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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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Renata Balasco

Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

What is a renters insurance policy?

A renters insurance policy explains your coverages, limits and any stipulations of your renters insurance, which protects you and your personal belongings.


Your renters insurance policy — table of contents:
  1. Parts of a renters insurance policy
  2. The two types of renters insurance policies
  3. Perils covered
  4. Add-on renters insurance coverages
  5. What's a renters insurance deductible?
  6. How much renters insurance do you need?



Parts of a renters insurance policy

Renters policies are very similar to homeowners insurance except they do not cover a physical dwelling. The structure of your rental unit should be covered by your landlord’s insurance policy. When looking for a renters policy, you’ll want to make sure that your insurance coverage will fully protect you and your personal possessions.

Find below the types of coverage that you can expect from a renters policy.

  • Personal property coverage:  Your personal belongings are covered up to your coverage limits.
  • Liability coverage: This coverage protects you in situations such as a guest being seriously injured in your rental unit or you causing a fire or water damage that harms or destroys the property of others. 
  • Additional living expenses (loss of use): This coverage kicks in if your rental unit is rendered unlivable, often providing for hotel stays, meals and transportation. 
  • Medical payments coverage: If someone is injured while visiting your rental unit, this coverage goes toward paying their medical bills. 


The two types of renters insurance policies

The main types of renters policies available are actual cash value (ACV) and replacement cost value (RCV) policies. The difference between these renters insurance categories comes down to how your insurer pays out to cover an insurance claim. Policyholders can typically choose which type they would like at the outset of their policy term. However, some renters insurance companies may only offer one or the other, so make sure to inquire about this before purchasing your policy.

Read our rundown of renters insurance policy types to see which is best for you. 

Actual cash value

Actual cash value coverage replaces your personal property at the value that they are currently worth. This coverage type factors in the depreciation of your property to reflect wear and tear. Consider it similar to the cost of a “new” item versus a “used” item. These policies tend to be somewhat cheaper as they do not require the insurer to pay out the full price for lost or damaged property. 

Replacement cost value

Replacement cost coverage replaces your personal belongings at their full value. Depreciation is not considered, meaning that you will be able to replace your items of equal kind and quality without having to face additional out-of-pocket expenses. This type of coverage is well suited for renters wanting to fully protect their personal belongings, though it is likely to carry a higher price tag than ACV coverage. 


What perils does a renters insurance policy cover?

Your policy will cover damage caused by certain named perils. Below are the most commonly covered perils for the average renters policy.

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Windstorms
  • Hail
  • Explosions
  • Civil unrest
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism or malicious mischief 
  • Theft
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • 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


Perils not covered by renters insurance

Certain perils may not be covered by an insurer. While you can sometimes add an endorsement to cover these, some policies may be more limited in what they cover.

Below are some of the common exclusions found in many renters insurance policies.


Add-on renters insurance coverages

As stated above, the average renters policy comes with a number of exclusions. If you are concerned about not being fully covered, consider these additional coverage options (endorsements) when purchasing your policy. It’s important to note that such endorsements may not be available from every insurer.

Scheduled personal property endorsements

Nearly all insurance companies place limits on coverage for more expensive items (such as jewelry, electronics, art, etc.). If the value of such items exceeds these limits, it’s wise to add a scheduled property endorsement in the amount of each item’s worth.

Water damage

If water backs up from your drain or sewer, this coverage add-on can offer protection.

Landlord property damage

This coverage can help protect you if you (or a pet) cause accidental damage to your landlord’s property.

High-risk dog coverage

You can be held liable if your dog bites another person (or their pet). This coverage steps in to cover your liability and damages. However, many insurers have strict breed restrictions, meaning that you will want to check that your dog doesn’t fall into that category or have an attack history.


Depending on where you live, some insurers may offer an earthquake endorsement should an earth movement event damage your belongings or render your rental unit uninhabitable.


What’s a renters insurance deductible?

Your deductible is your share of the cost of covering an insurance claim. For instance, if you file a claim for $2,000 and have a $500 deductible, your insurer would pay out $1,500 for the claim. Renters insurance deductibles tend to be quite a bit cheaper than homeowners deductibles, where they can run in the thousands. Typical renters insurance deductibles average anywhere from $100 to $1,000 depending on the insurer and the amount of coverage that you carry.


How much renters insurance do you need?

The amount of renters insurance you need is dependent on your individual situation. Consider the total amount of personal belongings you have when determining your coverage limit. It can be a good idea to put together a home inventory to help with this. Also, when searching for a policy, you may want to consider bundling renters and auto insurance for extra savings. 

Overall, renters insurance coverage is very important if you want to stay protected. While renters coverage can be pretty cheap, it’s still a good idea to shop around to find the company and policy that best fits your needs. Click the link below to get a renters insurance quote.

Need a Renters Insurance Quote?

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 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.