What does renters insurance NOT cover?


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UPDATED: 2020-04-17T15:22:45.038Z
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A living room in an apartment covered by renters insurance.

Sometimes it’s easier to remember things when you flip the script a bit. Since renters insurance is so important and yet so affordable, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it covers everything, even though that isn’t the case. In this post we’re going to look at what renters insurance doesn’t cover and what you need to do to address those gaps.

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“Some natural disasters”

This is a prime category for confusion amongst renters, because some disasters are covered and some aren’t. This is why it is so important to understand what is included in your policy, and to consider adding riders for coverage that you think you might need.

For example, if a tornado barrels through your neighborhood and your apartment is damaged, your renters insurance will most likely cover the damage that was caused. Since this natural disaster is covered, it is understandable to think that other disasters would be covered as well.

Understandable, but wrong. Most renters insurance policies exclude some natural disasters, like earthquakes, and virtually all renters policies exclude damage from external flooding.

Flooding can also cause confusion, because some types of water damage ARE covered. Burst pipes that cause damage inside your apartment most likely would be covered by your renters insurance.

In these types of cases, understanding the distinction between the different types of water damage is key to knowing what your renters insurance will cover — and what it won’t.

“Pests, bugs, and other creepy-crawlies”

As with homeowners insurance, most renters insurance policies do not cover pest infestations.

If you have damage caused by rodents or a bedbug infestation, your insurer will most likely categorize these as maintenance issues, rather than a covered peril. Your main recourse if there’s been a bedbug (or other pest infestation) is to check what is required of your landlord in the state where you live. Most states require landlords to provide a standard of “habitable housing” and a pest infestation might violate that standard.

“Your car”

Your renters insurance doesn’t cover your car, even if the car is damaged by a covered peril that destroys your apartment. Your car is covered through your auto insurance, so once the hail storm passes, you might have two claims to make: one for damage to your personal property and another for damage to your vehicle.

This is a good place to drop in a reminder that if you have both your auto and renters insurance through the same insurer, you might qualify for a multi-line discount.

“Your valuables”

Your renters insurance covers your personal property from damage or theft. However, there are limits, especially when it comes to high-ticket items. If you have a diamond engagement ring or other expensive jewelry, a high-end watch, expensive camera or sound equipment, or a pricey gaming laptop computer, these items are likely not going to be covered by your standard renters insurance policy.

You’ll need to get an additional valuable personal property rider added to your base policy for these items to be covered.

“Your roommate”

More precisely, your roommate’s stuff is not covered by your renters insurance policy. Again, this can seem confusing, after all if everything is under one roof and one fire destroys belongings, shouldn’t it all be covered by the same policy?

The answer is no, unless your roommate is your spouse (or, in some cases a family member such as a child), your insurance will not cover your roommate’s belongings if they are damaged by a covered peril.

Your renters insurance covers your belongings and your roommate’s policy covers their belongings.

The good news is that for many of the situations listed above, you can purchase additional coverage so that any potential damage will be covered.

Earthquake insurance can usually be purchased through an additional rider and flood insurance for renters is available through the National Flood Insurance Program in many cases. If you’re driving a car, odds are that you already have a vehicle insurance policy, and, for your valuables you can purchase additional coverage through a personal property rider.

Your roommate should have a separate renters insurance policy to cover his or her personal belongings.

That leaves us with one category, pests and bugs. There are no special bug or infestation riders available, so keep your place clean. And, as mentioned above, if this becomes a problem you may need to see what recourse might be available to you through state law.

If you want to know which renters insurance policies are considered the best, check out the best consumer rankings based on your zip code on our website.

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