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Do You Need Renters Insurance Before Moving In

Millions of Americans rent their homes rather than own them- but the things inside the house that make it into a home have just as much value (financial and personal) and are every bit as at risk of theft or damage.

If you are a renting tenant or about to move to a new rental property, you may be wondering if you need renters insurance- and if so, do you need it before you move in? The following guide provides a simple answer to that question, plus an in-depth look at what renters insurance is, what it covers, why it is beneficial, and who needs it.

The Short Answer

Renters’ insurance is not required by law- but landlords often require it as part of the lease agreement. Depending on the terms of the agreement, you may have to show proof of your insurance policy before you move into the property.

Some landlords do not ask for renters insurance policies because their landlord’s insurance covers their interest- but that does not mean your personal property is covered. Having some renters insurance before moving into a property is generally a good idea to cover your belongings immediately once you get there.

What Is Renters Insurance?

Renters’ insurance coverage is similar to homeowners insurance in that it is taken out by someone living in a property to protect their belongings and finances in the event of theft or damage. While homeowners insurance is (as the name suggests) for those who own the home they live in, renters insurance (you guessed it) applies to tenants leasing their home from someone else.

Also, like homeowners insurance, renters insurance offers financial coverage for stolen or damaged personal belongings rather than paying out of pocket for replacements and repairs.

Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance policies do not generally include building coverage- mainly because the landlords should have those things covered through their insurance company, and these repairs are not usually the tenants’ responsibility.

Here are the three core elements in most renters insurance policy agreements.

Personal Property Coverage

Contrary to popular belief, your personal belongings are not covered by your landlord’s insurance company (only in some rare circumstances). Your renters’ insurance covers replacement costs for items damaged (if not your fault) or stolen if your apartment is broken into.

Additional Expenses

Your renters’ insurance policy can help with the costs if you incur additional living expenses when your apartment is not fit to live in (gas leaks, reparative construction, mold removal, etc.). Depending on your policy limits, you may have something to pay alone, but it will be much less than without insurance.

Some policies may also cover extra travel to and from work if your temporary residence is further away. If the heating is broken, and you need to plug in electrical heaters that run up your bills, you could claim for this also.

Liability Coverage

Personal liability coverage applies to incidents when someone is injured on your rental property. If you are liable for expenses such as lost wages, medical bills, and other compensation, your renters’ liability insurance can save you from paying large sums by yourself.

Who Needs a Renters Insurance Policy?

Realistically, anyone living in a rented property can benefit from having renters insurance- even if their landlord does not require it. Of course, if it is included in your lease agreement, you must have it- usually, before you move into the property.

Some categories of tenants especially need renters insurance- either because they are more susceptible to needing it or their financial situation puts it in their best interest.

People with Pets

Dog owners specifically should have a renters insurance policy that includes liability coverage. Most policies cover expenses related to dog bite injuries- either to the owner or someone else on the property.

On average, claims for dog bites settle for around $39,000- a sum that few people can afford to pay out of pocket. Having insurance to cover your liability can save you from significant financial hardship.

Low-Income Tenants

If you have a low income, paying to replace damaged or stolen, items could be financially crippling- or not possible at all. It could put your budget under significant strain or use up your savings. There are fairly inexpensive insurance policies available that relieve this burden and give you the peace of mind you need knowing your belongings can be replaced if needs be.

Renters who have Financial Assets to Protect

At the other end of the scale, wealthy tenants- or those with valuable assets they want to protect- should have an insurance policy for their rental property to avoid losing them.

This applies in two ways. First, if the belongings and furnishings you have in your house are valuable, replacing them could cost a lot of money. Fires and floods, for example, can quickly destroy a massive portion of your property- racking up expenses into the tens and even hundreds of thousands for those with valuable items in their rental home.

Secondly, if you are found liable for an accident or incident in your home, your assets could be on the line to cover the compensation and expenses. You don’t need to worry about insurance, as it allows you some protection.

If your belongings have a high combined value, choose an insurance policy with a high payout limit to cover everything.

Off-Campus College Students

Students who don’t live on campus in dedicated student accommodation (usually covered by the university, college, or parent’s homeowners insurance) should have renters insurance. If they are prone to hosting parties that involve drinking, the risk of someone getting injured is higher. Student housing is also sometimes a target for theft as security is often lacking, and more people come in and out.

When Is Renters Insurance Required Before Moving In?

As discussed, the law does not require tenants to have renters insurance before moving in, but the landlord or property management company may include it as a prerequisite of the lease agreement. In this case, you need it. Otherwise, your lease will likely be terminated for breach of the agreement.

It may also be required before moving in if you have pets- this is something that many landlords view as an added liability for damage.

The Benefits of Having Rental Insurance

Having renters insurance is beneficial in many ways, regardless of your situation. The obvious reason for having it is its protection in unforeseen circumstances, but there are more benefits than you might think.

  1. Your personal belongings are also covered when you travel.

  2. It protects you from expensive liability if an accident happens.

  3. If you need emergency housing, your insurance can help.

  4. Short-term renters are also covered, including Airbnb guests.

  5. You don’t need to worry about your finances if your property is stolen.

  6. It provides peace of mind when you are not at home.

  7. There are various add-ons for particular items, meaning you can cover everything in one policy.

How Much Renters Insurance Do Tenants Need?

How much coverage you need depends on your situation. The rule of thumb is to take out a policy with a coverage limit roughly the same value as your own. That way, even if everything is destroyed (in a fire, for example), you have full coverage.

This is a worst-case scenario, and you may prefer to save a little money and take out a lower-tiered policy- assuming you won’t need the total amount. It is best to take a complete inventory of what you own and what it is worth, then choose your policy based on the level of risk and monthly costs you are comfortable with.

Look into the policy specifics, as many have limits for high-value items such as jewelry. You may need to purchase an add-on if you have a significantly valuable collection of items.

Summary

Anybody moving into a new rental property should take out coverage with an insurance company. It is not always required explicitly before moving in, but it is a good idea to have it just in case. Depending on your policy, you may have some coverage on a moving day, although a reputable and licensed company such as Valet Moving Services provides separate insurance.

Protect your belongings, finances, and peace of mind with renters insurance- don’t leave it up to chance!

Frequently Asked Questions


Why should you consider getting renters insurance?

In short, you should consider getting renters insurance because the unexpected can happen at any time, be it theft, accidents, or disasters. Having renters insurance protects your finances by providing support in replacing and repairing the property, as well as covering you for liability in accidents that happen in your home.

Do you have to have renters insurance in Texas?

Texas law does not require renters insurance. It is only essential if your landlord or property management company requires it as part of the lease agreement.

Should I get renters insurance even if it is not required?

Yes, it is a good idea to get yourself renters insurance whether or not it is asked of you. You wouldn’t drive without car insurance or go abroad without travel insurance, so why would you rent a property and move your valued belongings there without renters insurance?

We generally own a lot more than we realize- and the total value is something most people don’t think about until they have to replace it. Without insurance, it can be a rude awakening if the worst happens.

How much does renters insurance cost in Texas?

Renters’ insurance costs in Texas range from as little as $80 to $400 or more for high-value packages. The average cost is roughly $173 per year- which is slightly higher than the national average.

All-in-all, it is generally very affordable- much more affordable than the replacement cost for a lifetime of personal property if it is stolen or damaged.

How much is renters insurance in Round Rock?

The average renters’ insurance policy in Round Rock costs roughly $160, but it depends very much on the policy details and the company you use. There are some very affordable options for basic coverage, and some premium insurance companies charge a lot more money for a lot more coverage.

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