How to File a Renters Insurance Claim

File Renters Insurance Claim
Tenants should file a claim if they incur a covered loss.

Renters insurance protects tenants against personal property loss, liability from guest injury, and cost of living expenses when temporarily displaced. When tenants buy renters insurance, it is with the hope they never have to use it. However, it is hard to control what can happen. So if a tenant incurs a covered loss, liability, or living expense, they will want to file a renters insurance claim.

The process to file a renters insurance claim is fairly straightforward. Here are the high level steps for tenants:

  1. Notify the Landlord: Let the landlord know what is happening. If the unit is damaged, the landlord will need to coordinate repairs. Depending on the situation, like in the case of a burglary, the landlord may want to ensure the unit(s) are safe and habitable as well as inform nearby tenants.
  2. File a Police Report: Depending on the incident, filing a police report may be necessary and possibly required by the insurance company. In some cases, a police report substantiates the situation.
  3. Contact your Insurance Company – As soon as you realize you need to make a claim, contact your insurance company. They will be able to explain the process, provide the necessary forms, and answer questions.
  4. Gather the Necessary Documentation: To file a successful renters insurance claim, provide documentation of the damage or loss. This includes photos, receipts, and any other evidence (like a police report) that can help verify your claim.
  5. File the Claim: Submit the necessary paperwork to the insurance company and then wait for a response.

Myths about Renters Insurance

Renters Insurance Myths
Despite the myths about renters insurance, it is extra protection for tenants and worth consideration.

Most types of insurance are optional. Probably the two most popular types of insurance are automobile and health. And between the two, automobile insurance tends to be a requirement. Most states require automobile insurance to own (and thus register) a car. Health insurance, on the other hand, is not a requirement by anyone. Renters insurance is not typically legally required, however, some landlords may require it as part of their lease. Despite the myths about renters insurance, it is extra protection for tenants and worth consideration.

Myth #1: Landlord’s Property Insurance is Enough

Landlords have property insurance, which covers the physical structure of the property. It does not cover the tenant’s personal belongings. If a pipe bursts and floods the apartment, the landlord’s property insurance will cover the cost to repair the pipe and any affected building structure (e.g., rotted wood). It will not cover damages the water may have made on a tenant’s furniture, electronics, or clothing. Renters insurance will cover the value tenants place on their personal belongings. Without renters insurance, tenants could face significant financial loss if their personal property becomes damaged due to a covered event.

Myth #2: My Stuff Isn’t Worth Much

Some myths about renters insurance sound logical. Thinking your stuff isn’t worth much can certainly be one of them, especially if you have hand me downs (aka free stuff) or old appliances or electronics. This myth, however, is debunked when you find yourself needing to buy belongings because there was an unexpected event, like a fire, and you didn’t have renters insurance. Now, if you want to replace your stuff, you may have to buy new, which can be costly. Renters insurance would cover the cost to repair or replace your belongings up to your coverage limit.

Myth #3: Renters Insurance is Expensive

Renters insurance is actually quite affordable. In many cases, it is less expensive than homeowners insurance, which has to cover the physical structure of the building. Tenants decide on the type of coverage and amounts of coverage based on the value of their belongings. And increasing the deductible can lead to a lower premium. According to NerdWallet, the average cost of renters insurance is $179/year or $15/month. Premiums will vary based on the state in which you live and coverages.

Who Pays for Renters Insurance?

Who Pays Insurance
Tenants pay for renters insurance.

The labels for most types of insurance generally reflect who or what is covered. For example, automobile insurance is a policy that protects the car . . . and driver. Homeowners insurance is coverage for the home . . . and property owner. Medical insurance is coverage for health-related expenses . . . and the patient. Renters insurance is not vastly different. It is coverage for the renter’s personal property . . . and the renter (aka tenant). So who pays for renters insurance?

You are right . . . the tenant (or renter) pays for renters insurance. Who pays for renters insurance may surprise some when they learn the landlord’s homeowners policy generally does not cover tenant belongings. The homeowner’s policy generally covers the structural areas of the physical property. It is renters insurance, instead, that protects the tenant’s personal belongings up to the coverage amount.

In addition to protecting personal belongings, renters insurance insures tenants from liability or loss of use. For example, if a water line bursts and makes the home uninhabitable, then renters insurance will help cover the cost of a hotel while the rental property is under repair. Landlords like tenants to have renters insurance as it provides protection for tenants when the unthinkable happens.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Theft?

Renters Insurance Theft
Most policies for renters insurance cover theft.

Having something stolen from you is never a pleasant experience. And then figuring out a way to replace the stolen property is another challenge. In these situations of theft, renters insurance can help. Most policies for renters insurance cover theft. It is always good practice to review your policy with your licensed insurance agent to ensure it covers the items and situations important to you. Additionally, you will need to value your property so that the policy limits you select will protect you.

Most renters insurance policies will cover personal property that is stolen from within your rental unit, car, and even storage unit (if you have one). Theft of the actual vehicle or storage unit (i.e., the physical structure) is not covered under renters insurance. These items may be covered under a different type of policy, like automobile or personal property insurance. It is the “stuff” that is stolen from within that renters insurance covers. For example, if your car is broken into and your laptop is stolen from the back seat, then your renters insurance policy will likely cover the stolen laptop up to your policy limit and after the deductible payment.

Depending on your renters insurance policy, coverage of stolen property would be up to your policy limit after any deductible. When you design your renters insurance policy, be sure to set limits that are in line with the protection needed. This requires you to place a value on your personal property.

Types of Renters Insurance Coverage

Types of Renters Insurance Coverage
Type of renters insurance coverage include personal property, liability, and additional living expenses.

Renters insurance is a type of insurance designed to help tenants who are paying rent to live in rental property. The types of renters insurance coverage generally fall into three categories: personal property, liability, and additional living expenses. We will cover these at a high level below:

Personal Property

Very simply, personal property is stuff that a tenant owns. Everything from furniture to clothing to pots and pans are considered personal property. When designing a renters insurance policy, it is important for tenants to assess the value of their stuff. The value will help determine coverage limits. This way, if their stuff gets damaged due to a covered event, then their renters insurance policy will reimburse them the cost to repair or replace the item(s) up to the policy limit. For example, if a water pipe bursts in the rental property and ruins a closet full of clothes valued at $600, and if the renters insurance policy has a personal property limit of $2,000, then the tenant may be reimbursed up to $600 for replacing the clothing.


For the types of renters insurance coverage, liability relates to repairs or bills where the tenant is at fault. In other words, if the tenant is responsible for property damage or injuries sustained by the tenant’s guest while on property, then it is the liability coverage that will help the tenant. Similar to personal property, liability also has coverage limits that will protect up to those maximums.

Additional Living Expenses

Also known as loss of use coverage, this type of renters insurance coverage is exercised when you need to be temporarily relocated because the rental property is uninhabitable. These types of expenses can include hotel and food bills. For example, damage from a water line break may require the tenant to temporarily relocate to a hotel. The hotel expense may be covered under the renters insurance policy up to the coverage limit.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Pets?

renters insurance pet
Wondering if renters insurance covers pets? Check your policy for coverage details.

If your pet is the cause of damage or injury, you may wonder if renters insurance cover pets. The true answer is that it depends on your renters insurance policy. The liability coverage of renters insurance will most likely provide some protection when it comes to pets. You will ultimately want to review your policy and check with your insurance company for exact coverage. In some cases, you can specify a specific coverage for pet damage.

The liability coverage of a renters insurance policy will usually cover damages or injuries that your pet incurs on others. In other words, if your cat scratches you, your renters insurance policy will likely not cover your medical bills associated with the scratches. If your cat, however, scratches a guest in your home, then your renters insurance may cover the medical expenses incurred by your guest for the scratches. Payments would be made up to your policy limits.

How renters insurance covers pets also takes the type of pet into consideration. For example, some renters insurance policies will not cover exotic pets, specific breeds, or pets with a history of claims. Designing the right renters insurance policy with your needs in mind (pets included!) will provide you with the coverage you want when you need it. Find the right insurance company that can provide you with the coverages you want and need!

Renters Insurance vs Homeowners Insurance

renters vs homeowners insurance
Renters insurance vs homeowners insurance differ with what and who is covered.

Insurance is a form of protection for the policy holder when the unexpected happens. The insurance policy holder pays a premium to the insurance company. In exchange, the insurance company pays or provides coverage to the policy holder in the event of a covered loss. When it comes to renters insurance vs homeowners insurance, some primary differences include who and what is covered.


Homeowners insurance typically covers the home and its contents. The policy holder is the owner of the property. Coverage usually includes the cost to replace the home in the event of a total loss as well as the value of the contents in the home. Contents in the home is known as “personal property”. Property owners are not obligated to have homeowners insurance except when required. For example, mortgage companies usually require homeowners insurance. So if the homeowner has a mortgage on the property, then they will need to purchase such insurance.


When it comes to a rental situation, there is the property owner and the tenant. The landlord would have property insurance (aka landlord insurance) to cover the physical property. Tenants would have renters insurance to cover the value of their personal property. The property owner’s insurance policy on the rental property does not cover the tenant or the tenant’s belongings. Renters insurance will also cover tenants in a covered event (like water damage) requiring temporary relocation (like a hotel) or if they are liable for a visitor’s injuries while on property.

The primary differences when it comes to renters insurance vs homeowners insurance are that homeowners insurance also covers the physical building. Both insurances cover personal property and provide liability coverage. Homeowners are the policy holders of homeowners insurance. Tenants are the policy holders of renters insurance.

Is Renters Insurance Required?

Renters Insurance Required
States may not mandate renters insurance but landlords may as part of their lease agreement.

The short answer to “is renters insurance required?” is “it depends.” States regulate insurance, including renters insurance. To our knowledge, there are no states that legally mandate renters insurance. Landlords and property management companies, however, may require renters insurance as part of their lease agreements. It is important to check your state rental housing laws so you understand the rights as a landlord and as a tenant. It is also important to review the lease to see if it requires renters insurance.

Landlords may require renters insurance because it provides protection for tenants and landlords. In covered events, renters insurance can protect tenant belongings, reduce tenant liability, and provide housing if temporarily displaced. For landlords, renters insurance can reduce disputes with tenants over damage caused by events like water or fire. For example, if a water pipe bursts and damages the tenant’s furniture, it is the tenant’s renters insurance that replaces or repairs the damaged furniture. It is the landlord’s property insurance that covers the damage of the pipe break.

So the next time you hear the question, “is renters insurance required?”, you will want to check with your lease and your landlord to see if he/she is making it a requirement.

What is NOT covered by Renters Insurance?

Not Covered by Renters Insurance
Renters insurance does not cover everything.

When you purchase insurance, you hope it will save you in a time of need. You typically pay a premium every month to have insurance. So you really hope that it will be worth it when you need to use it. It is important to understand your insurance policy to to know what it will cover and what it will not cover. There are some situations that are not covered by renters insurance.

Natural Disasters not Covered by Renters Insurance

Renters insurance policies usually do not cover natural disasters. For example, if a flood or an earthquake damage your personal property, a renters insurance policy most likely will not compensate you for lost or damaged belongings. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you may be able to purchase a separate policy that could cover you in specific natural disaster-type situations such as earthquakes in California.

Bed Bugs or Roommate Possessions not Covered by Renters Insurance

If bed bugs or rodents damage your personal property, your renters insurance policy will likely not help you. Many insurance companies see bug infestation as a maintenance situation which is why you would likely not have any coverage in these cases. Additionally, your renters insurance policy will not cover your roommate’s possessions. Because your name is associated with your policy, coverage applies to your possessions.

Car Theft or Damage not Covered by Renters Insurance

You cannot expect your renters insurance policy to protect you when there is theft or damage to your car. It is your automobile insurance policy that protects you in these instances. Renters insurance may cover you if one of your possessions is stolen from within the vehicle.

As you look to purchase a renters insurance policy, be sure to ask questions about what your policy covers. By knowing what it will not cover, you will reduce unexpected surprises when you are in a time of need.

Does Renters Insurance Cover my Roommate?

Roommates and Renters Insurance
Renters insurance covers those listed on the policy up to the coverage limits.

Renters insurance generally covers the persons listed on the policy and may include those related to the named persons. Insurance is state specific. So it is important to check with a licensed agent in your area who can guide you on the best approach for renters insurance if you are in a roommate situation. So when you ask, “does renters insurance cover my roommate?”, it will probably come down to whether or not his/her name is on the policy.

Renters insurance has coverage limits. These limits are shared among those listed on the policy. To maximize coverage for your personal belongings, licensed insurance agents may recommend a policy only in your name even if you can list your roommate’s name on your policy.

Another benefit of only listing your name on the policy is related to a claims history. If you share a policy with a roommate, and your roommate files a claim, there is a chance that claim will be part of your insurance history. Claims on your insurance record may affect future premiums.

Renters insurance may or may not cover your roommate. In many cases, if your roommate’s name is not on the policy, then he/she will not be covered. Ask your licensed insurance agent about the pros and cons when adding or excluding your roommate from the policy.