Does Renters Insurance Cover Theft?

So, you rent a home or apartment and fell victim to theft. What now? If you have renters insurance, you’re in luck – it covers many types of theft.

couple reporting apartment theft

Renters insurance covers your personal property from theft, both in and out of your home or apartment. If you’re the victim of theft, a renters insurance policy reimburses you for your belongings up to your coverage limits.

It’s pretty simple: if you’re a renter, you should purchase renters insurance. It covers many things, including your possessions in case of theft or damage. Your landlord is responsible for insuring the physical structure you live in, but protecting your stuff is up to you.

Of course, like all types of insurance, there are always exceptions to what is and isn’t covered. This article touches on how renters insurance covers theft, and situations that aren’t covered.

When Does Renters Insurance Cover Theft?

Your renters insurance covers your belongings from many perils, including theft. A standard policy covers theft of personal property valued up to your coverage limits. For most people, that’s enough to cover pretty much all standard theft cases. For example, if someone breaks into your home and makes off with a bag of clothes, renters insurance has you covered (assuming your closet isn’t full of high-end designer clothes, that is).

But valuables like jewelry, electronics, and cash come with a capped coverage limit. Though you’re almost always covered, a standard renters policy only reimburses you up to a set amount for each type of item. We’ll discuss coverage limits for specific items in greater detail shortly.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Items Stolen Outside My Home?

Your renters insurance personal property coverage doesn’t only apply to items stolen from your home. It also covers theft of your belongings away from home.

Imagine someone breaks into your car and steals your computer. Or, you leave your phone on a table at a coffee shop and someone takes it. In both these situations, your renters insurance will reimburse you for the stolen items. Since your belongings are considered insured property, they are protected inside and outside your home. That means, even if you’re on vacation when your laptop is stolen, your policy still covers it.

Certain exemptions could apply, so be sure to read your policy or contact your provider for specifics before heading out on a big trip.

What Items Does Renters Insurance Not Cover?

Stolen cars are an exception to your renters insurance policy. Insurance companies expect you to protect your car with an auto insurance policy. But if a thief shatters your car window and steals your backpack, your car insurance pays for the window, while your renters insurance covers the backpack.

Also, renters insurance won’t cover stolen items if they don’t belong to you.  If someone steals something from your apartment that belongs to a friend, for example, don’t expect your insurance to pay for it.

Many renters policies won’t cover unique or antique items, too.  

Finally, your renters insurance won’t cover stolen items that exceed your policy’s coverage amount. Your specific coverage limit depends on the policy you choose, but according to USAA the average amount of personal property coverage for a two bedroom apartment starts at $20,000. If you have a $20,000 limit on your renters insurance’s personal property coverage, don’t expect to get reimbursed for $25,000 worth of stolen goods.

Renters Insurance Personal Property Coverage Limits

Remember, every policy has specific sub-limits for items like jewelry, electronics, and more. These are separate from your policy’s overall personal property limit. Having a renters policy with $25,000 in personal property coverage does not mean a $5,000 wedding ring is covered, for example.

A renters policy comes with coverage sub-limits for specific types of items. Here are some common renters insurance coverage limits for a standard policy:

  • Electronics: $1,500
  • Jewelry: $1,500
  • Cash: $200

You can add a rider for specific high-value items. This is a must if you own unique items, collectables, or lots of valuables.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost

There are two types of renters insurance policies that influence how you’re repaid for stolen belongings: actual cash value and replacement cost.

Actual Cash Value: reimburses you for the stolen items minus the amount of depreciation, up to your policy limit. For example, a five-year-old MacBook would be replaced, but only for the amount it is worth after that age and use, not how much you bought it for five years ago.

Replacement Cost: pays the actual cost of replacing your stolen possessions without considering depreciation, up until the limit of your policy. That means that your five-year-old Mac would be replaced for the actual cost you bought it for.

Many renters prefer Replacement Cost because it pays for the full value of the item without considering age or use. However, Replacement Cost policies can cost up to 10 percent more than Actual Cash Value policies.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Your Roommates Stuff?

Short answer: no. Renters insurance policies don’t extend to roommates, unless they’re your spouse. So, if they’re not included on your policy before the break-in, they’re out of luck. Most insurance companies allow you to add one non-relative to your policy. But it’s not a good idea to share renters insurance with a roommate.

How to File a Renters Insurance Claim After a Theft

One of the most important parts of a renters insurance claim after theft is notifying the police. If you don’t file a police report, your claim may look suspicious. Insurance companies don’t want to risk any fraudulent insurance claims, and failing to report a theft to the police is a red flag. This is the most common cause of denials for renters insurance claims. The best way to ensure a smooth claims process is by filing a police report.

According to III, the next step is to call your insurance company or agent to find out:

  • If you need to file a claim within a certain amount of time
  • If your coverage is adequate for what was stolen
  • If your claim exceeds your deductible
  • How long it will take to process the claim

Be sure to take an inventory of what is missing and how much you bought it for. Take photos and video of any items were damaged during the theft, as you can be reimbursed for those items too. It’s also a good idea to collect any receipts you may have from the original purchase of the stolen items. And if the total loss is close to your deductible amount, consider not filing a claim. That can raise your rates, and if you need to pay for the deductible anyways, it may not be worth filing a claim. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does renters insurance cover bike theft?

A: If your bike is stolen, your renters insurance policy has you covered! That’s assuming your bike’s value doesn’t exceed your coverage limits. If you have expensive equipment like a high-end bike that exceeds your policy limits, ask your insurance company about adding coverage.

Q: Will renters insurance cover all my stolen items?

A: It depends on your policy. For most people, personal belongings usually fit within policy limits. That means their stolen items will be reimbursed. But if you have expensive or rare items, consider increasing your coverage limits or adding a rider. If you’re unsure of what your policy limit should be, taking an inventory of your stuff is the easiest way to find out.

Q: Do I have to file a police report to get my renters insurance claim approved?

A: If you want to ensure the claims process will go as smoothly as possible, reporting the theft to the police is necessary. If you are the victim of a theft, this is the natural next step in the process. It can look fraudulent if you don’t file a police report.

Q: Does my renters insurance cover my stuff when I go on vacation?

A: Yes, your renters insurance follows you and your belongings wherever you go. That’s because it considers those items insured and therefore included no matter where they travel. This can give you peace of mind on your next vacation, because your luggage is covered under your policy if it’s stolen. Just make sure to read over your policy before you head out on a big trip- you don’t want to miss any big exclusions!

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