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Edited by John Leach
Last Updated June 4, 2021
How long does it take to get renters insurance?
Getting a renters insurance policy is a quick process that can be done in an afternoon. Most insurance companies let you print a Certificate of Insurance as proof to show your landlord.
Renters insurance is an inexpensive way to protect the things you own. If you’re going to be renting, buying renters insurance is a smart move. The costs can be about the same as a Spotify subscription but can potentially save you thousands of dollars if you run into a problem.
You know you need it, but you might not understand how to get renters insurance. Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think. And it’s quick, too. You can easily do it in one afternoon. Compare renters insurance quotes on Insurify today.
What Is Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance is a type of policy that protects your “stuff” when you rent your living space. It’s also called personal property insurance because it covers your belongings whether you’re home or away.
It can pay to repair or replace your property after loss due to damage or theft. Policies also have personal liability coverage to protect you financially if you’re found liable for injuring someone or damaging their property.
Why You Might Need Renters Insurance
Renters insurance isn’t always required. The only time you’ll “need” a policy is if your landlord or building requires it.
But life can throw you a curveball when you least expect it. Having a policy will save you a substantial amount of money and frustration in many situations.
Consider the financial impact of:
A lightning surge that damages your television
A burst pipe that ruins your furniture
A fire that destroys your belongings
A thief that steals your laptop
A friend, relative, or neighbor being bitten by your dog
Without renters insurance, you could be left paying for property damage out of your own pocket. That’s because your landlord’s insurance policy only covers the structure of the rental property. It does not apply to your belongings or protect you from liability if a guest is injured in your home.
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How to Get Renters Insurance
If this is your first time buying insurance, you might feel overwhelmed. But the process will be easier if you know what to expect ahead of time. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get renters insurance.
Step 1: Understand what renters insurance covers
Understanding what your policy covers can give you peace of mind. A standard renters insurance policy has several types of coverage:
Personal property coverage covers your belongings from fire, theft, vandalism, bad storms, and other hazards.
Medical expenses coverage covers medical bills if a guest injures themselves in your home.
Personal liability insurance covers legal fees and court awards if you’re found liable for injuring or damaging a person or their property.
Loss of use covers additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable after a covered loss.
Most policies will require you to buy additional coverage for high-value items. If you have furs, fine art, or collectibles, ask your insurance agent about coverage options.
Step 2: Research types of renters insurance policies
Like homeowners insurance, there’s more than one type of renters policy. Renters insurance has two major types:
Broad form covers personal items against specific types of hazards that are named in the policy, such as fire or theft.
Comprehensive form covers personal items against a variety of disasters unless expressly excluded in the policy.
Broad form policies are the most commonly purchased type of renters insurance, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Its popularity is partly due to being a cheaper option. Because broad form limits the causes of damages to those specifically listed in the policy, the premiums are lower.
A comprehensive form policy can protect against a wide range of events. The exception is hazards that the policy specifically excludes. It’s typically a more expensive option partly because it covers more causes of damage compared to a broad form policy.
No single policy can cover all potential sources of damage. Take flooding, for instance. No renters policy will protect against water damage caused by flooding. To get flood protection, you must purchase separate flood insurance.
Step 3: Estimate the value of your things
When you buy renters insurance, make sure your policy has enough coverage for all of your possessions. Your stuff is probably worth more than you realize.
If you’re underinsured, your policy won’t be enough to pay to replace your items if a fire or other disaster destroys your things.
To estimate the value of your belongings, make a home inventory. You can accomplish this by:
Listing your belongings on paper
Tracking items using a home inventory app
Taking photographs of your items
Creating a video to document your things
Estimate the value and include the amount for each item in your home inventory. It can help you determine the amount of coverage to buy.
It also helps to make a note of serial numbers and other identifiers of high-value items. That way, you have the information handy if you need to file a claim.
Step 4: Choose an insurance company
Once you determine how much insurance you need, you’ll be ready to find an insurance company. Many insurers offer renters policies.
If you have an auto insurance policy, you should start your search with that company. Many insurers offer discounts for buying more than one policy with the same company. It’s called a bundling discount.
However, bundling with your car insurance might not be the cheapest option. Get a separate quote to make sure you get the best renters insurance at the best price.
The easiest way to compare insurance premiums is with an online quote comparison site. The best sites to compare renters insurance gives you real-time rates based on the information you submit during the shopping process.
Step 5: Start the application
After investigating company options, you’ll complete the renters insurance application. Many insurers let you complete the process online. Here’s what you’ll need:
Personal information: your name, birth date, Social Security number, employment status
Rental information: property address, square footage, and construction materials
Animals: whether you own (or plan to own) dogs, cats, chickens, or other indoor or outdoor animals
Foundation: If you’re renting a manufactured or mobile home, you’ll answer information about the foundation, year it was built, length, and width.
Fire and security features: whether the rental unit has smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, deadbolts, or a burglar alarm
The information you provide will impact the rate of your policy. Make sure you have the right details ahead of time to get the most accurate quote.
Step 6: Finalize policy details
Before you sign off on your policy and pay your premiums, you’ll set a deductible and choose a coverage type.
The deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying when you file a claim. Standard options for renters policy deductibles are $500 and $1,000, but your insurer may offer other options.
The amount is usually subtracted from the final claim check.
For instance, let’s say your deductible is $500. If your television was stolen and the insurance company approves a claim of $1,000 for the television, you’d only receive $500. So your deductible is $500 and the insurance company pays $500 for a total of $1,000.
Another critical decision is the type of coverage. You can choose between actual cash value and replacement cost. Your decision determines how much your insurer will give you to cover your personal belongings if you file a claim.
Actual cash value considers depreciation when calculating the value of the item. The policy pays the amount it would cost to purchase the same or similar item in a similar condition to the one you lost.
Replacement cost value doesn’t factor in depreciation. The policy pays the amount equal to the cost of a new item.
Replacement cost gives you better coverage. However, it costs about 10 percent more than an actual cash value policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
If cost is a primary concern, you might consider an actual cash value policy. The premiums are usually cheaper. But keep in mind that you might not get enough from the insurance company to replace your belongings.
Step 7: Pay for your policy
The final step is to pay for your policy. How you pay depends on the insurance company. Many allow you to make monthly, semiannual, or annual installments. These payments are called your insurance premiums.
Some companies offer a discount if you sign up for an annual payment.
So, how much is renters insurance typically? According to the III, policyholders pay $179 per year on average for renters insurance.
Your premiums might be more or less than the average cost of renters insurance, depending on how much coverage you buy, your deductible, the policy type, your location, and the add-on coverages you choose.
How to Get Renters Insurance FAQs
Whether you’re renting an apartment, house, condo, or mobile home, the process to get renters insurance is the same. Figure out how much coverage you need, and compare quotes and policy options from multiple insurance companies. This way, you can get the coverage you need at the best price.
Renters insurance is quick and easy to get. You can usually do it in an afternoon. Once you understand what a policy covers and the type and amount of coverage you need, you can get a quote online in minutes.
Renters insurance coverage is inexpensive. The average policyholder pays about $15 per month. Online comparison sites are a quick way to compare premiums to get the cheapest renters insurance.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.