What Your Renters Insurance May Not Cover

There are a number of benefits that accompany the choice to live in a rental property. That leaky faucet? Not your problem. Drafty windows? Call the landlord. Fire damage? Good thing you’ve got his number stored in your Favorites.

But what about all of the things you keep inside that apartment of yours? Those skis you shouldn’t have bought (but aren’t you glad you did?); your brand new Nikon; or the painting spent months looking for to fill the spot right above your living room couch. For these things and more, you can obtain renters insurance, which covers your personal belongings in the event of theft, damage in said fire, or personal liability – should your friend fall and break a wrist while helping you hang that new artwork of yours.

Renter’s insurance is a no-brainer safeguard, especially for those living in dense urban areas; however, standard renters insurance won’t cover everything you own in every type of situation. Selecting a provider and speaking with an agent to discuss your needs is a good first step. To help determine the appropriate level and type of coverage, be sure to talk with your insurance agent regarding the following items which may not be covered.

1. High-value Jewelry

Wedding rings, watches and other high-end pieces of jewelry may exceed the personal property limitations included in a standard renters insurance policy. To ensure these items are covered, speak to your agent about additional coverage, or riders, that will protect these jewels. This can also apply to antiques, rare collections (coins, figurines, stamps, etc.) and even items such as musical instruments and valuable clothing.

2. Roommates

In some cases, renters insurance may not cover your roommates unless they have been added to your policy as an additional insured person. Talk with your agent to determine if this is a good solution, or if your roommate would be better served by obtaining his or her own coverage.

3. Floods and Earthquakes

While standard renters insurance covers out-of-pocket expenses resulting from lightning, windstorms, hail, snow and ice, it will not cover flood damage. (Little known fact: Flood insurance is only available to residents in flood-prone areas through the federal government.)

If you live in an earthquake region, you should purchase earthquake coverage in addition to your renters insurance to supplement your protection.

4. Business Equipment

If you work from home – especially if you claim home office tax deductions when filing your annual tax return – it’s more than likely the equipment and supplies you use for business will not be covered under standard renters insurance. This can include computers, video cameras, musical instruments; in other words, anything necessary to perform your business obligations that is claimed on your tax return is ineligible. If you’re a small business owner, or frequently work from home, be sure to discuss this with your insurance agent to be sure you have the right coverage to protect your assets.

5. Pet Damage

Most renters insurance policies generally include some liability coverage for damage attributed to your pet (for example, a dog bite). However, some dog breeds may be excluded from coverage, or some municipalities may require specific coverage for select breeds. If you’re a pet owner, be sure to add this to your list of things to discuss with your insurance agent when you’re signing up for your policy.

Renters insurance is a low-cost investment to protect your personal belongings, but it’s important to have the right coverage for full protection. Talking with your agent and discussing what may not be covered is your best bet for obtaining the coverage you need to take care of all your stuff.

Further reading: Why Renters Insurance Matters on the Zillow.com blog