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What Does Renters Insurance Cover? A Quick [Expert] Overview

Read time: 3.5 minutes


When you looked over your lease agreement, you probably saw a section explaining that your building is insured. That section is referring to the insurance policy your landlord has on the building.

Of course, it’s important that your building is insured. However, it’s also important to know that their insurance policy does not generally cover your personal possessions.

That’s where renters insurance comes in.


What does renters insurance cover?

Renters insurance covers your personal property, additional living expenses and personal liability. The best part is, it follows you wherever you go! Of course, there are a few situations this may not apply so talk to your agent.

Let’s take a look at each of these base coverages.


Personal Property coverage: Covers your personal possessions anywhere in the world (subject to certain limitations).

If your belongings are damaged or stolen, this coverage can pay to replace them. This goes beyond your home. Your personal belongings are covered anywhere in the world. If your belongings are damaged or stolen while you’re traveling, your renters insurance policy may cover the cost to replace them.

This coverage may apply when your belongings are damaged or lost by:

  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Theft
  • Water damage (exclusions apply)
  • Vandalism
  • And others (listed in your policy)

Typically, this coverage will pay you the item’s depreciated value. So, if your six-year-old laptop is stolen, this coverage pays the cost to purchase a six-year-old laptop today. This will be less than what you originally paid because of depreciation.

If you’re looking through the items at your place and realizing the depreciated value may leave you with more out of pocket expense than you’d like, consider adding our Personal Property Replacement Cost coverage. This coverage allows you to make an additional claim for the depreciation that was applied once your item is replaced or your property is repaired.

Read more: Insurance Claim: What It Is, How to Start, and What Happens Next


Additional Living Expenses: Covers costs you may incur if you are unable to stay in your rented apartment/home after sustaining significant damage.

The bird's-eye view of a wet staircase leading to a flooded basement with a bucket at the bottom.
If your apartment/home is damaged and unfit to live in, you may need to stay somewhere else. Some of the costs of your hotel stay, food and other necessary items can be reimbursed with this coverage.

This coverage may also apply when part of your home isn’t able to function as intended. For example, your home may still be fit to reside in but your kitchen is no longer functional because of the damage covered in your claim. In this case, the additional living expenses coverage may pay for some of your food costs.

Read more: How to Keep Pipes From Freezing & How to Fix Them


Personal Liability: Provides coverage, anywhere in the world, for damages you become legally obligated to pay arising out of bodily injury, personal injury or property damage as well as the cost of legal defense.

Nobody wants to be responsible for somebody getting hurt at your place. But, when your friend manages to mess up their knee while playing charades, this coverage can come in handy!


Other situations your liability coverage may be helpful, include:

  1. When somebody slips and falls in your apartment
  2.  Careless use of a grill resulting in damage to your neighbor’s house

When you’re away from home, your liability coverage can also help in situations like when you drive a golf ball into somebody’s window while playing a round.


Medical Payments to Others: Provides coverage for others who are injured at your residence.

Beyond the legal ramifications of injuries that may happen to your guests on your property, your renters insurance may also provide medical payments to others. This coverage can apply to injuries that occur on your rented property, or nearby, to pay for your guest’s resulting medical expenses. 


Optional Coverages

Beyond these coverages included in most base renters insurance policies, you can usually add on optional coverages. For our policies this includes:

  • Special Personal Property: Covers additional causes of loss to personal possessions (like loss or misplacement of items).
  • Scheduled Personal Property: You can add specific items, such as jewelry, items you collect, recreational vehicles and watercraft with this coverage.
  • Personal Property Replacement Cost: Covers repair or replacement of your personal property. This allows you to claim the depreciation back at the time of replacement.
  • Renters Plus (not available in NC): Covers refrigerated products, water backup of sewers or drains, and waterbed liability coverage. This is helpful when you lose power and your food spoils.


A living room with damage to the glass door, decorations, printer and signs of missing items.
What does a landlord’s insurance policy cover?

Let’s look at an example.

You return to your apartment after a nice weekend getaway to find that your living room window is shattered! After further examination, you notice your laptop is missing and somebody has clearly gone through your things! Not the relaxing evening back at home you expected.

Read more: Do You Know What to Do After a House Robbery?


Assuming you have renters insurance with replacement cost coverage and your landlord has insurance on the building, here’s how things will likely play out:

Your landlord’s insurance may cover: The cost to replace the window and residual damage to your walls or floors.

Your renters insurance may cover: The cost to purchase a replacement for your laptop.

Without renters insurance, you are primarily responsible for any costs to replace your items. Your landlord’s insurance is there typically to cover the building, not your belongings.

Finding a renters insurance policy that’s best for you (and your budget) doesn’t have to take hours of comparison shopping. You’ve got better things to do!

That is why we work with local, independent agents. They are trained and licensed professionals that work with many insurance carriers, rather than just one. This means expert and personalized guidance for you and far less time researching. Find an agent to get started.


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*Products referenced may not be approved/available in all states. Limitations and conditions may apply. Premium will be based on benefits chosen and policy rates available at time of application.

Disclaimer: This article is not expert advice. The analysis of coverage is in general terms and is superseded in all respects by the Insuring Agreements, Endorsements, Exclusions, Terms and Conditions of the Policy. Some of the coverage mentioned in this material may not be applicable in all states or may have to be modified to conform to applicable state law. Some coverages may have been eliminated or modified since the publishing of this material. Discounts may not be available in all states. Limitations and conditions may apply. Premiums will be based on benefits chosen. Please check with your local Independent Auto-Owners Insurance Agent for details."