Does Renters or Homeowners Insurance Cover Your Stuff at a Vacation Rental?

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Heavy bags make for a happy vacation. At least for those of us who like to bring the comforts of home with us while traveling. But all of that stuff — the laptop, camera, sports equipment, and guitar — is not only heavy, but valuable, too. What happens if a globetrotter's costly travel comforts are damaged or stolen while staying in a hotel or vacation rental? Does a typical home or rental insurance policy cover personal property during travel?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the answer is "yes". 

In a hotel, vacation rental or campground, any personal possessions you take with you are likely covered under your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy under an "All Risks" or "Personal Possessions" cover. The personal property coverage written into your policy will protect any possessions outside of the home anywhere worldwide, including in the car.

Still, there are limits. A standard homeowner's or renter's policy covers personal property against "named perils": fire, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, wind, and water damage (but not including floods), so not every loss will be covered. For instance, the problem of "Oops, we didn't strap the kayak down tight enough to the roof of the car," probably won't get you a new kayak under insurance coverage.

To determine exactly what type of protection is given under your existing policy, and to get ready for any twists and turns your vacation throws at you, here's a checklist of things to do before the bags are packed.

Contact your insurance company
Check in with your insurance agency before there's a loss to confirm you're protected at the vacation destination. This is also a good time to confirm the amounts of your off-premises coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, off-premises coverage is a fraction of the total possessions insurance for some policies, usually around 10 percent. For example, a $100,000 possessions policy would cover up to $10,000 of vacation losses.

Pack less
Whether off-premises coverage is limited by your provider or not, it's a good idea to practice packing light(er) and streamline what you bring with you. Leave expensive jewelry, tech, and unnecessary equipment at home.

Create an inventory
Whatever does make the packing list should be documented and detailed, in case you have to make a claim for loss or damage. Not everything needs to be documented, but high-value items like a laptop or camera should be listed and photographed. 

It's also a good idea to keep their receipts scanned and stashed online in cloud-based storage or your email inbox, especially for longer trips when you might need to make a mid-vacation claim. One of these 6 Home Inventory Apps can help keep tabs on gear away or at home.

(Images: Lindsay Tella / Kyle's Cottage in the City)

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