What Is Renters Liability Insurance?

Renters Liability Insurance Explained in Less Than 4 Minutes

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Renters liability insurance is a standard part of a renters policy that protects against claims of bodily injury, property damage, or medical bills for which you’re legally liable. Even though you don’t own the apartment you live in, you still have possible liability risks that should be protected. And while renters liability insurance isn’t mandated by law, your landlord may require you to have some form of a renters policy.

Learn more about renters liability insurance, how it works, why you need it, and how to get it.

Definition and Examples of Renters Liability Insurance

Renters liability insurance covers claims or lawsuits resulting from bodily injury or property damage to others caused by an accident while on the property you rent.

For example, let’s say a visiting friend trips and falls in your apartment and breaks their leg. If the injured person sues you for bodily injury and medical payments, renters liability insurance should help cover the costs of these liability claims made against you.

Renters liability insurance will also cover unintentional damage to the landlord’s property caused by you, like damage from an accidental kitchen fire.

How Renters Liability Insurance Works

Renters liability insurance helps pay for another person’s injuries, medical bills, or repairs to their damaged property if you’re found legally liable for them. If the affected person sues you for a covered occurrence, your renters liability insurance will help you offset the legal fees and any related damages.

Living in a rented apartment or house, you may think that your landlord’s insurance covers damages and injuries to other people for whom you may be liable. However, your landlord’s insurance policy typically covers damage to the structure itself and injuries that occur in common areas. Accidents or injuries in your unit are your responsibility.

If you live with a roommate, look into the possibility of buying a renters policy together. Some policies will automatically extend coverage to other residents of your household who are classified as domestic partners.

A standard renters policy provides $100,000 worth of renters liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage to others. However, you can increase your coverage limits by buying personal liability umbrella insurance. The umbrella policy kicks in once you’ve exhausted your limits on the underlying liability coverage your renters policy provides. Coverage may also extend to things like libel and slander.

Renters liability insurance is sold as part of a renters policy that generally offers these other types of coverage:

  • Personal property: Pays for damage to your personal property caused by a covered peril. This might include damage incurred from a windstorm or vandalism.
  • Loss of use: Covers your additional living expenses, such as meals and hotel stays, if you must temporarily vacate your rental after its rendered uninhabitable by a covered peril.

Do I Need Renters Liability Insurance?

You may choose to forgo renters liability coverage with the assumption that your landlord already has a policy that will cover you. However, it’s unlikely that your landlord’s policy will cover you since landlords insure the building they own. Here’s why you may need your own insurance policy, even as a renter.

Requirement From Your Landlord

Although the law doesn’t mandate renters insurance, your landlord may require you to have this coverage. Your landlord’s policy covers only the structure of the building—renters liability coverage covers bodily injury or property damage to other people in your unit.

Check to see if there is a clause in your lease requiring you to provide proof of renters insurance. For instance, your landlord may ask for this to be submitted within 14 days of the lease commencing.

Slip-and-Fall Injuries

Renters liability insurance can provide a safety net against claims of slip-and-fall injuries made against you. If someone trips and falls inside your apartment and they hold you liable for the injuries, your liability policy could help pay their medical bills and cover the expenses of a lawsuit.

Damage to Your Neighbor’s Property

Renters liability insurance will help cover damage to adjacent properties. For instance, if a leaking pipe in your unit floods your neighbor’s unit, renters liability insurance may help cover the cost of replacing items that were damaged (if you’re held liable).

You’re Not Covered Under Your Parents’ Policy

If you’re a dependent of your parents under 26 years old and living on-campus at college, their renters or homeowners insurance policy may still cover you. However, if you live off campus, your parents’ policy may only cover up to 10% of personal property.

Key Takeaways

  • Renters liability insurance is part of a standard renters policy that protects you against claims of bodily injury or property damage to others.
  • The law doesn’t mandate renters liability insurance, but your landlord may require you to have this coverage in place.
  • You can increase the coverage limits of your renters liability policy by buying a personal liability umbrella policy.