Insurance

Ask an agent: Renter's insurance

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If you’ve got questions about your insurance coverage, claims or just pesky random scenarios that pop up — our experts have the answers. Welcome back to Ask an Agent, our advice column where we share questions we’ve gotten and the answers from The Zebra licensed insurance agents. 

Today, we’re looking at questions related to renter's insurance. Should you get it? What's actually covered? Our experts are ready to answer all your questions. 

How do I get reimbursed without proof of rental payment?

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My apartment is uninhabitable because of mold and mildew. Good thing I have renter's insurance, right? I found a comparable house nearby to rent. However, to get reimbursed for the rental payment, the insurance company wants proof of a cashed check. The problem is that the owner of the apartment requires payments in cash, so I'm not sure how to proceed.

-Frustrated by fungus in Florida

Sorry to hear about your situation. This is a tough call. By paying your rent in cash, you could be losing the ability to trace where your money goes. As such, you'll want to see how your specific company wants to proceed. Getting your landlord involved will likely be necessary. Since you don't have check stubs to submit, your landlord could be able to provide proof of your payment. 

 

My neighbor flooded my apartment, will it be covered?

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My neighbor had a fire in their apartment that set off their sprinkler system which also set mine off. The water damaged a bunch of my electronics. Will renters insurance cover the damage to my things?

-Water-logged in West Virginia

This is exactly the kind of scenario that renters insurance exists for. Your policy should cover the loss of your personal property to a covered peril (in this case, water damage due to fire sprinklers). File a claim explaining the details of the event, and your insurance company should reimburse you up to the amount of the replaced items or to your coverage limit. You'd be subject to a deductible. If you can, when you submit your claim, provide a home inventory, photos, and receipts with your claim.

Do we need to have receipts for everything to get renters insurance?

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My partner and I are interested in getting renters insurance for our new place. We want to make sure all of our personal property is covered. However, the majority of our belongings we've had for a while and we no longer have the receipts for them. How do we prove their value to the insurance company?

-Anxious in Arizona

Fortunately, you do not need to keep receipts of everything you own, but it does help to have a record just in case. Most people tend to underestimate how much they have, so creating a detailed home inventory will help you make sure nothing is left out. In the event of a claim, the adjuster is going to ask what needs to be replaced, so having a written record along with some photos or videos will help.

Definitely consider opting for replacement cost in your renters policy, as the default is actual cash value, which may not be enough to cover the full amount to replace your personal property. It costs a few more dollars but is well worth it.

Does renters insurance cover hotel stay if my air conditioning system goes out?

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The AC is currently out in my house. This is a specific issue with our unit, not a power outage or anything. While it's not insanely hot here, I have medical issues that require me to be in air-conditioned rooms. Will my renters insurance cover a hotel stay while my AC is being fixed?

-Outage in Ohio

Typically, your renter's policy will not cover your hotel due to your air conditioner being out. A broken AC is not considered the loss of use of the dwelling (home) — they typically only pay for other accommodations when the entire dwelling is uninhabitable. I recommend you check out our guide to what renters insurance covers. Every company is different so it doesn't hurt to call your insurance company and ask a claims adjuster how your medical issues may affect your policy. 

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Do you have a question you'd like to annoymously ask one of our agents? Shoot us a message here, and we'll get back to you shortly! 

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Susan MeyerSenior Editorial Manager

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebra a year. She currently specializes in producing research-focused content for The Zebra's Resource Center on topics related to auto and home insurance, personal finance and smarter living in the 21st century.

Susan's work has been cited by the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm, BuzzfeedCBS, Yahoo, Entrepreneur and Business Insider.