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One of the best things about renter’s insurance is how affordable it is. Annual rates rarely top $300, and in many places it’s possible to get a policy for considerably less. But what determines your rate—and how can you lower it? 
Four major factors come into play when insurance companies set your renter’s insurance premium: 
  1. Location: Your state and ZIP code play a role in setting your rate. You’ll pay more for renter’s insurance in
    North Dakota
    —and more in
    than in
    , New York. 
  2. Coverage: Your policy limits make a difference, as does whether you’re covering the actual cash value (ACV) of your property versus replacement cost (RCV)
  3. Deductible: One of the easiest ways to lower your rate is to choose a higher deductible
  4. Additional coverage: If you buy additional coverage, such as flood insurance or a floater for high-value items, your premium will be higher than if you stick to basic coverage. 
In general, you can expect to pay an average of $168 per year, or $14 a month, for renter’s insurance—but what does that premium get you? Let’s take a closer look. 

What’s covered in the cost of renter’s insurance?

Your state’s insurance rating bureau collects statistics that help insurance companies set your rate. But no matter where you live, you can expect your coverage to include certain basic protections.
Coverage type
What it protects
How to lower the cost
Personal property
Your furniture, clothing, electronics, and other personal possessions (except valuables)
Opt for actual cash value (ACV) coverage instead of replacement cost
Liability protection
Your assets when you’re responsible for an injury or property damage to others
Choose a higher deductible for a rate decrease
Additional living expenses (loss of use)
Your wallet when you’re forced to stay in a hotel, rent another property, or rely on takeout while repairs are being done
Avoid unnecessary claims if you’re able to afford a temporary loss of use
But there are certain things that renter’s insurance won’t cover, from damage to your home’s actual structure to losses caused by your own negligence. Let’s take a closer look at certain common exclusions from HO-4 policies. 

Does renter’s insurance cover theft? 

Yes—theft is one of the most common coverages of a renter’s insurance policy. However, keep in mind that your high-value items are probably not covered by a standard renter’s policy. So, if an intruder steals your grandmother’s priceless emerald earrings, you’d likely need a separate floater to cover that loss. 

Does renter’s insurance cover flooding?

No. Renter’s insurance covers water damage caused by burst pipes and certain other plumbing failures; if your neighbor’s tub overflows and ruins your couch, you’re probably covered. But floods from outside the home are a separate issue. If you live in a flood-prone area, it’s worth looking into coverage from the
National Flood Insurance Program
adminstered by FEMA.  

Does renter’s insurance cover earthquakes?

Bad news for renters in the Bay Area—no, renter’s insurance does not cover earthquake damage. As with floods, you’ll need
a separate policy
for earthquake coverage. 

Does renter’s insurance cover losses outside the home? 

Actually, yes! Most renter’s insurance policies include what’s called “off-premises coverage,” which covers the loss of property outside the home. For example, if your laptop is stolen from your hotel room, your renter’s insurance will cover the loss—but there’s often a lower coverage limit. 

Does renter’s insurance cover dog bites?

Liability coverage is a key component of renter’s insurance—but it won’t cover every type of injury. If your dog bites your neighbor and they sue you, your renter’s insurance may not cover the fees if your dog is of a certain breed deemed “aggressive” (think Rotweillers and pit bulls), or if there’s a documented history of aggression. 

Does renter’s insurance cover mold?

Maybe. If the mold was caused by a specific covered form of water damage (e.g. a burst pipe), you may be able to get coverage. But if it’s just mold that built up over time, you’re not likely to have a successful claim. 

Does renter’s insurance cover valuables?

No. While renter’s insurance will cover certain big-ticket items, like a couch or a TV, it usually won’t cover things like jewelry, collectibles, fine art, furs, or expensive electronics. Check your policy for details and consider purchasing a floater to cover anything of high value. 

Does renter’s insurance cover hurricane damage? 

It’s complicated. Wind, hail, and lightning associated with a hurricane are all covered perils, and you should be able to file a claim for any damage caused by those forces. But flooding isn’t covered—so be careful about exactly what you try to claim. 

How to file a renter’s insurance claim

Filing a renter’s insurance claim can be a bit of a hassle, but the process is actually fairly straightforward. If you’ve experienced a covered loss, here’s how to get the support you need from your insurance policy: 
  • Inform your landlord of the damage. This is typically required by your lease, and it’s always a good idea to keep your landlord up to speed if you’re going to file a claim. 
  • In cases of theft or other criminal activity, file a police report. This isn’t just for legal reasons—it also helps the insurance company to collect all the information they need to process your claim. 
  • Document and catalogue your losses. Create a list of all the items that need to be replaced, along with price information, receipts (if you have them), and photographs of the damage. 
  • Contact your insurance company. Call your agent and tell them you’re submitting a claim. They’ll work with you to get all the documents processed quickly. 
Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay your deductible before any coverage kicks in. If the total amount of the losses is less than your deductible, it’s probably not worth the trouble of filing a claim—especially since your rate’s likely to go up. But in cases of a major loss, the time it takes to file a claim is more than worth the financial relief you’ll get when the time comes to replace your belongings.
Want to make sure you’re set with the right coverage in the event of a serious loss? Take 45 seconds to download the
app and shop for renter’s insurance rates. As a licensed broker and the #1 rated insurance app, Jerry can find you competitive quotes and help you sign up without any of the long waits and unnecessary paperwork of a traditional insurance shopping process. 

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