • Disclosures and notices: Depending on your state and policy type, the space at the end of your policy documents typically feature notices in regards to fraud, state regulations and credit information.

*If you are uncertain about any part of your policy, we advise speaking with your insurance agent or contacting a lawyer who may help clarify certain clauses.

Reading your renters insurance policy: considerations

While it may seem tedious, knowing what’s in your renters policy can ensure that you and your personal possessions are fully covered. Take a moment to study your renters policy to find the key features we've listed and help prevent headaches down the line.

If you’re looking for renters coverage, click the link below to get a renters insurance quote with our trusted partner, Lemonade.

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