What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance is a policy designed to help protect you financially if you rent a home, apartment or condo. It pays to replace or repair your belongings, up to your policy limits, should they be damaged or stolen. Additionally, renters insurance helps pay for repairs if you accidentally damage others' property. It also pays for a guest’s medical bills if you’re found responsible for his or her injuries. And, it usually includes additional living expenses, which helps pay for expenses such as hotel bills, if your rental becomes uninhabitable due to fire or some other catastrophe.
Average renters insurance rates by ZIP code and coverage level
The national average renters insurance cost for a policy with recommended coverage levels of $40,000 for personal property, a $1,000 deductible and $100,000 of liability protection is $197, or about $17 a month, according to an Insurance.com rate analysis. But that’s just one set of coverage limits. What you pay for renters insurance will vary, based on your credit history, coverage amounts and where you live, among other factors, but is typically very affordable. To get a personalized average cost of renters insurance, enter your ZIP code and choose a personal property, deductible and liability limit in the tool below. Read further down if you need help deciding how much coverage you need, or refer to our renters insurance guide and renters insurance basics for more information on what renters insurance covers and how to buy a policy.
in your neighborhood
Here's a look at available coverage that could be right for you. The details were gathered from various sources, including the Insurance Information Institute (which is a trade group), United Policyholders (a consumer group) and William F. Harris, an independent insurance agent in Los Angeles.
Minimum renters insurance coverage
If you are a college student living off campus, or don't have a lot of valuable possessions or other assets, then you may find adequate protection with a very bare-bones policy providing a maximum of $12,000 to replace lost, stolen or damaged items. The coverage would include $100,000 for liability, which is important in case someone is seriously injured in your home and hits you with a lawsuit and legally tries to be reimbursed for medical expenses. A minimum policy like this often has a $500 deductible and usually costs around $100 a year, maybe a little more or less, depending on a few factors, including where you live and your credit history.
If you bumped up your personal property limits to $20,000, the nationwide average cost would be $148, according to Insurance.com’s rate analysis. You can also reduce the premium by $10 by raising the deductible to $1,000. But keep in mind that you may have to pay out-of-pocket for items not covered within the policy's limit.
Note, however, that such low limits of personal property coverage are not recommended, as the average person has at least $35,000 worth of property, according to State Farm. Many other insurance companies echo this, saying a typical renter with a two-bedroom apartment would have about $35,000 in personal belongings.
You can always raise your property limits later if your assets increase. You'd also want to increase liability coverage. More on liability in the "higher-end coverage" section.
Mid-level renters insurance coverage
One size policy rarely fits everyone, but a policy that satisfies the basic needs of many people can be bought for as little as $120 to $190 a year, depending on where you live and other factors, according to the III. A policy typically includes a maximum coverage amount of $25,000 for personal property, a $500 deductible and $100,000 in liability protection.
The III points out renters often increase the deductible to $1,000 while raising the property coverage to $50,000 or $60,000. The higher deductible helps to keep the premium from rising significantly. For example, the national average renters rate for $60,000 in property coverage, a $1,000 deductible and $100,000 in liability is $252. Such a policy protects your electronics, clothing and other important items, but may not fully cover highly valuable items like pricey jewelry. You may have to buy a separate "endorsement" for that. More on this later.
For a young family that has acquired more stuff, a policy with at least $50,000 in property coverage and $100,000 or more in liability protection is recommended. In general, for each additional $10,000 personal property coverage you carry, your premium might increase by $15 to $20. Also, insurers suggest raising liability to $300,000 in many cases, which could hike your premium by $50 or more a year.
A policy covering $60,000 in property, with a $1,000 deductible and $300,000 in liability costs $266 a year, on average.
Higher-end coverage limits for renters insurance
The policy, of course, depends on your assets and property. For example, a higher-end policy with $100,000 in property coverage and a $500 deductible and $100,000 in liability, costs on average, $402 a year. Not enough protection? Again, for each additional $10,000 in property protection you carry, your premium would likely increase by about $15 to $20. The premiums for wealthier renters can go as high as $500 or even $1,000 a year as they increase coverage.
Liability limits are also important considerations. Although insurers recommend $300,000 in liability protection for most people, you probably want higher limits if you have lots of savings or other valuable assets. You may want to buy an umbrella policy, which generally provides $1 million in coverage that pays out once your liability benefits are exhausted.
What about endorsements for high-value items?
A standard renters insurance policy includes coverage for jewelry and other high-value items (furs, watches, collectibles, among other items). But there are limits on how much your policy covers, which is specified in the contract. For example, the III notes that in a typical policy, stolen jewelry is only covered up to $1,500.
To ensure you can replace the jewelry or other expensive items, you can purchase a separate endorsement (also known as a "rider") to fully cover their value. The endorsement's amount is set by you and can come with a separate deductible which is similar in amount as the deductible on your main policy.
"These valuable items need to be 'scheduled,' which means a separate (endorsement) policy for each item," explains III spokesperson Lynne McChristian. "For instance, insurance for jewelry is about one to two percent of the value of the item, so insuring a $50,000 diamond ring could cost between $500 and $1,000 annually."
As for the separate deductible, she adds that "you have the opportunity to select which deductible works best for you and your budget, and the higher the deductible amount means the lower your policy cost (for the endorsement). But it does mean you pay more out-of-pocket if you have a loss."
How to buy renters insurance?
The best way to be sure you're getting the best coverage with your rental insurance at the most affordable price is to follow these steps:
1. Create an inventory of your personal items, and their value, or the cost to replace it with something of equal value. This will enable you to know how much coverage you need for your personal possessions. This is the personal property coverage portion of your policy.
2. Opt for replacement value on your personal items. Here's why: Replacement policies cover the actual cost of replacing your possessions. As an example, if your TV is destroyed, your insurer would replace it with a brand new TV of a similar size and quality, regardless of its age when it was destroyed. These policies ensure that you will receive the full cost to actually replace your possessions. Replacement cost polices tend to be more expensive than actual cash value but offer the peace of mind that your possessions will be replaced.
3. Choose a deductible amount for your personal property protection. Typically amounts are from $500 to $2,500. This is the amount you pay out before your policy kicks in to pay for repair or replacement of your belongings.
4. Decide how much liability insurance you want. Liability insurance covers the medical expenses of people who are hurt while in your home or on your property, as well as damage you caused to others’ property. It also covers legal fees if you are sued by someone hurt in your home or on your property. Limits of $300,000 or $500,000 are recommended. A policy that caps liability coverage at $100,000 will almost certainly be cheaper than a policy offering $300,000 of coverage but you could end up on the hook for some major expenses if someone is seriously injured in your apartment as $100,000 will quickly be eaten up by hospital bills.
5. Make sure you include additional living expenses. Not all insurers offer this coverage so be sure all of the policies you are considering offer additional living expenses coverage.
6. Once you know how much you need -- in property and liability -- you can compare renters insurance quotes to see which company has the most affordable rental insurance rates. Be sure you compare the identical coverage amounts for each company you research. Your current car insurance company is a good place to start, as most of them also sell renters insurance and offer some kind of a bundling discount.You should get rental insurance estimates from at least three companies.
You'll see in our guidance that we advise you to consider paying a bit more for coverage, to be sure you're fully protected, rather than just picking cheap renters insurance based on price alone. That's because renters insurance cost per month is typically very affordable, even when you opt for high liability and personal property limits, replacement value and additional living expenses. The national average renters insurance cost for a policy with recommended coverage levels of $40,000 for personal property, a $1,000 deductible and $100,000 of liability protection is $197, or about $17 a month, according to an Insurance.com rate analysis. A policy covering $60,000 in property, with a $1,000 deductible and $300,000 in liability costs $266 a year, on average, which is just $22 a month.