5 Reasons Every Renter Should Have Renters Insurance

Today’s post comes from our friends at Esurance, the insurance company that provides easy-to-use online tools and technology to help consumers get smarter about insurance.

Burglary, fire, identity theft: those are things that happen to other people, right? Sure, until they happen to you. The first time my car was broken into (yes, the first — I live in San Francisco), I just assumed my car insurance would cover all the stuff that was taken from my trunk. But, I was kindly informed that I’d need to contact my renters insurance company to cover those expenses.

Er … what renters insurance company?

So, lesson learned (the hard way). Within a week, I was the proud owner of a shiny, new renters policy. Now that I work for an insurance company, I know a whole lot about renters insurance. And it covers more than you might think. Here are 5 reasons to bump it up a couple of notches on your to-do list.

1. It covers items both in and out of your home

In some ways, renters is the hidden gem of insurance. Sure, it covers your personal property from theft, fire, and severe weather (just remember your landlord’s insurance policy will pay for damages to the building, not your personal items). But did you know it also helps cover your stuff outside your home? That includes items stolen out of your car, a bike snatched outside your local coffee shop, or a laptop taken from your Paris hotel room.
And then there are the little things you might not think of. Many renters policies will pay to replace your locks after your home’s broken into, for example, or replace your food if it spoils during a power outage.

2. It can pay for additional living expenses

If your place is damaged by fire or water, you’re going to need somewhere to crash while it’s being repaired. And if you have to move temporarily, renters insurance can help pay for everything from the hotel room to your meals.
When you’re shopping for coverage, make sure to look into how much and for how long the company is willing to pay to put you up. It could mean the difference between 2 weeks in a Super 8 or 6 months in a Hilton.

3. It can help you recover from identity theft

In our ever-connected world, we’re increasingly susceptible to identity theft. But some renters policies can help you recover faster by working with credit card companies, credit bureaus, and other institutions to rectify any damage done to your good name. Even associated legal fees may be covered. And that can be a major relief during a stressful time.

4. It can pay liability and medical costs

Litigation can sure ruin a friendship. But if a guest is injured in your home, renters insurance can help cover the medical bills. Or, say your friend brings over his new girlfriend and your dog chews up her Manolo Blahniks (bad dog!) — renters can help pay for a replacement pair.

5. It’s affordable

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the average residential burglary resulted in around $2,700 worth of property loss. Meanwhile, renters coverage costs an average of $10 a month.* I’m no math expert, but that seems like a pretty sweet deal.
Many renters policies also repair or replace your belongings at replacement cost. So, even if your stolen or damaged items have depreciated in value since you bought them, you’ll get the full amount needed to replace them with brand-new, comparable items.

Renters insurance recap

Hopefully you’re now a little closer to researching and buying a renters policy. But, in case you need to sell the idea to a roommate or significant other, here’s a quick rundown of what renters insurance may cover:

  1. Loss-of-use coverage, which helps pay additional living expenses if you need to live somewhere else due to a covered incident
  2. Personal liability coverage (if a guest is injured in your rental or you accidentaly cause property damage)
  3. Coverage for certain accident-related medical expenses
  4. Identity theft coverage (state availability varies)
  5. Replacement cost coverage (for your personal things)
  6. Off-premises coverage for your property

Remember, not all renters policies are created equal, so do your homework and compare prices as well as coverages. If anything goes awry, you’ll be glad you did.

*Average monthly cost and annual premium figures based on Esurance renters coverage purchased between 8/25/2012 and 7/31/2013. Your premium will depend on the details of your selected coverage and your specific property. Coverages subject to availability and qualifications. Terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions will apply.*

Jessica Guerin is a copywriter for Esurance (so she knows a thing or two about insurance). One of her many roles is writing for the Esurance blog, which covers everything from driving technology to tips for renters and homeowners.

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.