Do I Really Need Renter’s Insurance?

updated Jul 26, 2023
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Moving into a new apartment or getting ready to rent a room and have questions about renter’s insurance? You’re not alone — plenty of people wonder what exactly a renter’s insurance policy is and whether or not it’s worth adding to the budget. 

According to one insurance agent, renter’s insurance is a must-have for any tenant — no matter whether you’re leasing a posh high-rise apartment or crashing for free in a friend’s spare room. Here’s what he says you need to know about this type of coverage.

What is renter’s insurance?

According to Michael Silverman, president and CEO of Silver Lining Insurance Agency, a renter’s insurance policy “is one that predominantly provides protection for a tenant’s personal property.” These types of policies cover very specific things (Silverman describes the coverage spectrum as covering “everything that [you] move in with”), and give renters an added layer of protection in the event of theft or damage.

Unlike the policies that protect the person or company that owns the structure you live in, renter’s insurance policies protect the tenant’s personal items, making it an important added layer of protection.

What’s covered by renter’s insurance?

A renter’s insurance policy has limitations as to what it will cover (for example, it doesn’t cover the building or appliances that came with your home), but there are some basics Silverman says most policies include. Some examples are as follows:

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Furnishings
  • Pots and pans
  • Bed linens
  • Televisions
  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • Dishes
  • Much more!

An additional benefit of having renter’s insurance is having liability coverage. “Liability is the damage to someone or someone’s property caused by the insured’s negligence,” Silverman explains. “This liability follows the tenant wherever they go. If they hurt someone outside the apartment: covered. If someone gets hurt in the apartment: covered.” 

Silverman says that most tenants will even have coverage if they damage someone else’s property, like if they leave the water running and flood the apartment below theirs. 

What’s not covered by renter’s insurance?

There’s nothing more frustrating than having some sort of a loss and finding out your policy doesn’t cover it, which is why it’s important to talk to your agent ahead of time to find out what you’ll be able to claim in the event of an emergency. Silverman says there are a few things that are almost never included in a typical policy.

Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

How much does renter’s insurance cost?

Policies are usually priced out based on the level of coverage you need, which is determined by the contents you are insuring (your belongings), your liability, and “the tenant’s insurance score,” which Silverman says is similar to a credit score. 

“Generally premiums can range, for full coverage, from $250 to $750 per year and can have a wide range,” he says. 

Where do I buy renter’s insurance? 

While Silverman says you can easily find a policy just by signing up for one online, he recommends opting to work directly with an insurance agent. 

“The agent can and should guide the tenant through a series of quick questions to find the best policy and premium (with options) available,” he says, adding that it’s very important to build a relationship with your insurance advisor or agent. “This person can and should be available via phone, text, email to answer questions or concerns plus educate a first-time renter or home buyer around the options that exist.”