What Is Renters Insurance, and What Does It Cover?

From theft to personal liability, your policy is versatile.

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It’s the question on everyone’s lips: What is renters insurance? And what exactly does renters insurance cover?

You’ve probably been dancing at a wild house party when, suddenly, the guy next to you starts raving excitedly about the intricacies of his renters insurance policy. Everyone goes quiet, the music shuts down, and the entire room listens as he geeks out over his coverage amounts and personal liability protections…

Okay, we know: This is not a scenario that has ever occurred in the history of the universe. Renters insurance isn’t all that sexy, at face value. And most people aren’t insurance nerds like us.

It doesn’t help that the name itself can be confusing; it’s often not clear that renters insurance also covers your valuables—computer, iPhone, bicycle, diamond ring, etc—even when you’re not at home.  The entire renters insurance thing could use a rethink and a reboot, which is kinda our whole deal here at Lemonade.  

A lot of people think—wrongly, we’d suggest!—that renters insurance just isn’t worth it. Maybe they cross their fingers and hope that bad things won’t happen to their apartment, or their stuff, in which case they’ll be glad they didn’t “waste” a few bucks a month on coverage. 

And sure, that’s true if you never have your phone stolen, or if a burst pipe in your apartment doesn’t destroy your expensive couch. But if bad luck does strike, you’ll probably end up pretty damn happy that you decided to make the small splurge on a renters insurance policy. 

What we’ll do in this article is unpack the basics of renters insurance, all without any technical jargon.  We like to keep it simple. While you might not end up gossiping about renters insurance at the next party—at least you’ll have a handle on how these policies can help make your life a little easier. (And hey, not to change the subject, but… did we mention that Lemonade now offers life insurance?)

Here’s a quick preview of what we’ll be discussing:

what is renters insurance?

What is renters insurance?

In plain English, renters insurance offers you financial help if bad things happen to you or your stuff. In exchange, you pay monthly payments (known as your ‘premium’) to your insurance company.

Consider renters insurance to be a safety net. It’ll kick in and help if there’s loss and damage from designated “perils,” which include theft, fire, vandalism, certain types of water damage, and many other inconvenient things.

We say that an insurance policy “covers” you from unfortunate incidents, like fires, or bites from an out-of-control dog. But that’s just an expression, since the insurance company itself isn’t preventing those things from happening… instead, it’s providing financial compensation for related damages if they do happen.

If your entire apartment is damaged to the point where you’re unable to stay there, renters insurance can compensate you for the nights you might need to spend at that Holiday Inn.

And if you’re injured at someone else’s place, or if someone else is injured at your place, it’ll even help with possible medical or legal fees.

What does renters insurance cover?

A typical renters insurance policy has three main coverage categories:

what does renters insurance cover

What does all that mean, exactly?

Personal property

This type of coverage helps you recover the cost of lost or damaged valuables if various unpleasant or unexpected things happen.

Standard policies cover named perils: very not-fun occurrences like kitchen fires, lightning, windstorm, hail, smoke, vandalism, theft (at home or elsewhere), freezing, damage from aircraft or vehicles, and riots, to name a few.

Just keep in mind that if the stuff in your apartment belongs to your landlord, it isn’t covered under your policy. That would mean any furnishings that came with the place, as well as certain appliances.

And your renters insurance policy doesn’t extend to stuff that any roommates own; they’d have to get their own individual policies.

Temporary living expenses

If covered perils cause your place to become unlivable, you might need to hole up in a hotel for a while. The good news is that most renters insurance policies will cover these and other expenses, possibly including cash you need to spend on food and laundry. 

Personal liability & medical bills

Renters insurance coverage extends to instances in which someone gets hurt at your place in an accident—whether that means hospital bills or legal fees from a lawsuit. It also extends to certain damages that you may cause when you’re away from your home.

Limits & deductibles

When you file a claim on your Lemonade Renters policy, it’s important to keep coverage limits and your deductible in mind.

Your deductible is the set amount you’ve agreed to contribute to every claim before you’ll receive compensation for your loss. When you sign up with Lemonade you’ll be able to pick a deductible between $250 and $2,500. (A lower deductible will equal a higher monthly premium, since you’ll owe less out-of-pocket in the event of a covered claim.)

Each category of coverage also has its own limits, and occasionally sublimits. For instance, you can choose $10,000 of personal property coverage. If your apartment is robbed and all your belongings are taken, your insurer would compensate you for the loss up to that $10,000 limit (after taking your deductible into account).

Did you say sublimits?

Without getting too into the weeds here: Certain types of property have additional sublimits, and this may vary depending on what state you live in.

Portable electronics theft, in all states other than California and New York, is limited to a certain amount. In general, the theft of cash (or even crypto!) is only covered up to a maximum of $200. And jewelry theft is only covered up to a maximum of $1,500, unless you “schedule” specific items of jewelry, which we’ll explain below.

Let’s get a little Extra

So now you’ve got a pretty good idea of what renters insurance covers. But what if you want to amp up the coverage you have for certain specific items that are especially valuable? In insurance terms, that’s known as adding scheduled personal property coverage. 

Because “scheduled personal property coverage” is a real mouthful, at Lemonade we simply refer to it as ‘Extra Coverage.’

For an extra charge, can apply to add Extra Coverage to jewelry as well as valuables like bikes, cameras, fine art, and musical instruments.

While these items already enjoy a certain amount of coverage on your base policy, Extra Coverage comes with extra perks:

  • Deductible-free claims
  • Coverage for accidental damage
  • Coverage for “mysterious loss” (as in “I haven’t seen my engagement ring in three weeks and I’m starting to think it’s…gone”)

While these things may need appraisals or other proof of purchase—more on all that here—the process is extremely easy using the Lemonade app.

What about appliances that malfunction?

Your basic renters policy protects your electronics and appliances against certain “perils,” but not against every type of damage.

For instance, if your washing machine has an electrical failure your base policy wouldn’t help. But if you want to add on those extra protections, you can purchase Equipment Breakdown Coverage (EBC).

Also known as Appliance Coverage, this is an endorsement to complement and enhance your renters insurance and provide coverage for many additional types of damage. Keep in mind, though, that this coverage only applies to appliances that you own (not your landlord).

Loss Of Use Coverage - Lemonade Blog

What isn’t covered by renters insurance?

Renters insurance is pretty awesome, but it’s not a cloak of invincibility. It won’t protect you against every crappy thing that can happen on a daily basis, so it’s good to know what’s not covered by your policy.

Natural disasters like floods or earthquakes

Is your apartment in a place where flooding, sinkholes, or earthquakes strike on the regular? Basic renters insurance generally won’t cover damage from such natural disasters.

But there’s no need to move out of San Francisco, or South Beach, or whatever beautiful-but-disaster-prone area you call home. You can purchase a separate flood insurance policy through other insurers; meanwhile, Lemonade offers standalone earthquake coverage in certain states.  

Note that certain natural disasters (like volcanic eruption, wildfire, or tornados) will indeed be covered by a renters insurance policy. But damages and related expenses from certain occurrences—like widespread power outages—won’t be.

Car-related theft

You park your Volvo at the corner and leave your phone on the passenger seat. If someone pulls an old-fashioned smash-and-grab to get your iPhone X, renters insurance has your back for the device.

But renters insurance won’t cover damage to the car itself, like your broken window (for that, your car insurance coverages could come in handy). The same applies if some drunken prankster decides to rip off your rearview mirror for fun. And actual theft of your entire car, or certain parts, would not be covered as “personal property” under your renters policy.

In fact, renters insurance doesn’t cover ‘motor vehicles’ in general—but it will cover certain classes of e-bikes. Motorized devices used for health purposes, like motorized wheelchairs or scooters, may also be covered.

Undocumented items

While we trust you and know you’d never lie or falsify anything, ever, an insurance company does require some amount of proof that an item you’re filing a claim for actually existed, and was in your possession.

Keep receipts, if you think of it, or try to take pics of your valuables on your phone (save them in the cloud, too, in case it’s your phone itself that’s stolen). 

Your roommate’s belongings

You’re super responsible, and you have a Lemonade renters insurance policy. But you live with three other guys who don’t.

If their stuff gets damaged or stolen, your policy can’t come to their rescue (unless any of them are a blood relative, your spouse, or an adopted child). If your roommates aren’t up to speed on why renters insurance is an awesome idea, well… you can school them yourself after finishing this article, right?

Damage from pests

Sorry, renters insurance won’t kick in for damage related to mice, rats, or insects.

Extermination costs also won’t be covered—that’s generally your landlords responsibility. And what about that scourge of all scourges, the one whose name we’re almost reluctant to utter… bed bugs?

Treatment can be really expensive and time-consuming, and renters insurance won’t cover the costs for that. But here’s a bunch of info on  how to keep bed bugs out of your home and out of your life.

Most property damage to your physical home

Renters insurance doesn’t cover the physical building that holds your stuff. That’s what your landlord’s insurance is for.

So, if your building has roof leaks, it’s your right as a renter to demand your landlord provides a dry roof over your head. Before you sign a lease, it’s worth asking about your landlord’s insurance, as well as what their protocol is if something happens to the apartment’s actual structure. 

However, in certain circumstances your renters insurance would indeed kick in. For instance, if your actions lead to damage to your rented apartment due to fire, smoke, an explosion, or certain water damage.

Some common misconceptions about renters insurance

Let’s take a spin through what a lot of people get wrong about renters insurance.

  • You might think that, since your landlord has insurance, that covers damage to your stuff. Not so. Your landlord’s policy covers the physical structure of their building and any furnishings/appliances the landlord may own inside, like the fridge or stove… but it doesn’t cover you or any damages that occur to your MacBook, digital camera, or single-speed bike.
  • Maybe it’s your first time living on your own, and your parents have homeowners insurance. Your folks’ policy will not cover you and your stuff in your new apartment.
  • Perhaps you’re one of those people who only head to their apartment to crash after a long day of work (or a long night of fun). Why get renters insurance if you’re basically never at home? The reason is that your policy has your back whether you’re at your apartment or at a bar, coffee shop, airport, party boat, skate park, mall, subway car, silent rave, therapist’s office… you get the idea. 

Can you update coverage once you’ve already purchased a policy?

Of course! Because we like to make life simple, Lemonade’s Live Policy lets you update your own coverage, anytime, on the Lemonade app. No agents, no waiting on hold, no stress.

Getting your renters insurance quote

The price you’re offered for renters insurance—known as your quote—depends on a constellation of factors. Your premiums could be affected by where you live, the condition of the building, your own personal history, and the coverage amounts you set for yourself. 

  • For instance, renters insurance rates for a spotless new loft in Brooklyn will be different than they are for a spacious studio apartment in Dayton, Ohio, in a building that hails from 1932. 
  • If you want more coverage, it’s going to…cost more. (Shocking!) Let’s say you want to protect $10,000 worth of your valuables. Increasing your personal property limit to $40,000 would bump your premium up.
  • Adding Extra Coverage for certain valuables will also incur extra costs, but you’ll probably be grateful that you chose to do so if your engagement ring or vintage guitar goes missing or gets damaged. 

The easiest way to find out what your own rate would be is to apply for a quote.

We honestly think the Lemonade sign-up experience is a delight. Our charming AI bot Maya will walk you through all the specifics and get you a quote in minutes.

You might even enjoy the process… and who knows, maybe you’ll actually find yourself talking about how awesome renters insurance is at your next party.  

Is Lemonade renters insurance available where I live?

States where Lemonade Renters Insurance is offered in the United States

These are the States we currently offer renters insurance in:
Arizona, Arkansas, CaliforniaColorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, MassachusettsMichigan, Missouri, NevadaNew Jersey, New MexicoNew YorkOhio, Oklahoma, OregonPennsylvania, Rhode Island, TennesseeTexas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. (not a state… yet), and Wisconsin.

Still not sure what amount of coverage is right for you? Check out our easy guide to how much renters insurance I need?

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Please Note: These definitions don’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade. They are intended for educational purposes only - they’re not meant to be used in lieu of professional legal or financial advice. We’ll do our best to keep them updated, but they may not always reflect current industry developments. Feel free to use the terms with attribution (friends don’t let friends plagiarize!)
Property and casualty insurance provided by Lemonade Insurance Company, 5 Crosby St., 3rd floor, New York, NY 10013. Life Insurance provided by North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®, Administrative Office, One Sammons Plaza, Sioux Falls, SD 57193.
Lemonade Insurance Agency, LLC (LIA) is acting as the agent of Lemonade Insurance Company and Lemonade Life Insurance Agency, LLC (LLIA) is acting as the agent of North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®. Both LIA and LLIA receive compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies each sells. Further information is available upon request.
LLIA is a sub-producer of Bestow Agency, LLC. Life insurance quotes are provided by Bestow Agency, LLC dba Bestow Insurance Services in CA, who is the licensed agent. Term Life insurance policies are issued on North American Company for Life and Health Insurance® policy form LS181 and LS182, or state version including all applicable endorsements and riders. Products or issue ages may not be available in all jurisdictions. Limitations or restrictions may apply. Not available in New York. Our application asks about your lifestyle and health; your answers allow us to save you time and avoid offline medical exams.