Mark Roemer image of a renter's insurance policy

Do You Really Need Renter’s Insurance?

When I, Mark Roemer, was in college and acquired my first flat, my dad told me, “Always be sure to get renter’s insurance!” As most college kids would, I immediately pushed this bit of parental guidance out of my thoughts.

That was a big mistake on my part. When I returned from winter break my freshman year, my apartment had been broken into. My television, my roommate’s computer, and many other personal items were gone. Without insurance, I was stuck with the bill to replace it all.

While relocating to a new place can be a job in and of itself, do not forget to be sure to have the coverage and protection you may need in the event of a crisis. Not sure what exactly you want to look for in your tenant’s insurance coverage, or still have questions? I can provide you some answers which you will find below.

Is there a reason I need to have renter’s insurance?

For the most part, apartment complexes and landlords only have insurance which covers the damage to the actual dwelling, which renders everything of yours (electronic equipment, furniture, clothing, whatever) vulnerable. So, to secure your belongings in the event of fire, theft, or damage, you want your own coverage, called an HO4 or renter’s insurance policy (Unless, of course, you’ve got the money to replace it all by yourself).

In addition, you need liability coverage for damages caused by negligence. For instance, in the event that you inadvertently leave the kitchen faucet on and it overflows in your neighbors’ flat, you might be found liable for that harm –and needed to cover repairs, medical bills related to the incident, in addition to defense costs should they bring a lawsuit against you. Renter’s insurance will cover those costs.

While this isn’t a subject that is fun to think about, it is something that needs to be thought about. It is a lot easier to think about how you will fix a problem before it happens, rather than wait until it does happen, and you have to scramble to fix it.

What does my coverage Pay –and what will not it?

Most typical renter’s insurance policies offer protection for your belongings in the event of power surges, water damage, fire, vandalism, theft, and other activities outside of your control. But most do not cover damage caused by flooding (or additional water-related incidents), earthquakes (should you live in an area susceptible to them), mudslides (in areas with a lot of hills and rain), or nuclear hazards (thankfully that isn’t much of a problem). Should you happen to live near a fault line or the water, or are worried about these hazards, you will need to discuss this with your insurance agent and ask about obtaining a separate policy.

Also, keep in mind that certain property types will only be insured up to a limit set by your insurer ($1,500 for electronics and $4,500 for jewelry and furs, for example). So, if you’ve got an engagement ring, a computer, or even a costly set of golf clubs, you should consider purchasing an extra personal articles policy. These add-ons to your renter’s insurance are generally cheap (we are talking a few dollars every month); however, protect these essential items that would be costly to replace.

Reduction of Use

Your coverage also covers your living expenses in the event you must leave your home after an incident. Let’s say there are high winds, and a tree happens to crashes through your roof, and the location needs repairs until you can live there again. In this case, the insurance company will be expected to pay for a hotel, food, and any additional expenses you incur while you don’t have access to your own.


Your liability coverage pays for bodily harm and property damage caused by negligence, like if your pet gets loose and bites the neighbor’s kid and has to get stitches.

You are not, however, covered for negligence for expected or planned bodily injury (for example if you throw something at your neighbor because he is making loud noises at night), company pursuits (the cupcakes you make in your flat makes someone sick with food poisoning–you would require a business owner’s coverage ), or vehicle-related damage or harm (your emergency brake fails and your parked car hits someone–auto insurance covers this).

Additional Coverage

Besides the basics, there are a few different types of coverage to understand. If a visitor suffers an injury in your home, your policy’s “medical payments to others” coverage will look after the medical bills, irrespective of who’s to blame. And “property of the others” policy replaces not only your possessions but others’. For example, if you borrow a friend’s notebook, and a leaking pipe destroys it.

How much protection do I need?

Many landlords need their tenants to have a minimum of $100K in a liability policy. If your landlord does not have this guideline, speak with an insurance broker to determine how much coverage you want.

For property damage policy, while that looks like a simple query when you really start to think through what it might cost to replace everything in your home, it may get tricky. However, a good guideline, and what fundamental policies insure, is $60,000 to $900,000 for flats and about $200,000 for homes.

More importantly, even though you can’t put a dollar sign on everything you own, take videos or photos of your place and your main belongings. This way, you’ll have an inventory of what and can think through how much what’s worth at the point in case of a catastrophe.

I want this! Where do I get a Coverage –and how much does it cost?

A company that provides your auto insurance–most will give you great discounts if you package both coverages. When they don’t offer renter’s insurance or would like to look around, check out Prices vary by country, liability limitations, and the personal property worth you want to cover, but a basic policy $60,000 of personal property coverage, $200,000 of liability, and also a $1,000 or $2,000 deductible–should only cost you $20 to $45 bucks a month. And let us face it, that’s a small price to cover the peace of mind it provides and the policy you will want you Would have had in a disaster. Just think, for the price of one take-out meal a month, I, Mark Roemer, could have protected my college apartment.