Renter's Insurance

Tenants, or "renters," are open to the same risks and losses as property owners when property is damaged or destroyed by things like fire, or when it's lost because of theft. Property insurance can help to guard against such losses. But, tenants and property owners have different interests that can be insured.

Usually, a tenant does not have an insurable interest in leased premises, like an apartment or house, that would allow him or to obtain insurance on the structure if it were damaged by fire or other natural causes. Ordinarily, the owner of the premises has insurance to cover damage to the structure.

However, the owner's insurance policy will only cover the structure. A tenant's personal property - your TV, computer, and clothes - will not be covered under the owner's policy.

So, if you're a renter, you need to consider getting a renter's insurance policy. This insurance will provide coverage for most of, but not all, property damages that a tenant suffers.

What's Not Covered

A renter's insurance policy will cover the contents of the leased premises that are damaged due to a covered risk, such as fire, certain weather conditions, like hail, and vandalism or theft. Normally, covered risks do not include things like earthquakes or hurricanes.

In addition, renter's insurance usually won't cover losses that are caused by the tenant's own negligence or intentional acts. So, for example, if your apartment is damaged by a fire or smoke that was caused when you fell asleep while smoking a cigarette, your renter's insurance probably won't cover your damages.

What's Covered

Renter's insurance policies typically cover losses of personal property that are located on the leased premises. The amount of the loss covered will depend on whether you got a simple policy with a set limit of coverage, or a policy that lists the items of personal property and their value.

Policies that specify the items of personal property are usually obtained when a tenant has valuable antiques, musical instruments, jewelry, or firearms. As you might expect, the premium for such policies increases with the value or the type of items insured.

In addition, some renter's policies cover a tenant's living expenses in the event that the leased premises become uninhabitable due to a covered risk. Other provisions may include coverage for medical expenses incurred when a tenant sustains injuries on the leased premises, as well as claims made against the tenant by others who are injured on the premises.

For example, under some policies, the insurance company will pay for the medical expenses when the tenant's guest is injured while he or she is on the leased premises, say, for instance, when the guest slips and falls down the steps inside your apartment.

Questions For Your Attorney

  • If I own a house and rent part of it and live in the other part, do I need renter's insurance?
  • I don't have renter's insurance and my personal property was damaged in a fire that was caused by the landlord's negligence. If his insurance won't cover it, I can sue the landlord, right?
  • As a landlord, can I make a tenant get renter's insurance before I agree to lease him an apartment?
Related Resources on Lawyers.comsm

- Property Insurance articles and information
- Visit our Landlord & Tenant message board for more help

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