If you live in an apartment and a leak from the ceiling damages your covered belongings, a standard renters insurance policy should cover their repair or replacement. Accidental overflow and water are usually points of coverage; however, water damage due to a flood or backed-up sewage aren't. But there are renters insurance policy add-ons you can purchase to provide coverage.
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Will renters insurance cover my ceiling leak?
Your renters insurance covers your personal property in the event of a ceiling leak, up to your policy coverage limits. Renters insurance covers damages to your belongings due to certain perils, including:
- Weight of ice, snow and sleet
So, if a windstorm damages the roof of your apartment building, allowing rain water to leak in, the damages the water causes to your stuff should be covered. However, if your belongings are damaged because you left a window open during a rainstorm, that would not be covered by your renters insurance policy.
Replacement of your belongings isn't the only coverage your renters insurance provides after a ceiling leak or other water damage occurs. If the apartment owner sues you for damage that occurs in your home, the liability coverage portion of your renters insurance will cover your court expenses up to your policy limit whether you win the case or not. This coverage also includes payment for damages the court orders you to pay if you are found responsible.
Furthermore, if you need to move out of your apartment while the water damage is being repaired, the loss of use, also known as "additional living expenses," portion of your renters insurance policy will help cover additional rent costs of a temporary home while the repairs are made. Loss of use also includes:
- Additional food costs
- Extra commute costs due to the relocation
- Furniture rental
Renters insurance water damage exclusions
Water damage due to negligence, flooding and sewer backup are commonly excluded in standard renters insurance policies. If water damage occurs to your carpet and furniture due to you leaving your window open during a rainstorm or leaving your faucet turned on, your claim will be denied. Renters insurance only covers sudden and accidental damages, which negligence does not fall under.
If a water backup from a sewage line or seeping water under the building slab causes damage to your personal property, it will not be covered by renters insurance either. Some renters insurance companies do provide riders for sewage backup that can be added onto a renters insurance policy, so it helps to shop around when looking for renters insurance.
If you're subletting your apartment and water damage occurs while you are not living in it, the damages will not be covered.
What water damages does my landlord cover?
It's important to keep in mind that your renters insurance policy only provides coverage for your own personal property. Your landlord is responsible for your apartment's:
- Plumbing and electrical systems
Damages done to these parts of the apartment due to covered perils, such as extreme weather, are covered under their landlord insurance covered perils. The majority of rental agreements do not hold tenants responsible for their apartment's structural issues. Insurance providers work on the assumption that any potential leaks or other damages will be taken care of during the landlord's routine maintenance. Any leaking ceilings or other structural damage to the apartment unit or rental home is the landlord's responsibility.
Unfortunately, neither renters insurance or landlord insurance cover flood damage. If you live in a designated flood zone by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), your renters insurance provider can sell you flood insurance. If they are not part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), they can probably recommend a company that can provide flood insurance for renters.
Is renters insurance worth it?
Many rental agreements include the requirement for tenants to have renters insurance. However, even if it's not a requirement, getting a renters insurance policy is an excellent investment. It provides an array of coverage at an affordable price. The average cost of renters insurance is $219 a year. This comes out to about $18 a month to cover your personal belongings, liability — if you're responsible for damages or injuries — and loss of use coverage to help with relocation costs.
To put the price of a renters insurance policy versus the coverage it provides into perspective, create an inventory of your belongings along with their replacement costs. You don't really know the actual value of your belongings until you can have that total in front of you, and chances are the dollar value is more than you expect. Furthermore, having this list can give you an accurate amount of property coverage you would need when you do get a renters insurance policy. It may even speed up the claim-filing process and payout with your provider.
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