Is Renters Insurance Required?

While renters insurance isn't legally required, it is legal for your landlord to require it. Read the details below.

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Ross Martin

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Is renters insurance mandatory?

While renters insurance is not required by law (unlike auto insurance), it is legal in most states for your landlord to require you to have a renters insurance policy. While this might feel like an irritating additional expense, renters insurance can be just as helpful to you as to your landlord. Below, learn more about why and when renters insurance may be required.

Key Takeaways:

  • While not legally required, in most states it's legal for landlords to require tenants to have renters insurance
  • Renters insurance protects tenants' belongings, reduces liability and financial risk, and motivates tenants to take better care of their belongings
  • College students living on campus can usually use their parent's homeowners insurance to cover their possessions
  • In most situations, you should get renters insurance even if it isn't required


Can my landlord require renters insurance?

In all states but Oklahoma, your landlord can require renters insurance. Oklahoma is the only state where it is illegal for landlords to require tenants to have renters insurance. This is based on the “Sutton Rule” which states that tenants are co-insured under a landlord’s policy. If the renter was to also have insurance, it could result in duplicate coverage.


Why do landlords require renters insurance?

Landlords require renters insurance for a number of reasons including protecting tenant belongs, reducing financial risk to themselves, and encouraging tenant accountability.

shoes and laptop
Protecting tenant belongings

In the unfortunate event of a fire, theft, or other covered perils, renters insurance ensures that tenants can recover the value of their belongings, including electronics, furniture, and other belongings. The landlord's policy covers damage to the rented dwelling, not the tenant's property.

wallet with cash
Reduced liability and financial risk

Landlords face various financial risks associated with renting their properties. Requiring renters insurance mitigates some of these risks. For instance, if a tenant is held liable for injuries sustained on the property, the insurance coverage can handle these expenses, protecting both the tenant and the landlord's financial interests.

woman and cat in window looking up
Tenant accountability

Requiring renters insurance promotes tenant responsibility as it motivates them to take better care of their belongings, understanding they are financially accountable for any losses or damages to their own property.

When is renters insurance required?

Renters insurance is usually mandatory for anyone renting an apartment, even college students living off campus and seniors living in an independent living apartment or home. Having your own renters insurance policy may not be required for college students living on campus, short-term rentals, subletting situations, or if a roommate has a policy they are willing to include you on. See the chart below for more details.

Scenario Is renters insurance required?
College students living on campus No. Usually students in dorms can be added to their parents’ home or renters insurance policies at no additional cost and receive about 10% of their parents’ coverage.
College students living off campus Yes. Parent’s home or renters insurance will not extend to off-campus housing and the majority of landlords will require proof of renters insurance before signing the lease.
You're living with your parents No. Although it's still advised. Otherwise, your property may not be adequately covered and any liability claims made against you could negatively affect your parents and their home or renters policy if you didn't have your own policy.
Seniors living in a nursing home or apartment Potentially. Senior living providing a higher level of care such as nursing homes likely don’t require renters insurance. However, if you’re a senior in an apartment or similar independent living situation, it likely will be required.
Short-term rentals Not typically. If you’re renting property on a short-term basis such as through Airbnb or similar, renters insurance is typically not required.
Month-to-month leases Typically yes. However, if you decide to not renew your lease and still have time left on your renters insurance policy, some insureres will return the majority of your premium excluding the “minimum earned premium.”
Subleasing Potentially. It depends upon the landlord and initial contract signed by the primary tenant. It’s worth noting that the primary tenant’s insurance will not protect you
Your roommate has renters insurance Potentially. Many insurers allow multiple roommates to be listed on the same policy. Just be sure you are actually listed on the policy and that you are willing to bear the risks associated with sharing a renters insurance policy.

Should I get renters insurance even if it isn’t required?

The Zebra strongly encourages renters to secure an insurance policy, especially considering it costs an average of only $19 per month. Even if you don't own valuable possessions, renters insurance provides crucial liability protection. It covers medical bills for injuries caused by your pet or within your rental unit, legal expenses, and even additional living expenses if you're temporarily displaced due to a covered event. 

If you’re ready to shop for renters insurance, get a quick quote with our friends at Lemonade below. If you'd rather compare quotes to get the best price, call us at 888-444-2833 to speak with one of our friendly licensed insurance agents. As an independent agency, our agents have access to policies from big names like Liberty Mutual and regional companies like Plymouth Rock, ensuring you get the best price and coverage for your unique needs.

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

Is renters insurance required FAQs

While not legally required, in most states (not Arizona) it's legal for landlords to require tenants to have renters insurance.

While not legally required, we still consider renters insurance a need rather than a want. Without it, you would have to pay out of pocket to replace any items stolen from your residence or damaged in covered perils like fire or vandalism. Additionally, renters insurance often includes liability coverage, which can protect you if someone is injured in your rented property.

While you don't technically have to have renters insurance when living with your parents, it's a good idea. We usually recommend parents require adult children get their own policy as a condition for living with them. Otherwise, your property may not be adequately covered and any liability claims made against you could negatively affect them or their home or renters policy.

If you are living in someone else's home or apartment, it is always a good idea to have renters insurance. Many companies will allow unmarried couples to be on the same policy if they live in the same house or apartment, but you must specify it. You aren't typically automatically covered by someone else's policy just by sharing the same address.

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