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Roughly 45 percent of California housing units are rentals, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For renters, renters insurance may be a valuable policy to have. Renters insurance provides coverage to replace or repair your belongings after a covered claim, plus liability insurance if you are sued or held liable for someone else’s injuries or property damage. In California, Bankrate has found the best renters insurance companies include American Family, USAA, Mercury, Nationwide and Lemonade, based on our assessment. Knowing what coverage types you might need and the average cost of renters insurance can help you find the best coverage and price in California.
- The best renters insurance companies in California are American Family, Mercury, Nationwide, Lemonade and USAA, according to our research.
- The average cost of renters insurance in California is $171 per year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).
- Californians may want to consider optional earthquake insurance and valuables coverage for high-value items for more robust coverage.
Best renters insurance companies in California
To help you find the best renters insurance companies in California, we analyzed property insurance companies using the most recent J.D. Power renters insurance customer satisfaction scores, coverage offerings and available discounts. We also compared each company’s financial strength rating, which shows its history of paying claims. Lastly, we reviewed how many discounts each company lists on its website, which may help California renters save on coverage. It is important to note that discounts may vary by state, and each company may not provide a complete discount list on its website. Talking with a licensed agent or getting a quote is the best way to understand what discounts are available.
If you are searching for the best renters insurance in California, these are the top companies, based on our research:
|Company||J.D. Power||AM Best||Number of discounts available*|
|American Family||Not rated||A||7|
|Lemonade||853 / 1,000||N/A||2|
|Nationwide||859 / 1,000||A+||3|
|USAA**||886 / 1,000||A++||5|
*Check with a licensed agent for exact discount availability
**Not officially ranked with J.D. Power due to eligibility restrictions
Best for optional coverages
Although American Family did not make the list of top insurers in the J.D. Power renters insurance study, California renters may want to consider this carrier. Besides the standard coverage types, AmFam also has optional coverage for pets hurt in a covered loss, home-based businesses, travel protection and identity theft coverage. It also offers a diminishing deductible, which may drop your deductible each renewal after remaining claim-free for the previous policy period.
- Large number of discounts
- Valuable optional coverages
- Not rated by J.D. Power for renters insurance
- No military discount
Learn more: American Family Insurance review
Best for fast claims process
Earning second place in the J.D. Power study, Lemonade is another option for renters in California. It offers a separate earthquake policy for Californians and a Giveback program, which donates unused premiums to a charity of your choice at the end of each year. Lemonade also features AI-supported claims, which allows claims to be paid in seconds. For those wanting a fast and easy claims process completely online or on their phone, Lemonade might be one of the best renters insurance companies in California.
- Fast and easy claims process
- Offers separate earthquake policy
- No AM Best rating
- Minimal discounts listed
Learn more: Lemonade Insurance review
Best for high-value item owners
Mercury is another option for California renters. This carrier has several discounts that could help keep renters insurance premiums low. Mercury also allows renters to customize their policy with coverage options like workers’ compensation coverage for part-time personal employees, service line, home systems, home cyber and identity theft protection. If you have high-value items, you can also schedule them on your Mercury renters insurance policy so they are covered for what they’re worth.
- Large number of discounts
- Multiple ways to customize policy
- Not ranked by J.D. Power for renters insurance
- No online option to file claims
Learn more: Mercury Insurance review
Best for customer satisfaction
Nationwide earned the #1 spot for renters customer satisfaction in the 2022 J.D. Power study. Although it only lists a few discounts on its website, it offers the option to purchase replacement costs on personal property and add credit card or water backup coverage. For those who can make changes to their rental, like upgrading fixtures or adding improvements or making alterations, Nationwide also offers building additions and alterations coverage.
- #1 for renters insurance customer satisfaction
- Long list of optional coverage types
- Few discounts listed
- Cannot file claims online
Learn more: Nationwide Insurance review
Best for military-focused coverage
USAA has a reputation for offering affordable insurance for active-duty military, veterans and qualifying relatives, including its renters insurance policies. You may be eligible for several discounts to lower your premiums even more. One major benefit is that policyholders get flood and earthquake coverage included as standard, whereas most insurance providers only offer these as separate protections for an additional fee. And if you move abroad or get deployed, overseas renters insurance is available to protect your belongings.
- Includes flood and earthquake coverage
- Exceptional J.D. Power rating
- Limited availability
- Pet damage coverage no available
Learn more: USAA Insurance review
Average renters insurance cost in California
The average California renters insurance policy costs $171 per year, according to Triple-I.
Your premium is determined by several factors, including your deductible and coverage limits. Your credit-based insurance score, however, is not a rating factor in California. California’s average cost for renters insurance is just $2 below the national average, which may be because of the number of claims filed in the state and the average payout per claim.
Renters in California pay about the same for renters insurance compared to the surrounding states:
Renters insurance coverage options in California
Renters insurance policies typically provide a few basic coverage types, including:
- Personal property: Personal property coverage covers your personal items if 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 is injured in your home, your personal liability coverage may also pay for their medical bills if you are found responsible.
- Additional living expenses: Additional living expenses coverage pays for the various bills you might incur if your home gets damaged or destroyed and you cannot live there while it is repaired. Some renters insurance policies will also help you cover the cost of moving if the building becomes uninhabitable.
Before purchasing a policy, you may want to understand what is covered under your policy. For example, luxury or high-value items like fine jewelry, art and expensive electronics may have predetermined limits. Unless you add additional coverage, you could be underinsured for those items.
Also, keep in mind that most renters insurance policies do not cover your belongings if they get damaged in an earthquake or flood. For example, if a bookshelf falls on your laptop during an earthquake, you would likely be responsible for paying to repair the laptop. To avoid that, California residents may be able to purchase separate earthquake insurance.
Frequently asked questions
Renters insurance is not required in California, but your landlord may require you to carry coverage as part of the leasing agreement so that you have the liability insurance coverage that your renters policy offers. Since you cannot purchase liability coverage separately, you would likely need to buy a renters insurance policy to satisfy your landlord’s requirements.
The average cost of renters insurance in California is $171 per year, or a little over $14 per month. However, your premium will vary based on very specific rating factors.
The cheapest renters insurance in California will depend on several factors, including your coverage needs, ZIP code, company you choose for insurance and any past property claims history. Getting quotes to compare coverage and pricing from several carriers can help you determine which companies offer the cheapest rates for renters insurance in your area.
You can get renters insurance in California from many insurance companies online, over the phone or in person. You will need to provide your name, date of birth, address and discuss what coverage and limits you want. Every company is different, but getting a renters insurance quote is typically an easy and fast process. An independent agent can get you several quotes at the same time, which may make the process faster.
Although renters insurance is typically less expensive than homeowners insurance, there are still ways you might be able to lower your premium. Taking advantage of any discounts you qualify for could save you money. If you own a car, you may want to consider insuring your auto with the same company as your renters insurance; multi-policy discounts are often one of the largest discounts available. Increasing your deductible, which is the amount you will pay out of pocket if you file a claim, also generally lowers your premium. Just be sure to choose an amount that you can afford to pay if you file a claim.