How to Get Renters Insurance in 5 Easy Steps

Use our tips to streamline your search for a renters insurance policy.

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

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  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

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…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

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  • 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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How to shop for renters insurance: a guide

The best way to get renters insurance for your house or apartment is to compare quotes from multiple companies. While this may initially sound daunting, shopping for renters insurance doesn't have to be a complicated, time-consuming process. Below, we'll break down the process into five simple steps, making it easy for you to tick "getting renters insurance" off your to-do list.


Step 1: Gather documentation

Gathering necessary information is an essential part of insurance shopping. Not only does it streamline the process, but ensures your quote will be accurate.

We recommend having the following information on hand before shopping for renters insurance:

  • Basic information — This includes the full name, contact details, and birthdate of the policyholder.
  • Rental property address —  It's vital you provide an accurate address from the beginning. If the address initially provided differs from the insured property, correcting it can significantly affect the final premium due to location being a factor in rental insurance pricing.
  • Rental property details — Information such as property type (apartment, house, etc.) and safety features (e.g., smoke detectors, security systems).
  • Inventory of personal belongings — A list or inventory of your personal belongings, including estimated values. This helps determine the coverage amount you need. 
  • Your desired coverage level — See the next step for more information.
  • Pet information — Do you have a pet? What type and breed?
  • Basic information of additional insured — Providing accurate information about all occupants ensures the policy meets household coverage needs, ensuring quote accuracy and preventing disputes or coverage issues down the road. See our page discussing renters insurance for roommates for more details.
cat and woman thinking

Do I really need renters insurance?

Yes — If you are renting a home or apartment, you need renters insurance. While many landlords require it, it's wise to have it regardless. Your landlord's policy mainly safeguards their interests, the property's structure, and their liability. Without renters insurance, you'd be responsible for replacing your belongings in cases like fire or theft or footing the bill if you're liable for injury or property damage caused by you or your pet.


Step 2: Determine your coverage needs

Before you start shopping for renters insurance, walk through your home and take inventory of your possessions — especially anything expensive or difficult to replace. You will need to choose a personal property limit that adequately covers their worth. You can do this either with a pen and paper, a spreadsheet, or an app.

In addition to your personal property limit, there are also sub-limits that set maximum payout amounts for particular categories of items such as cash, jewelry, or electronics. If you find that your property exceeds the sub-limit for a category, we recommend you look into adding a scheduled personal property endorsement. This allows you to list and insure specific high-value items individually, ensuring they are adequately covered beyond sub-limits.

Personal property sub-limits
Sub-limit Property Limitations
$200 Money, gold, coins  
$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  

For the average person in their 20s living alone, we recommend the following coverage levels:

  • $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

Zebra Tip: Between two limits? Opt for More

Renters often undervalue their belongings, and the cost difference for higher coverage is usually minimal, especially when factoring in the added peace of mind.

Actual cash value vs replacement cost value coverage

When deciding coverage, you should also consider how claims are reimbursed. Most insurers reimburse claims based on your possessions' Actual Cash Value (ACV), but some will let you choose a Replacement Cost Value policy instead. We explain the differences between the two below.

wallet with cash
Actual cash value coverage

Actual cash value (ACV) replaces your personal belongings at the value they are currently worth, factoring in depreciation from age, wear, and tear. These policies are cheaper, but don't typically provide enough to cover the cost of brand-new equivalents.

Who ACV coverage is best for: Those looking for a budget-friendly premium and open to replacing items with second-hand or lower-cost alternatives should opt for ACV coverage. 

replacement cost
Replacement cost value coverage

Replacement Cost Value (RCV) coverage reimburses you for the full cost of your possessions, minus your deductible (and up to your limit).

Who RCV coverage is best for: RCV is best suited for renters with new or high-value possessions who wish to replace damaged or stolen items with brand-new equivalents and can afford a slightly higher premium.

Looking for more in-depth information? Check out our guide to renters insurance coverage.


3. Choose where to shop

When shopping for insurance, you have several different options for where to shop: through an insurer's agent, an independent agent or agency, directly through an insurer's website, and through a comparison platform.

The Zebra tends to recommend against going through only one insurer's website or their agents as you're only getting a quote from one company and agents may be biased from commissions (unlike independent agents). Below we outline three convenient options for shopping for insurance.

agent

Option A: Connect with The Zebra's expert agents

The best part about The Zebra's agency? We do the searching, you do the saving. As an independent agency, we have access to renters policies from both industry giants like Liberty Mutual and regional players such as Plymouth Rock, enabling us to easily compare quotes and secure you the best value for your chosen coverage. Ready to start shopping? Reach out to our friendly licensed agents at 1-888-255-4364. Or, learn more about The Zebra's independent agency here.

 

Option B: Get an online quote from Lemonade

Prefer to avoid human interaction? Lemonade is here to help. Specializing in renters insurance, Lemonade offers a streamlined online application process, affordable rates, and customizable coverage. Lemonade is not a quote comparison site, meaning they only sell Lemonade policies. Still, The Zebra recommends the company as a good solution for most renters. You can get renters insurance coverage in as little as 90 seconds. Click below to get started.



Need a Renters Insurance Quote?


Quick facts about Lemonade renters insurance
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

Option C: Shop with your car insurance company

If you trust your current car insurer, it's always a good idea to see if they offer renters insurance as well. Just remember that while bundling discounts may seem appealing, separate auto and renters policies can sometimes be more cost-effective. The cheapest renters insurance companies may not be the same as the cheapest car insurance companies.

To avoid overpaying, it's a good idea to obtain at least one additional quote. As mentioned earlier, Lemonade offers a straightforward quoting process with rates averaging from $5 to $10 per month. Click here to begin Lemonade's easy quote process. 


4. Get quotes and ask about discounts

Renters insurance often has substantially lower premiums than other types of insurance, leaving less room for discounts. However, it's still worth checking. Below are ways you can lower your renters insurance bill:

  • Installing safety features. Many insurers offer discounts for residences with burglar alarms, smoke detectors, etc.
  • Changing how you pay. Some insurers offer discounts when you set up recurring payments or pay the full cost of your insurance upfront.
  • Taking advantage of your age. Some insurers, including Allstate, offer senior discounts. 
  • Bundling policies. Although it is sometimes cheaper to stick with separate renters and auto insurance providers.
  • Opting for actual cash value coverage. However, as previously mentioned, this comes with risks.
  • Increasing your deductible. Opt for the highest deductible you can safely afford should the worst arise as this can dramatically reduce your rate.
  • Lowering your limits. While you don't want your limits to be lower than the value of your personal property, some insurers will let you adjust limits for specific categories. For example, Lemonade allows you to set separate limits for portable electronics. 

5. Purchase your renters insurance policy.

Once you've selected a renters insurance policy that suits your needs and budget, review the policy documents carefully to confirm that they accurately reflect the coverage you discussed with the insurer. Pay close attention to the policy's terms and conditions, including any exclusions or limitations. This is crucial to ensuring that it provides the protection you require.

You are officially covered by your renters insurance policy once you pay the down payment and pay the remainder in full or set up a payment plan. Keep the policy documents in a safe place, and don't hesitate to reach out to your agent if you have any questions or need clarifications.

paper with warning icon
Switching policies

If switching renters policies, check to see if your new insurer handles the cancellation of your old policy. Some do, some don't. If not, simply contact your old insurance provider. Request cancellation with an effective date that aligns with your new policy, especially if you're staying at the same residence.


How often should you shop around for renters insurance?

The Zebra recommends shopping for renters insurance at least once a year to ensure you're still getting the best price and that your coverage aligns with your current circumstances. Major life changes like moving, acquiring valuable possessions, or losing or gaining roommates can all affect your rate and optimum coverage levels. The good news? Shopping for renters insurance is even easier the next time, especially if you keep up with your home inventory.
shoes and comparison shopping

How to Shop for Renters Insurance FAQs

The best way to get renters insurance is to compare quotes from multiple companies. This ensures you are getting the best deal for your chosen coverage level.

The Zebra recommends shopping around for renters insurance at least once a year. Annual reviews allow you to ensure your coverage aligns with your current needs and any updates to your belongings, property, or living situation.

The best place to get renters insurance varies from person to person. If you trust your car insurer, see if they can offer you an attractive deal on renters insurance. If you desire a streamlined, tech-driven insurance experience, Lemonade Insurance is an excellent choice. If you prefer a more hands-on approach and want to ensure you're getting the best coverage at the most competitive price, we recommend speaking with one of The Zebra's friendly independent insurance agents at 1-888-255-4364.


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.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • 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.