If water from a ceiling leak damages your personal property, renters insurance usually takes care of it. Most renters insurance policies cover you against sudden water damage caused by accidental overflow and water discharge. Damage due to instances such as flooding or sewage water are not typically covered. However, add-on coverage for these perils is often available.

This article covers:

Does renters insurance cover water damage from bad weather?

Renters insurance can help protect your personal belongings from certain perils. These perils include:

  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Windstorms
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet

If your belongings are damaged from rain, you may be covered under the windstorm and hail coverages. For example, if your window is broken due to wind or hail, then your renters policy would cover the damage to your personal property. However, if you leave your window open, then your policy wouldn't cover the damage resulting from rain getting through your window.

Floods and earthquakes are typically not covered, and they would require additional coverage.

The personal property coverage under a standard renters insurance policy protects your belongings if they are damaged by a covered peril. Belongings that are protected include jewelry, televisions and laptops.

Does renters insurance cover water damage from accidental discharge of water or steam?

A standard renters insurance policy covers damage to your personal property caused by accidental water overflow and discharge. This means that if water leaks from the roof or ceiling down into your apartment and ruins your furniture, your renters insurance would cover it.

Household appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine are also covered if these appliances leak and cause damage. If water from a toilet overflow damages your personal property, renters insurance usually takes care of it as well.

If accidental water damage occurs in your apartment or home and you're sued by your rental owner for damages, the liability portion of your renters insurance should cover your court costs, up to your policy limits, regardless of whether you win or lose. Any damages the court requires you to pay are covered up to your limits as well.

Does renters insurance cover living expenses after water damage?

If your rental unit is destroyed by water damage and you have to move out, the loss of use (also known as "additional living expenses") portion of your renters insurance policy can help cover additional rental costs while you find a new home. It can also cover other costs due to relocation, such as food, laundry and added commuting costs if you relocate farther from work.

Which types of water damage does renters insurance exclude?

Renters insurance policies generally exclude water damage caused by flooding, negligence or sewage backup. They also usually don't cover water damage that occurs while subletting an apartment you're not living in at the moment.

1. Renters insurance will not cover water damage caused by your own negligence, on purpose or over long periods of time. This is because renters insurance is designed to cover sudden and accidental damage.

For example, if you leave a window open and your carpet and couch are ruined by rainwater, your renters insurance claim may be denied. The same goes if you leave a faucet running and it soaks your apartment.

2. Water backup from a sewage line or water seepage from under the building's slab is not covered by a renters policy either. Your renters insurance company may provide a rider for sewage backup coverage that can be added to your policy.

3. Renters insurance doesn't cover water damage from flooding.

Your landlord isn't responsible for it as well. If you live in a FEMA-designated flood zone, you should be able to purchase flood damage coverage through any insurance company that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

 4. If you sublet an apartment you rent and water damage occurs while you are not living in the rental, the damage would not be covered.

All coverage exclusions are listed in detail in your policy.

Which types of water damage is my landlord responsible for?

Should your apartment be damaged by water, keep in mind that your renters insurance only covers your own personal property. All damage to the actual structure, plumbing and electrical systems or appliances of your apartment unit or rental home due to water is up to the landlord.

Also, most rental agreements don't hold renters personally liable for structural issues in the building they live in. Insurance providers assume that any potential leaks will be taken care of by your landlord as part of their routine maintenance. All damage to the structure of your apartment unit or rental home due to water is up to the landlord.

Is renters insurance worth it in case of water damage?

Renters insurance is worth purchasing because it protects you against costly replacements or repairs for an affordable price. Renters insurance costs an average of $179 a year. When you consider the range of coverage that renters insurance provides, it offers excellent protection. Landlords may also require renters to purchase renters insurance as part of a rental agreement.

Since your personal property is a major part of your renters insurance coverage, it's important to have a sound overview of what you actually own. The best way to achieve this is to create a home inventory list. Include details of any makes, models, serial numbers and costs of the items you own. Not only will this give you an accurate idea of how much personal property coverage you need, but it can speed up your claim filing and payout processes with your renters insurance company.

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