This guide was written by

Jennifer DeMeritt

Many renters think that if there’s a disaster in their rental home – a flood, theft or fire – they’re covered by their landlord’s insurance policy. They’re wrong. If you rent your home, the owner insures the building itself, but you’re responsible for insuring your personal belongings. Imagine having to spend tens of thousands of dollars to replace your furniture, clothing, computers and other property after a fire, theft or even a water leak from another apartment.

Fortunately, renters insurance can protect your property for a very affordable price—often around $20/month. It can also provide liability coverage in case a guest accidentally injures themselves in your home and needs medical attention. It can also reimburse you for a laptop computer stolen from your car or pay for a hotel if you can’t live in your home after a disaster your insurance covers. While most policies offer a similar package of options, they all have their quirks. We’ll help you find the renters insurance that’s best for you.

Coverage Basics

There are some terms and conditions that crop up in most renters insurance policies. It’s important to understand them so that you can purchase the coverage you need—and, if you have a claim, avoid unpleasant surprises.

Deductible

You’ll have to pay a deductible before the insurance company reimburses you for any losses. The higher your deductible, the lower the monthly premium.

Replacement cost versus actual cash value

If you bought a couch for $1,000 five years ago, the full replacement cost is the amount it would cost you to buy another new couch of the same type and quality today. The actual cash value is its current resale value, which has depreciated since you bought it and might amount to just a few hundred bucks. Make sure your policy covers the full replacement cost. (Unless stated otherwise, all of quotes below include full replacement cost.)

Water, sewer and flood coverage

Not all types of water damage are covered by renters insurance. Damage caused by a leak from another apartment is usually covered. Damage caused by backup of the sewer or plumbing system might be covered, or you might need to get an addition or “endorsement” to your policy. Coverage for flood damage is rarely included in renters insurance and must be purchased as a separate policy.

A quote is just a quote

In other words, it’s an estimate of your coverage. The actual policy spells out the nitty-gritty details. Before you sign, read the policy carefully and ask an agent to explain anything you don’t understand. Pay special attention to “exclusions” – that is, what the company is not willing to pay for.

Our Top 10 Renters Insurance Providers

All quotes below are based on the same information: an apartment in a middle-income neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, occupied by a 35-year-old woman, with $20,000 of property to be insured. Unless stated otherwise, a basic quote includes a $500 deductible, $1,000 medical payments to others and $100,000 in liability coverage.

Best if you want
an app for that
Allstate

One of the biggest U.S. insurance companies—with more than 16 million households insured and $100 billion in assets—Allstate is known for its handy online features. Need help figuring out the value of your insured property? The “What’s Your Stuff Worth?” function lists typical belongings with an average value for each ($1,000 for a laptop computer, $500 for a suit) and clickable icons to tally up total value. The Digital Locker app lets you create a photo log of your possessions that’s stored on the cloud, so even if a fire destroys your apartment, you’ll have proof of your possessions. (You can also put your documents in the cloud yourself if you go with another company, or even email the docs to yourself.)

  • Speed: 5 to 10 minutes for an online quote

  • Cost: $19/month for a basic policy

  • Additional coverage: Adding identity theft protection increases the rate to $22/month. Maxing out all of the options on the online quote generator raises the rate to $26/month ($500 deductible, $500,000 family liability, $5,000 guest medical protection). You can also get “endorsements” for high-priced items like jewelry, meaning that you’ll pay more to include them, but you’ll need to discuss this with an agent.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; not accredited with the BBB; 1,421 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Two out of five stars in a 2015 renters insurance study by J.D. Power, a global marketing research company.

Best if you like to do things
the old-fashioned way
American Family

American Family, which has $6.9 billion in customer equity, offers competitive rates for renters insurance. The tradeoff is customer service. You can’t get a quote on the website, so you’ll have to kick it old-school and actually talk to an American Family representative to get basic information about premiums and conditions. The upside is good old-fashioned value: American Family is one of the most highly ranked companies in J.D. Power’s 2015 study of renters insurance for overall customer satisfaction.

  • Speed: It took about 30 minutes to get a basic quote over the phone, including 10 minutes on hold, for a call placed during normal business hours. This initial conversation is with a call center rep, who can refer you to an agent for more detailed information.

  • Cost: About $18/month for a basic policy. This includes full replacement value for your belongings.

  • Additional coverage: As an example, $5,000 of extra jewelry coverage adds a little over a dollar to the monthly premium. It takes patience to get more detailed information over the phone about liability limits and other features that other insurers allow you to customize easily on their websites.

  • Reputation: A- rating from the Better Business Bureau; not BBB accredited; 273 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Five out of five stars in a 2015 J.D. Power study of renters insurance.

Best if you have a great
insurance credit score
Erie Insurance

It pays to be selective. Erie Insurance—which only operates in 12 states but is a Fortune 500 company nonetheless—does not accept all applicants for insurance, screening out those who have weaker credit and insurance histories. Because Erie insures a smaller pool of low-risk customers, it’s able to service those customers to a high level of satisfaction. This is why Erie Insurance has won the highest ranking from J.D. Power in the last four years. If you get renters insurance from Erie, you can expect comprehensive coverage from a company that has a reputation for personalized service from local agents and fast, fair settlement of claims.

  • Getting a quote: Instead of providing a quote on its website, Erie will direct you to a local agent who can explain the options over the phone. The agent we spoke to seemed very knowledgeable and wanted to make sure we understood the nitty-gritty details.

  • Cost: A basic policy is about $27/month.

  • Additional coverage: Liability coverage can be increased to $500,000 for just $3/month. Instead of offering individual endorsements for things like jewelry or electronics, Erie offers endorsement bundles. The most comprehensive option, Select, provides perks like 24 months of coverage for loss of use (compared to 12 months for a basic policy), $10,000 for things like jewelry, furs and silverware (compared to $3,000), while adding about $10 to the monthly premium.

  • Notable inclusions: Coverage is included for unusual things like small watercraft, trailers and trading cards.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; not BBB accredited; 64 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Five out of five stars in 2015 J.D. Power study of renters insurance companies.

Best if you like to
keep things simple
Farmers

Farmers insures more than 10 million households across the U.S. The online quote process is fast and easy, though it offers few options for expanded coverage; talk to an agent for more details. Prices are competitive, so if you’re looking for a streamlined policy without a lot of extras, Farmers could be a good choice.

  • Speed: You can get an online quote in five minutes.

  • Cost: $21.26/month for a basic policy.

  • Additional coverage: ID theft protection can be added for about $3/month. If medical payments are maxed out to $5,000 and liability to $1 million, the premium climbs to about $31/month. Coverage options for jewelry, electronics, etc. are not available on the website; talk to an agent to arrange scheduled coverage.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; BBB accredited; 542 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Three out of five stars for overall customer satisfaction in 2015 JD Power study of renters insurance.

Best if you’re not afraid
of commitment
GEICO

GEICO offers big discounts on renters insurance if you’re willing to pay for a whole year up-front. GEICO partners with local insurance companies around the country, essentially acting like an agency. When you get an online quote, GEICO’s data network compares information from these local insurers and gives you the most competitive rate. The drawback is that an online quote from GEICO can’t be customized as much as some other major insurance companies’. But if you call to get more information, an agent will gladly walk you through the details.

  • Getting a quote: 5–10 minutes for an online quote, plus another 10 minutes on the phone with an agent

  • Cost: If you pay for a full year up-front, a basic policy is $275/year (the equivalent of about $23/month). Without that discount, the premium climbs to about $335/year or $27.92/month—almost 20% higher.

  • Additional coverage: Adding identity theft protection bumps up the premium to about $35/year. This is one of the few coverage expansions you can make on GEICO’s website. To get endorsements for jewelry, electronics, etc., you need to work with the local insurer.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; not BBB accredited; 2,323 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Three out of five stars in 2015 J.D. Power study of renters insurance.

Best for a
high-end renter
Liberty
Mutual

Renters insurance isn’t just for people who can’t afford to buy a nice home. Liberty Mutual, the third largest property and casualty insurer in the United States, is known for providing the extremely comprehensive coverage needed by high-end renters, including up to $1 million in liability coverage. Let’s say you’re an actor in LA, renting a swanky midcentury bungalow with a swimming pool (where a guest could accidentally hurt themselves) and a big yard for your Rottweiler (which hopefully won’t bite anyone, but you never know); Liberty Mutual will cover it. Add coverage for a Hollywood jewelry collection, and Liberty’s prices, which run higher than some of its competitors’, and it looks like a wise investment.

  • Speed: 5–10 minutes to get a quote on the website. A local rep will follow up with an email and/or phone call.

  • Cost: $18–25/month for a basic policy, depending on the home’s safety features, heating system, etc.

  • Extras: Additional identity theft protection adds a few dollars a month to the premium. Adding $10,000 of additional coverage for jewelry adds another $9–10 /month. Ditto extra coverage for electronics. Increasing liability to $1 million bumps the price up even more. A comprehensive policy like this can cost upwards of $35/month a mid-price apartment, probably more for that LA bungalow.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; BBB accredited; 1,226 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Two out of five stars in the 2015 J.D. Power study of renters insurance.

Best if you love
discounts
Nationwide

A Fortune 100 company with over $150 billion in assets, Nationwide is one of the giants in the industry. Nationwide makes a selling point of its discounts, which include up to 20 percent off if you get car insurance along with renters insurance, up to 15 percent off if your home has qualifying smoke, fire and burglar alarms, and up to 20 percent off if your policy has no claims for a period of time.

  • Speed: 5 to 10 minutes for an online quote.

  • Cost: $20.09/month for a basic policy with a $1,000 deductible (a $500 deductible is not an option on the website).

  • Expanding coverage: It’s easy to customize a quote on the website, with a range of coverage options for jewelry, watches, furs, cameras, tools, firearms, etc. Additional scheduled coverage can be arranged with an agent. You can also add coverage for earthquake or volcanic eruption damage, which many other insurers don’t offer.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from Better Business Bureau; BBB accredited; 453 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Reputation: five out of five stars in the 2015 J.D. Power study of renters insurance.

Best if you want
the lowest cost
Progressive

We’ve all seen the quirky TV ads with Flo, the headband-wearing, aggressively perky face of Progressive. Of all the renters insurance companies we surveyed for this report, Progressive quoted the lowest rates. It also listed the fewest options on its website, so it’s a smart move to talk to an agent about exactly what’s covered and whether you want to expand the basic policy.. If price is your only criteria, Progressive is a clear winner. It’s up to you to investigate and make sure that you’re getting the coverage you need.

  • Speed: 5 minutes to get an online quote

  • Cost: About $12/month for a basic policy

  • Adjustments to coverage: On the website, you can adjust the deductible, liability and medical coverage. Maxing out the liability to $500,000 and medical to $5,000 increases the premium to about $15.50/month. When you talk to an agent, you can add coverage for water/sewer backup. Jewelry is covered up to $1,000 per item; pieces that are worth more should be appraised and potentially given additional coverage.

  • Notable exceptions: Progressive is one of the only insurance companies that requires your social security number in order to generate an online quote.

  • Reputation: A- rating from the Better Business Bureau; not BBB accredited; 1498 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years. Three out of five stars in J.D. Power 2015 study of renters insurance.

Best if you want a
good balance of
coverage and cost
State Farm

State Farm’s renters insurance isn’t the cheapest or the most expensive, the least or the most comprehensive. Its website offers more customization options than some insurers but fewer than others. In other words, its coverage is balanced, well-rounded and fairly priced. Like pressed khakis and a clean white shirt, it’s the “normcore” of insurance coverage. State Farm insures more cars and homes than any other company in the U.S.—proof that the basics never go out of style.

  • Speed: 5–10 minutes to get a quote online.

  • Cost: $27.50/month for a basic policy with a $1,000 deductible (a $500 deductible is not an option on the website). The price drops to $22/month if you also get car insurance from State Farm.

  • Additional coverage: When getting an online quote, it’s easy to increase coverage for specific things like computers, jewelry, silverware and firearms. Identity theft protection can also be added. With all of these options maxed out, the cost can climb above $40/month.

  • Notable Extras: Waterbed and earthquake coverage, which are not available from most insurers, can be added to a State Farm renters policy.

  • Reputation: A rating from Better Business Bureau; not accredited with the BBB; 1,913 complaints closed with the BBB in the past three years. Five out of five stars for overall customer satisfaction in 2015 JD Power study of renters insurance.

Best for military
and their families
USAA

The old U.S. Army slogan, “Be all you can be,” applies to renters insurance from USAA, which is much more comprehensive than what most other insurance companies offer—and is only available to active military members, veterans and their families. You can’t get a price quote if you’re not a USAA member, but the website states that a renter’s policy can cost as little as $12. USAA boasts high financial strength and a place on the Fortune list of the world’s most admired companies.

  • Cost: The $12/month premium advertised on USAA’s website is for a policy with $100,000 liability coverage and $5,000 medical payments coverage (both standard throughout the industry) but only $2,500 of personal property coverage. The national average is $20,000 of personal property coverage—almost 10 times as much—so it seems likely that most USAA members will pay more than $12/month.

  • What’s covered: USAA offers flood, earthquake, moving and storage, and identity theft coverage as part of a standard renter’s policy.

  • Reputation: A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; not accredited with BBB; 1358 complaints closed with the BBB in last three years.

Methodology

We looked at each company’s experience, online presence, customer service and financial strength to rank them. Unless noted otherwise, we also obtained two quotes from each insurance company: first, a basic quote for a middle-income renter; second, a quote with higher coverage limits and additional endorsements for the same middle-income renter. This allowed us to evaluate the range of options offered by each insurance company and compare them to one another.

Ranking factors
Getting a quote

Before you sign on the dotted line, or even talk to an agent about the details, you need a good estimate of what renters insurance will cover and how much it will cost. This should be a quick and painless process so that you can compare policies from a few different insurers before committing to one.

Transparency

We looked for companies that provide clear, detailed information on their websites, or have knowledgeable agents who can clarify the trickier points of coverage—preferably both.

Customization

Every renter has different needs. To reflect this, we looked for insurance companies that allow consumers to tailor coverage to their budget and other factors.

Financial strength

Many of the insurance companies in this report are Fortune 500 companies with a nationwide presence and billions of dollars in assets. With the exception of Farmers, all received an A rating or higher for financial strength from A.M. Best.

Value

We looked for companies offering a good balance of cost and coverage. Some have higher rates but also offer more comprehensive protection or higher coverage limits.

Reputation

We checked how each company was rated by the Better Business Bureau and by J.D. Power’s most recent study of renters insurance. We also gave some consideration to other online customer reviews, though those should be taken with a grain of salt.

Resources

J.D. Power Study of Renters Insurance Companies

A study that rates the top providers of renters insurance on customer satisfaction and other factors.

A.M. Best Company

A.M. Best, a company that evaluates the financial strength of insurance companies.

American Insurance Association

Trade association for the property and casualty insurance industry. The website provides information on trends in the industry and other resources for members.

Insurance Information Institute

An industry-supported organization that seeks to improve the public understanding of how insurance works by providing information for consumers, researchers and the media.

Property Casualty 360

News, industry research, legal updates and more for insurance buyers and sellers.

Insure.com

Information, decision-making tools and customer reviews about insurance companies.

Better Business Bureau

A nonprofit organization that evaluates businesses and mediates consumer complaints.

Updated: July 28, 2017