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What does renters insurance cover?

Photo by Andrey Popov/

Colton was charging his massage gun in his apartment when it suddenly started spewing acrid smoke. As he carried it outside, it caught fire. Startled, he dropped it, and the flames quickly climbed the hallway walls. Fortunately, Colton was able to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher, but not before smoke and ashes damaged his couch, carpet, curtains, and other items in his apartment.

While his landlord will likely pay to repair damage to the unit itself, Colton is on the hook to replace the furnishings. Thankfully, he bought renters insurance when he moved in. Because this insurance doesn’t cover the building’s structure, it is relatively inexpensive; most policies cost less than $200 a year. In fact, renters insurance is so beneficial that many landlords now require their tenants to buy it. Here’s how it works.

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Renters insurance typically covers

  • The personal contents of your rented unit. If your clothing, furniture, or electronics are destroyed in a fire, windstorm, explosion, or other covered disaster, or if they’re stolen or vandalized, a renters policy will likely reimburse you for the loss.
  • Liability. Renters insurance typically covers the damages if someone gets hurt in your home and sues you. It may also provide coverage if you accidentally damage another person’s property. The coverage may pay if your dog bites someone, but insurers don’t cover every dog breed, so check with your agent.
  • Loss of use. If you must move out of your rental unit after a covered disaster, the policy will probably include coverage to pay expenses you incur to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired. This typically includes your hotel bills and meals.

You may also like: 9 smart times to review your insurance policies

Renters insurance does not cover

  • Earthquake and flood damage. As with homeowners insurance policies, renters insurance specifically excludes damage arising from these 2 natural disasters. But like homeowners, renters can buy specific flood or earthquake coverage.
  • Your roommates’ belongings. Renters insurance is one thing you cannot share.
  • Certain personal property. Renters insurance limits the amount of coverage it provides for valuable objects such as jewelry and watches, art and antiques, money and coins, and firearms. You can buy a scheduled personal property endorsement for these items.

You may also like: Do you have enough insurance coverage to protect your valuables?

Ask an agent

Q: I own a condo. What kind of homeowners insurance do I need?

A: A unit owner’s policy, or “walls-in coverage,” typically provides protection for your unit’s walls, floors, and ceilings, plus your personal belongings, along with liability and loss-of-use coverage. Your homeowners association’s policy should cover the condo building itself and the common areas.

Have you experienced a major life event? Make sure all your policies are up-to-date. Go to For other insurance information, go to, call (844) 226-3897, or visit your local Auto Club branch.

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