Can A Landlord Require Renters Insurance?

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Updated: May 22, 2024

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Although not required by law, renters insurance often makes its way into rental agreements, as landlords view it as a way to preempt disputes arising from damages to a tenant's property. It also provides an umbrella of protection for tenants, safeguarding valuable possessions and providing liability coverage for unexpected mishaps in the rental unit.

Table of Contents

Why Do Some Landlords Require Renters Insurance?

Some landlords require their tenants to get renters insurance to complement their existing property insurance policies and get comprehensive coverage. After all, renters insurance doesn't only safeguard a tenant's interests but the landlord's too.

  • Protection against property damage: Landlords are typically exempt from responsibility for tenants' personal belongings, but if the property gets damaged due to landlord negligence, renters insurance can make a big difference. Having renters insurance also protects the landlord from invalid claims made by tenants.

  • Damage or injuries from pets: Renters insurance can often mitigate the risks and costs if a pet causes damages or injuries to guests within the rental property, providing an extra layer of coverage and peace of mind for the landlord.

  • Rental dwelling insurance premiums: Landlords can lower the premiums on their dwelling insurance by insisting tenants have renters insurance. It's a strategic move to share responsibility and avoid potential lawsuits.

  • Screening potential tenants: Renters insurance is a useful indicator of a tenant's financial stability. It also serves as a filter to help landlords identify potential problematic tenants.

  • Peace of mind: By insisting on renters insurance, landlords can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing the tenant has a policy that can decrease the chances of unexpected costs and disputes.

Should You Require Renters Insurance for Tenants?

If you're a landlord, requiring renters insurance can protect your property. While the law doesn't require tenants to have coverage, the multitude of benefits of renters insurance for landlords makes it a practice worth considering.

  • Relocation expenses: State laws differ on landlords' obligations after natural disasters. However, in the aftermath of a fire or natural disaster, landlords could face the burden of temporary housing costs for their tenants. Renters insurance can eliminate this concern, as it typically covers the expenses of such temporary relocation.

  • Reduced risk of lawsuits: The possibility of property damage or injuries caused by a tenant's negligence can lead to legal battles. Renters insurance can shield tenants and their personal property, decreasing the likelihood of lawsuits against landlords.

  • Cover for property damage: If a tenant's personal property suffers damage due to a covered accident and not due to landlord negligence, tenants can cover their own losses. 

  • Pet-friendly policy: Landlords who accept pets attract a larger tenant base. However, pets also bring potential risks. Renters insurance can cover pet-related incidents, offering additional protection for landlords. However, note that renters insurance policies may have specific breed restrictions for coverage.

  • Lower insurance premiums: Landlords' insurance premiums can increase following a claim. If a tenant's renters insurance covers part or all of a loss, it potentially reduces the chance of a rise in the landlord's own premiums.

Do You Need To Have Renters Insurance?

While renters insurance is not legally obligatory, it's a smart financial move for any tenant. The accumulated worth of your belongings might be higher than you think, and this insurance serves as a helpful safety net. Imagine a situation where your belongings are stolen or damaged in a fire — would you be able to replace them out of pocket? With renters insurance, you can prevent a bad situation from worsening, secure in knowing you're protected from the unexpected.

  • Comprehensive property coverage: Your personal property, including furniture, electronics and clothes, is covered if damaged, vandalized or stolen in an event covered by your policy. This means that you won't have to pay out-of-pocket to replace them.

  • Accommodation expenses: If your unit is damaged due to a covered event, your renter's insurance policy includes additional living expenses coverage, which can assist with temporary housing costs.

  • Liability coverage: Renters insurance covers property damage and injuries you might inadvertently cause to others. It also includes legal defense costs if you're sued.

  • Medical payments: Renters insurance covers minor injuries to guests, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

  • Affordability: The average cost of renters insurance is relatively low, considering the extensive coverage it provides. The average cost is around $13 a month or $159 per year for $20,000 worth of personal property coverage, $100,000 of liability coverage and a $500 deductible. By shopping around, you can also find cheap renters insurance.**

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

For tenants, renters insurance covers a wide range of situations, covering damage or theft of personal property, liability costs and living expenses if your home is rendered uninhabitable.

It safeguards tenants from unforeseen incidents and ensures they can recover financially from unexpected losses.

Many policies also protect against the forgery of checks or unauthorized credit card use; some even cover food that spoils due to power outages. Certain policies may also pay for debris removal following a covered loss or reimburse for alterations made to the rented property. By truly understanding the depth of protection offered by your renters insurance, you can rest easy knowing you're prepared for the unexpected.

Renters vs. Landlord Insurance

Landlord insurance covers the dwelling or structure of apartments, while renters insurance covers the personal property the tenant keeps in the apartment. Generally, landlord insurance covers events like fire, wind damage or hail but not tenants' personal property such as furniture, electronics or other items. Any accidental damage caused by the tenant to the building would also not typically be covered by the landlord's insurance.

Understanding the differences between landlord insurance and renters insurance is key to ensuring that your property and belongings are adequately covered.

Renters Insurance
Landlord Insurance

Covers personal belongings

Does not cover personal belongings

Covers accidental damage to the building

Does not cover accidental damage caused by the tenant

Does not cover the physical structure

Covers the physical structure

Does not cover maintenance equipment

Covers equipment used to service the rental (e.g. lawnmowers, etc.)

How To Get Renters Insurance

Getting renters insurance is a practical and cost-effective way to protect your belongings. As a renter, making an informed decision about your insurance requires a systematic approach to ensure you get the best policy for your needs.

Educate yourself

Start by familiarizing yourself with the conditions of renters insurance and its benefits to you as a tenant.

Determine your needs

Compare renters insurance quotes from different providers to find the most affordable rates for your circumstances.

Compare policies

When examining various policies, compare the terms, coverage amounts and conditions to ensure you're making a like-for-like comparison and getting the most value.

Apply for the policy

Once you have identified a suitable policy, start the application process. Prepare your provider’s renters insurance requirements, such as your personal details and a comprehensive inventory of your belongings.

Get your policy

After the application is completed and approved, you will receive your policy. Now you can enjoy the assurance that your possessions are financially protected.

Frequently Asked Questions

While renters insurance is not always required, it provides financial protection for personal belongings and liability coverage. Understanding the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can shed light on the actual advantages of such an insurance policy.

Is renters insurance required?
Can you get renters insurance without a lease?
Can your landlord make a claim on your renters insurance?

About Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick has analyzed the property and casualty insurance market for over five years, conducting original research and creating personalized content for every kind of buyer. Currently, he leads P&C insurance content production at MoneyGeek. Fitzpatrick has been quoted in several insurance-related publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Fitzpatrick earned a master’s degree in economics and international relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his knowledge of economics and insurance to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.