Renters insurance provides financial protection from a wide range of hazards and risks, but not all of them. Here’s a look at some of the most common things that renters insurance does not cover, as well as steps you can take to shore up your protection.

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What does renters insurance not cover?

Renters insurance is usually issued on a named-peril basis, which means your personal property and additional living expense coverages do not apply to hazards and risks not specifically listed in your policy or quote.

Fortunately, the list of covered perils is usually long and covers many of the things that could damage your property or leave your home uninhabitable for a stretch. For example, fire, theft, wind, hail, lightning and even volcanic eruption are typically covered.

However, renters insurance does not cover floods, earthquakes, sinkholes or other earth movements. Instead, you have to purchase separate or additional coverage to protect your belongings from these threats.

Unfortunately, these extra policies don’t always cover additional living expenses, which are any above-normal costs for rent, food or other temporary living expenses after a covered peril leaves your home uninhabitable.

You can usually purchase a contents-only flood insurance policy from the federally managed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private flood insurance provider. NFIP flood insurance does not include coverage for additional living expenses.

Earthquake coverage is often available as an add-on to a renters insurance policy. In California, the California Earthquake Authority offers standalone earthquake insurance to renters. Earthquake insurance usually does include additional living expense coverage.

You won’t see hurricanes or tropical storms among your policy’s named perils, but renters insurance covers a portion of the risks they bring, in the following manner:

  • In all but a few parts of the country, such as Florida’s wind-pool areas, renters insurance covers damage from wind and hail. If your renters insurance policy excludes wind damage, you can usually purchase windstorm coverage separately.
  • The only way to protect your belongings from storm surges or floods that may accompany a hurricane is with a separate flood insurance policy.

The protections in your renters insurance do not extend to roommates, unless they are listed on your policy. If your insurance company does not allow you to include non-related roommates on your policy, your roommates will need their own insurance.

Standard renters insurance usually also limits the personal property coverage it offers for items you use for business purposes.

How does renters insurance cover other types of water damage?

Not only does renters insurance exclude floods, it also only provides limited coverage for other types of water damage.

Your belongings are typically covered if they are damaged or destroyed due to an accidental release of water from a plumbing system, such as a burst pipe or sprinkler system failure.

However, renters insurance usually does not cover damage from mold or an infestation of rodents or other pests. These hazards are usually considered to be the result of poor maintenance or neglect, which are generally not covered by insurance.

Damage from water backups or sump pump failures is usually not covered by a base renters insurance policy. However, you can usually buy an endorsement that adds coverage for these specific risks.

Does renters insurance cover theft from my car?

The theft protection in your renters policy extends to property stolen from your car after a break-in, but there are limitations.

Most policies cap the coverage on belongings away from your home at 10% of your policy’s personal property limit. For example, if you have $40,000 worth of personal property coverage, renters insurance usually provides up to $4,000 in coverage for property in your car.

Renters insurance does not cover damage that your vehicle sustains during a break-in. Your car insurance usually only covers these repairs if your policy includes comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive also covers the car itself if it is stolen.

How does renters insurance cover jewelry and other valuables?

Although renters insurance covers jewelry and other valuables, standard coverage on these items has limitations.

Most policies cap the coverage on theft of jewelry at about $1,500. Similar limits apply to certain other valuables, including furs, silverware and even firearms. However, you can usually purchase extra coverage for these and other valuables with a scheduled personal property floater or a similar other rider or endorsement.

In addition to raising the coverage limits on each item listed on your schedule, personal property floaters usually also include coverage for a wider range of perils than your base renters insurance policy.

What does renters liability and guest medical not cover?

The liability and guest medical coverages in your renters insurance are not limited to a set of named perils, but they typically do not cover liability resulting from business activities or injuries you intentionally cause.

If you operate a business that requires customers or clients to visit your home, you may need to purchase business liability insurance to cover potential injuries they may suffer, in addition to any professional liability coverage you may need.

Your guest medical coverage pays for accidental injuries a guest suffers while visiting your home, regardless of fault. However, it does not apply to your own medical bills or those of others living in your home.

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