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Finding the right renters insurance isn’t just about paying the lowest possible price, but about making sure you’re financially protected in case of disaster or lawsuits. Here’s what you should know about renters insurance quotes before you start shopping.
What is a renters insurance quote?
A renters insurance quote is a personalized estimate of how much your policy will cost. It’s based on factors such as where you live, the value of your personal belongings and whether your home has fire alarms or other security features.
Because each insurance company uses a unique formula to calculate rates, it’s worth shopping around a bit to compare renters insurance quotes and find the lowest price.
How to get renters insurance quotes
You have several options once you’re ready to buy renters insurance. No matter which one you choose, aim to get at least three quotes — all with the same coverage limits and deductibles — so you can evaluate which company is offering the best price for your needs.
Shop for renters insurance quotes online or by phone
Numerous insurers offer online renters insurance quotes. Some allow you to purchase a policy online, while others route you to an agent to finalize the details on the phone before you buy.
Because renters insurance is a relatively simple product compared to other types of insurance, it’s easier to shop for online. However, most companies also let you go through the entire process by phone if you prefer.
Work with a captive insurance agent
Another option when looking for a renters insurance estimate is a captive insurance agent who works for a single company such as Allstate, State Farm or Farmers Insurance. Because they work exclusively with one insurer, these agents tend to have in-depth knowledge of that company’s policies.
Although some captive agents are paid a salary, the bulk of their income usually comes from commissions and sales bonuses, which can be an incentive to sell pricier policies. Unlike independent agents, captive agents can’t offer you quotes from multiple insurance companies.
Contact an independent insurance agent or broker
If you want to talk through your renters insurance options without committing to a single company, consider working with an independent agent or broker.
Both independent agents and brokers work with multiple insurers, so they can cast a wider net when offering quotes. One key difference between them is that agents work on behalf of insurance companies, while brokers work on your behalf. Many agents can “bind” insurance policies, which means they can put coverage in place even before the formal policy is issued; brokers, meanwhile, apply for policies on your behalf.
Both agents and brokers are paid on commission, though brokers may charge additional fees. Before working with an agent or broker, ask what commissions and fees will apply for their services.
What information do you need to get a renters insurance quote?
Before you start shopping for renters insurance quotes online or by phone, you’ll want to have the following information handy:
Basic personal details (name, date of birth, marital status and Social Security number).
The rental address and the date you’ll need coverage to begin.
The approximate value of your personal belongings (use our calculator below to help you estimate this).
The number of people who live with you.
Details about your rental, including how close it is to a fire station and whether it has safety features such as deadbolt locks or burglar alarms.
Information about previous insurance coverage and claims (be honest — the insurer can find out).
What goes into a renters insurance quote?
Many factors can influence your renters insurance quote, though every insurance company weighs them differently. The most common factors include:
Where you live. You’ll likely have a higher premium if you live in a part of the country prone to hurricanes, wildfires or other natural disasters. Your neighborhood matters, too: Tenants in neighborhoods with higher crime rates usually pay more for renters insurance.
Local fire protection. If your home is located near a fire station or hydrant, you’ll likely pay less for renters insurance than someone in a remote location.
Protective features. Does your apartment building have a security guard? Does your home have burglar alarms, sprinklers, smoke detectors or other protective features? These could all earn you discounts on your premium because they reduce the likelihood of fire or theft.
Your credit. Studies have shown a correlation between poor credit and a higher rate of claims, so in most states, people with low credit scores pay more for renters insurance.
Using credit to set homeowners, renters, condo and mobile home insurance prices is not allowed in California, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Your coverage limits. One of the key factors in any renters insurance quote is how much stuff you would have to replace in a potential disaster. A one-bedroom apartment furnished with a few self-assembled pieces will be cheaper to insure than a large rental home filled with antiques and high-tech electronics. A higher liability limit could also contribute to a more expensive premium.
Your pet. Your dog adds a lot to your household — and may add a little to your renters insurance premium as well. The liability portion of your renters policy usually covers you if your dog bites someone outside your household, but large dogs or certain breeds may incur a slightly higher premium — or not be covered at all.
Your home-based business. If you work from home, you might need to add a rider to your renters policy or purchase a separate commercial policy to cover your office equipment and potential liability for a work-related injury that occurs in your home.
Your previous claims. If you’ve made any claims in the past — even if they were with a different company — your insurer may consider you higher-risk and charge you more.
Choosing the right amount of coverage
A standard renters insurance policy generally includes three main types of coverage. Here’s how much to buy.
Personal property coverage
This coverage will pay to replace your belongings if they’re stolen or destroyed due to fire, hurricane or other disasters. To choose the right amount of coverage, you’ll need to know the approximate value of your belongings. The calculator below can give you a quick estimate. It’s wise to round up to the next available coverage level to make sure you’ll be fully reimbursed.
Additional living expenses
Also known as “loss of use,” this coverage will pay out if you need to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired after a covered claim. This includes the cost of hotels, restaurant meals and other expenses beyond your normal cost of living at home. Loss of use coverage can be figured as a percentage of your personal property limit or a flat amount (normally a few thousand dollars).
Renters liability insurance pays for things like medical bills for a visitor who trips and falls on your rug, legal expenses if someone sues you and repair costs if your child breaks a neighbor’s window.
Before choosing your liability limit — options typically range from $100,000 to $500,000 — add up the total value of your assets, including vehicles and savings, and make sure you purchase enough liability to cover them so you don't run the risk of losing them should you face a lawsuit.
How to get the cheapest renters insurance quote possible
The average renters insurance cost is $168 a year, or about $14 a month, according to NerdWallet's rate analysis, but you may be able to get a cheaper rate if you shop around. Even if you find a company you like, it’s worth comparing rates once a year and any time you move to make sure you aren’t missing out on a better deal.
» MORE: The best cheap renters insurance
Here are a few more ways to lower your renters insurance premium:
Raise your deductible. If you’re willing to pay a bit more out of pocket when you file a claim, your annual premium will go down. (Just make sure you’ll have the deductible amount on hand or accessible.)
Work on your credit. Paying your bills on time and reducing debt can help build your credit — and get a lower renters insurance rate.
Bundle insurance policies. Insure your car and your rental with the same company, and you’ll often get a discount.
Add safety features. Install a burglar alarm or ask your landlord to put a deadbolt on your exterior door. Not only will these features help keep you safe, but they could also save you money on your renters policy.
Drop unnecessary coverage. Periodically review policy documents to make sure your coverage still matches your needs. For example, if you bought extra insurance for a musical instrument you no longer own, you can drop that coverage.