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As a renter, your landlord may require purchasing renters insurance as part of your contract. But even if not required, a renters policy can provide an extra layer of protection for your personal belongings, as well as financial liability if someone is hurt in your home. To make renters insurance work for you, learn how much renters insurance you need and what coverage options are available.

How much renters insurance do I need?

Experts recommend purchasing enough renters insurance to help you replace all of your personal possessions if they are stolen, lost or damaged.

A good way to figure out the value of everything you have is to create a list, or inventory, of all of your possessions and include dates of purchase, serial numbers, appraisal documents and any receipts. Use your cell phone or an app to take photos and save your inventory so that you can add to it if you make any new purchases. Include all expensive items and electronics, including computers, devices, home security systems, jewelry, instruments and any appliances you’ve purchased. Use the internet to identify what it would cost to replace those items, and then use that result to decide the minimum amount of renters insurance coverage you need.

If you have a large dog or a specific dog breed, you may need to purchase additional liability insurance.

How much does renters insurance cost?

According to the latest data available from the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) the average cost of renters insurance is $174 per year, or about $15 per month.

What affects the cost of renters insurance

While the annual cost of renters insurance may be relatively low , several factors will ultimately determine how much your renters insurance policy costs. These include considerations for:

  • ZIP code
  • Credit score
  • Home inventory
  • Deductible
  • Rental size
  • Actual cash value (ACV) vs. replacement cost value (RCV)
  • Security and fire systems
  • Pets
  • Discounts

There may also be other factors that influence your rate, such as the insurer you choose and amount of liability you opt for. By considering factors such as these, you could begin receiving quotes based on your personal selections for a personalized rate.

Is renters insurance worth it?

What does renters insurance cover that makes it worth the cost? It typically includes personal liability protection to pay for attorney fees and damages or medical treatment for someone who is hurt in your rented home, apartment or condo. The liability protection will likely include no-fault medical coverage so that if someone is hurt on your premises, they can submit their medical bills and expenses to your insurance company and you can prevent a lawsuit.

Renters insurance also covers your personal possessions if they are damaged in a covered natural disaster or stolen. It may also reimburse you for items that are lost and stolen from your car or when you are away from home.

While some people may assume that their personal belongings are not worth an additional monthly cost, it may be worthwhile considering the cost of replacing those items in unplanned circumstances that cause damage. You might own a small wardrobe and a few decorative items, for instance, but a theft could cost you upwards of $1,000 for your home office set-up between your television and electronics. This and similar scenarios are why insurance experts recommend insuring your personal property. Renters insurance also generally covers additional living expenses in case you are displaced by a fire or another covered scenario that makes your rental unlivable.

How do I calculate renters insurance coverage?

Determine your desired deductible

The deductible of your renters insurance policy is that amount that you would be responsible for paying before the insurance company covers the rest of the cost. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and you filed a claim for damage from a fire, you would pay $500 towards the repair and the insurance company would pay the remaining cost. The higher the deductible, the lower your insurance premium, but make sure that it’s an amount you’d be comfortable paying out-of-pocket at any time.

Decide if you intend to purchase additional coverage

You can check whether your financial and personal possessions are sufficiently covered if you are affected by a disaster or involved in a lawsuit. If you do not think you have enough coverage on your renters insurance policy, you can also purchase an umbrella policy. This is an additional liability insurance policy that covers you when you reach the limit on your renters or auto insurance policies, and it also covers you for libel and slander.

Off-premises coverage for travelers

If you travel, it might be worth checking that you have off-premises coverage to insure possessions (such as a laptop or cell phone) that you take with you when you travel with the same coverage that you would have if you were using them at home.

Consider adding a floater

If you have expensive items or one-of-a-kind, collectible items like sports memorabilia, original artwork, antiques, expensive jewelry or furs, consider adding a floater to your renters policy. The floater adds additional coverage for more expensive items if they’re lost, damaged or stolen.

Double check your policy for additional living expense coverage

If you live in an area where there are natural disasters like fires or severe thunderstorms, it could be important that your policy includes enough insurance for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). Additional living expenses include paying for a hotel, eating at restaurants and other expenses from having to live away from your rental home while it is being repaired.

Insurers will pay the difference between your regular living expenses and your added living expenses from being displaced after a covered event, but they may only do so for a limited time. Read the fine print to make sure you have enough coverage for any anticipated future disaster. Also, consider checking that your insurance covers things like floods because not all policies cover every type of natural disaster. Flood damage is usually excluded from standard renters insurance policies, but may be purchased either through your provider or directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).