Living in California can be incredibly expensive, from sky-high housing costs, to the price of gas and even groceries. As a result, many Californians choose to rent their home or apartment to keep costs low. But renting comes with its own set of risks, so having renters insurance is important.
Renters insurance covers your personal belongings in the event of a covered peril, like fire, smoke damage, theft, vandalism and certain weather events. However, California residents should know that basic policies do not cover losses from earthquakes, which are a threat to many homes in the state.
Whether you’ve recently started renting or have been renting your home for many years, it’s never too late to get coverage. But there are a few things you should keep in mind as you’re shopping for a renters insurance plan. Have an inventory of your personal belongings and their original value and an idea of how much you can afford to pay for your deductible to help you find the best option for your needs
Best renters insurance companies in California
Finding the best California renters insurance for your needs and your budget can be difficult. There are tons of insurance providers out there, so how do you know which one will provide the best value? To simplify your shopping experience, we compiled a list of the best renters insurance companies in California.
These insurance providers were chosen based on rankings from J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Renters Insurance Study and were evaluated for their excellence in overall satisfaction, policy offerings, price, customer service, billing and claims handling.
- Allstate: Allstate provides California residents with reliable renters insurance coverage at an affordable price. The company, and is known for offering steep discounts.
- American Family: American Family was the highest-rated renters insurance company by J.D. Power, earning 5 out of 5 ratings in every category.
- Nationwide: Nationwide received 2 out of 5 stars across the board in J.D. Power’s renters insurance study, but is known for offering exceptional auto insurance.
- State Farm: State Farm was the second runner-up in J.D. Power’s study, which was ranked highly for its policy offerings, price and claims handling system.
We also compared these four provider’s J.D. Power ratings to rankings from other market research firms. See how American Family, State Farm, Allstate and Nationwide were ranked by AM Best and the Better Business Bureau (BBB):
|J.D. Power||AM Best||BBB|
|American Family||5 out of 5||A||A|
|State Farm||5 out of 5||A++||A+|
|Allstate||2 out of 5||A+||A+|
|Nationwide||2 out of 5||A+||A+|
Average renters insurance cost in California
According to data from the Insurance Information Institute (III), the average renters insurance premium in California will set you back about $182 per year, which is roughly $15 per month. But if you’re in the market for renters insurance, remember that the state-wide average isn’t necessarily what you can expect to pay.
The cost of your premium is determined by a long list of factors, including your zip code, the size of your home, how many people live there, your deductible and your coverage limit. Even things like your gender, age, marital status and credit score will impact how much you pay.
To breakdown the costs for each provider on our list, we got sample insurance quotes for a single female, age 26, who lives in Palo Alto, California. She has been claims-free for the past two years, is employed, and has no pets. These quotes include $20,000 in personal property coverage and a $500 deductible:
- State Farm: $130
- American Family: $186
- Allstate: $200
- Nationwide: $208
The data from III determined that California ranks 32nd on the list of the most expensive states for renters insurance. At about $15 per month on average, it’s affordable. The table below breaks down the cost of renters insurance in California compared to nearby states:
As you can see, the cost of California renters insurance is slightly higher than the states around it. The main reason for the price difference is that homes in California are susceptible to earthquake damage, which can be costly for insurance companies. As a result, insurance premiums are more expensive to compensate for the potential losses that are less prevalent in states like Nevada or Oregon.
Renters insurance coverage options in California
As you’re shopping for renters insurance, understand exactly what each policy will cover. Here are the three main coverage areas that a basic renters insurance policy will provide:
- Personal property: Personal property coverage specifically protects your personal items in the event that they get damaged or destroyed by a covered peril. This includes furniture, clothing, certain electronics and appliances.
- Personal liability: Personal liability coverage helps you pay to repair or replace someone else’s belongings if you accidentally damage them. If a guest injures themselves in your home, your personal liability coverage would also pay for their medical bills, if you are found responsible.
- Additional living expenses: Additional living expenses coverage will pay for your hotel and restaurant bills if your home gets damaged or destroyed and you’re unable to live there for a time. Some renters insurance plans will also help you cover the cost of moving if the building becomes uninhabitable.
Before purchasing a policy, renters should know what is covered under their plan. For example, luxury or high-value items like fine jewelry, art and expensive electronics generally are not covered under standard policies. You’ll need to purchase additional coverage for those items.
Also keep in mind that renters insurance does not cover your belongings if they get damaged in an earthquake or flood. For example, if a heavy bookshelf falls on your brand-new laptop during an earthquake and gets damaged, you are responsible for paying to repair the laptop out-of-pocket. To avoid that, California residents can purchase separate earthquake insurance, or hazard insurance, which provides extra coverage for damage caused by extreme weather and natural disasters.
Frequently asked questions
Is renters insurance required in California?
Renters insurance is not required in California, or in any state. However, given the low cost, having renters insurance is encouraged by most landlords.
Is renters insurance expensive?
No, renters insurance is not expensive. It’s one of the most affordable types of insurance you can purchase, and it can save you a lot of money in the long run by having it.
What is the cheapest renters insurance in California?
There isn’t one specific insurance provider that will offer the lowest premiums to every resident in California. The amount you’ll pay for renters insurance depends on factors, including your home’s location, size, what it’s built with, if you have pets, your claims history, and even your age and gender.
How do I get renters insurance in California?
Most insurance providers today can provide an online quote for no cost. You’ll be required to submit some personal information like your name, age, marital status, claims history and contact information. You’ll also be asked about the home you want to insurance, including where it’s located, how many people live there and any safety features it has.
How can I save money on my renters insurance?
Renters insurance is inexpensive to begin with, but there are additional ways to save. Most insurance companies offer discounts for bundling your policies, remaining claims-free and raising your deductible. You can also expect to save money by increasing your credit score.