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After signing a lease, persuading your friends to help you with yet another move, and maybe buying a new rug, you might think the apartment rental process is complete. But what happens if there’s a fire, someone steals your laptop or a guest slips on your kitchen floor and breaks their wrist?
That’s where renters insurance comes into play. Renters insurance is often overlooked, but we found policies that offer up to $20,000 worth of coverage for personal belongings for about $14 a month. These policies also offer liability coverage and payment for additional expenses in the event a policyholder can’t live in their home because of a problem covered by the policy.
We scored the top renters insurance companies based on price, discounts and coverage options.
The Best Renters Insurance Companies
Why we picked it: American Family earned our pick as the best overall renters insurance due to its below average prices, plus a solid selection of add-ons and discounts.
You can increase coverage for jewelry, gemstones, watches and furs, for example, to cover theft or loss. You can also add personal injury protection to your policy which can provide coverage in case you are accused of slander, libel or other issues.
American Family also has a “diminishing deductible.” Each year you do not make a claim, your deductible will decrease, to a maximum of $500. You’ll also find a good variety of discounts, for things like smart home systems and customer loyalty.
Potential drawbacks: American Family renters insurance is only available in 19 states, primarily in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.
Why we picked it: Lemonade has good prices, and it’s our top pick for “hard-to-find coverage.” If you want a policy that offers coverage for bed bugs or pet damage, for instance, Lemonade is a solid choice. You may also score discounts for being a loyal customer, having home protective devices and living in a gated community.
You also can add the “Absolute Lemonade” endorsement. This lets you skip paying your deductible for the first two losses during a policy period.
Potential drawbacks: You might get hit with a “dangerous dog” surcharge if you own a Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Chow, pit bull, Staffordshire Terrier, Presa Canario, Akita, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, wolf hybrid and/or any canine with a prior bite history.
Why we picked it: USAA earned our top spot for military members and veterans. There’s no overseas coverage if you are deployed, but you can get a discount up to 28% if you live on a military installation. Military uniforms and gear are covered worldwide for any problem, with no deductible.
USAA renters insurance also includes coverage for earthquakes, tidal waves and floods. You also can add coverage for electronics, which typically covers events like spills and drops.
Potential drawbacks: USAA is only available to military members, veterans and eligible family members.
Why we picked it: You can select an ErieSecure package that bundles varying levels of increased coverage for your personal belongings. ErieSecure bundles include identity recovery coverage, which can provide insurance for expenses related to restoring your identity if you are the victim of identity theft.
Erie renters insurance policies include coverage for freezer and refrigerator contents, for problems like loss of power or mechanical failure. Policyholders also can find discounts for alarms and sprinklers, or getting a quote in advance. “Mature” renters over a certain age may qualify for a discount, too.
Potential drawbacks: Erie’s rates are higher than average, and it only offers renters insurance in 12 states in the Midwest and East Coast and Washington D.C.
Why we picked it: Excellent prices compared to top competitors and coverage add-ons makes Auto-Owners a solid choice for renters. You can add coverage for refrigerated food that’s lost during a power outage, water damage for backed up sewers or drains, and waterbed liability coverage.
You’ll also find price breaks in the form of protective devices discounts, going paperless and paying your annual premium in full.
Potential drawbacks: While Auto-Owners renters insurance is available in much of the U.S., you won’t be able to get it in 24 states.
Tips for Buying Renters Insurance
If you’ve decided to do the right thing and get insurance for your rental, here are six great tips to help you navigate the process of obtaining renters insurance.
1. Take an inventory of your belongings
Taking an inventory of your personal possessions will help determine how much coverage to buy. The inventory should list all your valuable belongings, accompanied by information such as their age, current value and purchase price.
2. Consider the deductible
A deductible refers to the amount of money you’ll pay out of your pocket if an insurer covers your claim. Let’s say you file a claim for $3,000 in insured damage to your living room furniture and the insurer agrees to pay. If you have a $500 deductible on your renters policy, the insurer would deduct $500 from the payout, leaving you with $2,500. A higher deductible typically leads to lower insurance premiums.
3. Shop around
Get quotes from several renters insurance providers so you can compare prices, coverage limits, deductibles and other aspects of a policy. Keep in mind, however, that prices for renters insurance might not vary much from insurer to insurer. Why? The average monthly premium for renters insurance ranges from $15 to $30, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
4. Ask about discounts
If you already have an insurance policy for other things, say car insurance, your insurer may be able to offer discounts if you take out a renters insurance policy with them. You might qualify for a renters insurance discount, for instance, if you opt for a policy from your car insurance company.
5. Look into actual cash value vs. replacement cost
Actual cash value coverage reimburses you for the current value of your personal property at the time you file a claim. Consider a laptop computer, for example. Actual cash value would take into account the laptop’s depreciation in value over time, whereas replacement cost coverage would reimburse you for the full value of the laptop based on receipts you submit after you buy a replacement. In this scenario, you might receive only $750 for a laptop computer under actual cash value coverage but $2,000 under replacement cost coverage.
6. Inquire about other coverage
Chances are, you’re looking for a renters insurance policy to cover your belongings, but renters insurance can cover more than just your possessions. Renters insurance typically includes liability coverage, helping to cover your costs if a claim or lawsuit arises from injuries or property damage sustained by other people in an accident at the property you rent. When you’re considering providers of renters insurance, be sure to find out how much liability coverage they offer.
We scored renters insurance companies based on rates (20%), coverage options and endorsements (50%) and discounts (30%). Renters insurance rates are from insurance data analytics company Quadrant Information Services.