How Much Renters Insurance Do You Need?


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ByMark Fitzpatrick
Edited byCasie McCoskey
ByMark Fitzpatrick
Edited byCasie McCoskey

Updated: May 22, 2024

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When choosing how much renters insurance to get, your coverage limits should be enough to replace your belongings and cover any liabilities. Renters insurance typically covers personal property against perils like theft or fire and provides liability protection in case someone is injured in your rental unit. By determining the right coverage, you’ll ensure you are fully protected financially in case of unexpected events without paying for more insurance than you need.

Key Takeaways

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Your renters insurance needs depend on the value of your belongings, your lifestyle and your location.

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To determine your personal property coverage limits, create a home inventory.

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To determine your liability coverage limits and other coverages, assess your situation based on your rented home’s location and overall risks.

How Much Renters Insurance Do You Need?

To calculate how much renters insurance you need, set enough coverage limits to fully compensate for the loss of your personal belongings and cover any liabilities you may face in case of a covered peril. This way, in the event of incidents like theft or damage, you're financially protected without overpaying premiums.

How much coverage you get directly influences your costs. For instance, the average cost of renters insurance for $20,000 in personal property coverage is $12 per month or $138 per year, while $100,000 in coverage is $31 per month or $374 per year.

While setting low limits may be tempting to get cheap renters insurance, remember there is no one-size-fits-all renters insurance policy; you'll need to determine your coverage limits and compare renters insurance quotes to find the best policy for your needs.

How to Determine Your Personal Property Coverage Limits

Creating a home inventory is the best way to determine your personal property coverage limits. Personal property coverage pays to replace your belongings, such as your furniture, electronics, clothing and more. By having adequate limits, you can ensure you don't pay out of pocket for valuables in case of a covered peril.

Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a detailed inventory:

1
Divide and Document

Break your home into sections (e.g., living room, kitchen) and list items in each area. Include descriptions, purchase dates and prices.

2
Photograph Everything

Take clear photos of all items. This visual record is vital for insurance claims.

3
Record Serial Numbers and Receipts

For electronics and appliances, jot down serial numbers. Attach receipts if available, as they provide proof of purchase and value.

4
Use Digital Tools

Consider utilizing a home inventory app or spreadsheet to securely organize and store your data. These tools can simplify tracking and updating your inventory.

5
Store and Update Regularly

Keep your inventory in a safe, easily accessible place, like cloud storage. Update it annually or whenever you make significant purchases.

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For valuable possessions like jewelry, fine art or electronics, consider adding specific riders or endorsements to your policy to ensure adequate coverage at their full value.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV) vs. Actual Cash Value (ACV)

In renters insurance, two replacement types determine how much you receive for reimbursement when you file a claim: replacement cost value (RCV) and actual cash value (ACV). RCV refers to a policy that compensates you for the cost of replacing your damaged or lost items with new equivalents. ACV coverage reimburses you for the current value of your belongings, taking into account depreciation.

This difference in valuation can significantly influence your decision-making process when purchasing renters insurance, as it affects both the level of coverage provided and the cost of premiums.

Coverage Type
Replacement Cost Value (RCV)
Actual Cash Value (ACV)

Description

Covers the cost of replacing your items with new ones.

Reimburses the current value, accounting for depreciation.

Benefits

Allows for complete renewal without bearing the full cost.

Generally offers lower premiums.

Premiums

Tends to be higher due to comprehensive coverage.

Lower, reflecting the reduced payout.

Compensation

More comprehensive; ignores depreciation.

May not fully cover replacement due to wear and tear.

How to Determine Your Liability Coverage Limits

Evaluating your liability coverage limits involves assessing personal risk factors such as owning pets or frequently hosting visitors. Liability coverage safeguards you against injury claims and property damage to others. For instance, if your dog bites a visitor, your liability coverage would kick in to pay for incurring medical and legal expenses.

That said, when it comes to determining your liability coverage limits, consider these factors:

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    Pets

    If you have pets, especially breeds considered high-risk, you may need higher liability limits. Keep in mind that some providers may not even insure you if you have a high-risk dog, so you may need to do research for dog-friendly home insurance providers.

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    Hosting Guests and Visitors

    Regularly hosting guests increases the potential for accidents or injuries on your property.

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    Personal Financial Situation

    Liability coverage should align with your assets and income. Suppose someone sues you for damages or injuries that occur at your apartment. You want enough coverage to protect your financial assets and future earnings from being seized or garnished to pay for any judgment or settlement.

How to Determine Your Loss of Use Coverage Limits

Loss of use coverage, otherwise known as additional living expenses (ALE), is typically based on a set percentage of your dwelling coverage, but you can increase your limits based on your lifestyle. This coverage provides financial support when you can't live in your rented space due to covered perils. For instance, if a fire damages the home you're renting and becomes uninhabitable, loss of use pays to put you up temporarily in a hotel or an Airbnb.

To determine the right amount of coverage:

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    Assess Local Living Costs

    Consider the cost of temporary accommodation and other expenses if you can't live in your rental property.

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    Evaluate Your Lifestyle

    Factor in your lifestyle and potential relocation costs; some may need more extensive coverage.

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    Use the Standard Calculation

    Loss of use limits is often a percentage of your personal property coverage, typically around 20–30%. However, this may not be sufficient in some cases, depending on your needs.

How to Determine if You Need Supplemental Coverage

In addition to standard renters insurance coverages, various supplemental options can provide enhanced protection tailored to your specific circumstances. Here's a closer look at some of these additional coverages and when they might be necessary:

  • Earthquake Insurance: If you live in an earthquake-prone region, consider earthquake insurance to protect your belongings and property from seismic events.
  • Flood Insurance: Flood insurance is helpful for renters in flood-prone areas, as standard policies typically exclude flood damage coverage.
  • Scheduled Contents Replacement Coverage: Valuable items like jewelry or collectibles may require this coverage to ensure their full replacement cost.
  • Business Insurance: If you work from home, evaluate your work setup and consider business insurance to cover equipment, liability and potential business interruptions.

These coverages offer additional layers of security, allowing you to customize your renters insurance to address specific risks that a standard policy may not cover.

How Much Does Renters Insurance Typically Cost?

The average cost of renters insurance is around $168 per year. However, the actual cost can vary based on several factors, including location, coverage limits and personal circumstances. Use the table below to compare prices based on coverage limits:

$20K Personal Property / $100K LiabilityAnnual Premium$138
$50K Personal Property / $100K LiabilityAnnual Premium$229
$100K Personal Property / $100K LiabilityAnnual Premium$374
$250K Personal Property / $300K LiabilityAnnual Premium$757

The cost of renters insurance is also influenced by where you live, with some states having higher premiums due to increased risks or higher living expenses. It can also differ based on the insurance company you choose. Explore the table below to see how rates can change by company and personal property coverage.

Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Coverage:
Coverage:$20K Personal Property / $100K Liability
State FarmAnnual Premium$99
AllstateAnnual Premium$111
NationwideAnnual Premium$139
FarmersAnnual Premium$156
TravelersAnnual Premium$239

How Are Renters Insurance Costs Determined?

Several factors influence renters insurance costs. These include your location, coverage limits, deductible amount and any optional endorsements you choose. Unique characteristics such as your claims history, credit score and certain safety features in your rental property also impact your premiums.

FAQ About Renters Insurance Coverage Amounts

Understanding how to determine the right amount of renters insurance for your unique situation helps prepare you for the unexpected. We addressed some commonly asked questions to help you navigate this process effectively.

What factors determine how much renters insurance I need?
How do I calculate the value of my personal belongings for insurance purposes?
Is there a standard amount of renters insurance everyone should have?
How often should I review and adjust my renters insurance coverage?

About Mark Fitzpatrick


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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.