First things first, renters insurance protects you from three different types of things:
1. Things that happen to your stuff
2. Things that other people hold you responsible for (and expect you to pay for)
3. Things that force you out of your place
Now, what’s covered (and what’s not) is a bit trickier.
For example, if your upstairs neighbor forgets to turn off the water in their tub and your apartment is flooded, you’re most likely covered. However let’s say your apartment is flooded because of a freakish storm surge – anything damaged is on you, and isn’t covered by your insurance agency.
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, it’s all water, so what gives?” Well, insurance provides coverage for 16 bad things – ‘named perils’ in insurance lingo – and it just so happens that accidental flooding is one of them, while natural disasters isn’t.
Turns out, a lot of your policy is filled with weird exceptions and rules. This is mostly because the industry is so old and many rules and regulations were established when phones hung on walls and letters were the main medium of writing to someone (i.e. not for our electronics-driven lives today).
Not to worry, though. We’re here to provide answers to some of the top q’s renters are asking about what is and isn’t covered by their insurance.
1. Does renters insurance cover flooding?
As we mentioned above, renters insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Bummer? Well, not completely. While flooding refers to weather-related events, issues that involve water damage to your place that aren’t caused by mother nature are most likely covered by renters insurance. In other words, you’re not covered for flooding from the outside-in, but your insurance policy has your back during flooding from the inside-out, like burst pipes, that overflowing bathtub we mentioned earlier, leaky AC units, and so on.
While the government is the sole provider of flood insurance, you can usually add on this type of coverage through your insurance provider. If you live in an area prone to flooding (i.e. you own a sump pump or use the word ‘levee’ frequently), we suggest you check out your community’s flood map and seriously consider getting flood insurance if you’re in an at-risk area.
For more info on flooding, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program has a pretty good Q&A section.
2. Does renters insurance cover theft?
Yep! And what’s cool about this one is that your insurer will cover your stuff both at home and everywhere else. So if you put a pair of earrings in a hotel safe and they’re stolen while you’re out to dinner, you’ll be covered!
There are a few things to note here, though: 1) Stuff that’s stolen in an area under construction isn’t covered, as well as other people’s stuff stolen at your place (including your roomie’s stuff) isn’t covered and 2) most of the more expensive stuff you own will be covered, but only up to a certain amount (that’s where your Extra Coverage would kick in).
Some common maximum coverage amounts you can select for your typical HO4 policy (insurance speak for renters insurance policy) include up to: $1,500 for loss by theft of jewelry and watches; $2,500 for loss by theft of silverware, tea sets, trophies, and other stuff made of precious material, and $500 for when someone uses your credit card without your permission, or when someone steals your credit card (or a device that allows access to your cc) and uses is for themselves… think: cash withdrawals, transferring money, and more.
3. Does renters insurance cover water damage?
Sort of… Let’s say your apartment sprinklers go off, soaking all of your stuff. You’re covered. Frozen pipes burst in the winter? Yep, that’s covered too. Sewer backs up? Nope, that generally is not covered, so you’ll need to chase down your landlord for your damages.
Water damages that are covered include the accidental overflow of water or steam from within your plumbing, heating, AC, or sprinkler system. Basically anything in your place that suddenly causes a flood without any known issues from the inside-out (as we mentioned above) is covered.
4. Does renters insurance cover bed bugs?
Nope. Kinda like the exceptions for water damage listed above, things that fall under “standard maintenance” aren’t covered under renters insurance, and bedbugs are a part of that! This includes any other unwelcome insect or pest for that matter.
Why aren’t these pesky creatures or any of their verminy cousins covered? Well, renters insurance is designed to protect you from sudden, unexpected, major losses. Bed bugs don’t just come all at once, which means that you have the ability to take care of the issue before it becomes catastrophic.
GoodHousekeeping has some A+ recommendations when it comes to finding and eradicating bed bugs at home and while on vaca – we highly recommend!
5. Does renters insurance cover hurricane damage?
Yes, for the most part. Hurricanes are sort of strange. In some states, like Rhode Island, you’ll have a Hurricane Deductible as a part of your standard renters insurance policy. In others, like New Jersey, some policies may include a separate, mandatory, or optional hurricane deductible. Still others, like California, don’t even mention the word ‘hurricane’ in their policy.
A hurricane is basically a ton of wind (covered – it’s one of those 16 named perils), rain (not covered, unless wind blew off your roof and it starts raining in your apt), and possibly flooding (not covered).
Bonus: if for some reason, your place becomes uninhabitable and you need to stay in a hotel, your policy will take care of the $$.
Moral of the story? If you live in an area where they get past the “C’s” when naming the next hurricane (see here for more info), you should probably take a look at your policy or contact your insurer and see what your options are.
6. Does renters insurance cover mold?
Mold is covered only when it’s a result of one of those 16 named perils we mentioned above. For example, let’s say that there was a fire at your place and the water used to put out your fire created a serious mold situation in your place – any resulting damages/losses are covered. Another example where your covered is if your AC unit suddenly breaks, flooding your place and creating a moldy mess ruining your stuff. Your renters insurance will also have your back.
However, cases where mold creeps up over time isn’t covered. So that gross stuff growing in your shower or underneath your sink? You should address it asap because it isn’t covered under your policy.
7. Does renters insurance cover fire?
Yep, it sure does!. The only way your insurer won’t cover you is if you started the fire on purpose… but that’s a scenario we’d like to leave to the movies.
8. Does renters insurance cover pet damage?
Damages and losses caused by your animal friends aren’t covered by your standard renters insurance policy. Why’s that? Well, it’s kinda like mold. As soon as you’re aware that something may be an issue, it’s your job to make sure it’s fixed. So having an animal (no matter how perfect they are) is a bit of a risk. Accidents happen. Literally. As do a bunch of other unexpected things when you share your roof with your furry (or scaled) BFF.
The only aspect of having a pet that is covered by your insurance agency is when they bite others or ruin other people’s stuff. In that case, your medical payments/personal liability will kick in. Just keep in mind that most insurance companies don’t cover vicious breeds, or dogs with a history of biting.
9. Does renters insurance cover storage units?
Yes, your stuff is covered, but up to a certain amount. Your insurer will most likely cover around 10% of Coverage C (aka your Personal Liability limit), or $1,000 – whichever is greater. Just keep in mind that that like most things on this list, there are a few exceptions which are 1) stuff that was moved from your place because it was being repaired, renovated, or rebuilt and 2) things that are usually located in a place other than you own insured pad.
Oh, and BTW – if your personal property is stored in the basement closet or cage of your condo or apartment, it’s covered because it’s still at your home address.
10. Does renters insurance cover dog bites?
This one’s an oldie but a goodie, and the answer is, in most cases, “yes.” As we mentioned earlier, dog bites are covered under the personal liability/medical expenses clause of your policy. The only instance where this wouldn’t kick in would be if your dog has a history of biting, or is categorized as high-risk/”vicious.”
Knowing what is covered by renters insurance is just as important as knowing what isn’t. We hope we helped clear things up, and if you have any additional questions about renters insurance coverage, feel free to check out our FAQs or holler at us on Facebook ✌