If you're a renter, a renters insurance policy can help protect you and your stuff. Renters insurance typically covers the theft of personal property inside and outside your rental apartment or home.
This article will cover:
Does renters insurance cover theft?
Renters insurance usually covers personal property that's stolen from both inside and outside of your rental. Your belongings don't even need to be in or around the rental - items in a storage facility, for instance, may be covered by renters insurance from theft. Your belongings are usually also covered if they're stolen while you're on vacation or otherwise away from home.
What items does personal property coverage cover?
Renters insurance will cover most of your belongings if they are stolen. These include:
- Tech items
- Stolen cash (usually only up to $200)
How does renters insurance cover theft?
Your belongings should be covered against theft up to your policy's limit for personal property. For example, if you buy a policy with $25,000 in personal property coverage, you will be reimbursed for up to $25,000 of your belongings, minus your deductible, if they're stolen. If you have $30,000 worth of belongings and your policy limits coverage to $25,000, you would be reimbursed for that $25,000 and have to cover the additional $5,000 out of pocket.
If you borrowed something from a friend and it gets stolen from your apartment, your renters insurance may pay out to replace the item as well.
Does my renters insurance cover theft outside my home?
Renters insurance doesn't just cover your belongings when they're in your apartment or home. It typically provides coverage outside your dwelling, as well. For example:
- If your bicycle is stolen while it's parked outside your rental apartment or home, your renters insurance may replace it.
- If your computer is stolen out of your car, whether it's parked outside your apartment or elsewhere, it should be covered by your renters insurance.
- If someone steals your smartphone while you're riding the bus, renters insurance will typically cover its replacement.
There is no real coverage radius for covered personal property under renters insurance. Whether you're on a business trip in another state or on an international vacation, any covered personal property, like a computer or even luggage, is protected by your renters insurance.
Your renters insurance provider may only cover losses outside your rental apartment or home to a certain limit, depending on the insurance company. Make sure that you understand what this coverage limit is.
While renters insurance covers a wide range of theft loss, it isn't complete coverage. You should be aware of common exclusions in renters insurance policies, including car theft, high-value belongings and undocumented property.
While renters insurance may cover items stolen out of your car, the car itself is not covered by the policy. You need auto insurance to cover your car against theft.
High-value personal property
If you have expensive items, your renters insurance provider may only cover them to a certain dollar limit. If you need higher coverage limits, look into an insurance rider or specialized insurance.
Undocumented personal property
If you do not have proof that you owned a stolen item, you may be out of luck. An easy way to avoid this is to put together an inventory list of your belongings for your renters insurance company.
A renters insurance policy covers the policyholder, not the apartment. If you live with a roommate, they would have to have their own renters insurance to be covered in the event of a burglary, for example.
While you can get a policy that covers you and a roommate, your renters insurance company will split the payout after a claim. You're usually much better off having your own renters insurance. Furthermore, sharing a renters insurance policy with a roommate isn't permitted in all states.
Replacement cost vs. actual cash value
If you file a theft claim, you may receive the replacement cost or the actual cash value back. Your payout for a claim varies a lot depending on whether you have a replacement cost or an actual cash value home insurance policy.
Replacement cost is based on how much it would cost to replace the item today, while actual cash value is based on the current cost of the covered item minus depreciation.
Filing a renters insurance claim for theft
If you have to file a renters insurance claim for theft, it's not as cut and dry as just contacting your insurance provider and starting the claim process. There are a couple of other steps beforehand that you should be aware of:
Contact your landlord
Alerting your landlord after a theft has occurred is often a condition in leases and required in many states. Furthermore, your landlord may be liable for repairs that need to be made after a break-in.
File a police report
After a burglary occurs, your renters insurance policy will probably require you to file a report with your local police department before contacting your provider. The police report provides evidence of the theft that your insurance company will reference. A police report is usually only required for renters insurance claims involving theft.
Contact your renters insurance company
Call your renters insurance provider and start the claim process. You will want to have an inventory list of the stolen items for the company to calculate your claim from. Your provider will also probably request the police report number, as well.
Your renters insurance company will then provide you with the necessary forms to initiate the claim. Find out what the time frame is to return the claim forms, and make sure to adhere to that timeline.
How much personal property coverage should I get?
We recommend creating a list of all your items and their dollar values to find out how much personal property coverage is needed. You can then total the value of all your items from this list and send it to your insurance company in the event that you need to file a claim in the future.
Creating an inventory
If your belongings are stolen, you'll need proof to file a claim. You should have a record of your belongings and their respective values. We recommend having photographs and videos, descriptions, item models or serial numbers and receipts of your belongings.
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