Ross: She won’t listen to me about renters insurance, either! Dr. Green: You don’t have renters insurance? What if somebody steals something?
What renters insurance covers is partially answered in the above video.
Personal property is something that you own. A TV is personal property. A slice of ham is personal property, though we doubt a stolen slice of ham would, pardon the pun, “meat” your deductible. If it is yours and may legally be owned, it’s personal property. If you can’t legally own it (marijuana in many states, or certain types of firearms, for example), it may still be personal property but coverage is highly unlikely.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover – Duty To Mitigate
First things first. You have a duty to mitigate risk. We realize that’s not common phrasing, but it’s a pretty straightforward concept. For coverage to exist, you need to take reasonable care. Leaving all your doors and windows open and going on vacation is not reasonable care. If you were to come home to a house barren of everything you own, coverage would not be likely. In the same way, you need to take reasonable steps to stop a loss from getting worse after you discover it. A Maryland apartment fire required evacuation of the entire building for a few days, and it was burglarized during that time. Securing the premises would be reasonable care to stop further loss.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover – Perils
Perils sound scary, and they are. They’re less scary when you know you have renters insurance to protect you. A renters insurance policy protects your personal property against perils named in the policy, which are broad:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil commotion
- Aircraft (includes self-propelled missiles, and spacecraft)
- Vehicles (not owned/operated by the insured)
- Smoke (sudden and accidental, not nicotine buildup on walls)
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Theft (from a known place where it is likely the property has been stolen)
- Falling objects (damage by, not damage to)
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging (such as in an HVAC system or hot water heater)
- Freezing (of plumbing/HVAC)
- Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current (excludes components of electronics)
- Volcanic eruption (excludes earthquakes)
All in all, that’s a pretty comprehensive list of things that could ruin your day. Those perils, or causes of loss, are the most common ones people experience (along with a few less common ones. People with Maryland renters insurance tend not to worry much about volcanic eruption).
What Does Renters Insurance Cover – What Happens When I Have A Loss?
Renters insurance is designed to put you back in the position you were in before the loss. Assuming you have an accurate and correct home inventory and replacement cost coverage on your policy, it’s just a matter of filing a claim, having someone review the damage or loss, and going about the matter of replacing your property. Recently, one of our insureds had a fire in her apartment. The property management moved her into another unit, and she was back on her feet in days.
To learn more about what renters insurance covers, you should check out our previous post on what liability renters insurance covers.