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What Happens If I Don’t Have Renters Insurance?
What does renters insurance cover, and what happens if I don’t have renters insurance?
These questions are things that many renters or prospective renters have asked over the years. First-time renters especially aren’t always aware of what renters insurance is or how it works. If you’re on a budget and are trying to avoid unnecessary expenses, the extra cost of a renter’s insurance policy may seem needless. Is getting rid of renters insurance an option?
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Let’s start here, with the actual ‘what’ and ‘why’ of renters insurance coverage. What exactly does this type of insurance cover?
Think of renters insurance as the renters equal to homeowner’s insurance. Like home insurance, a renters insurance policy will typically be multi-faceted. Offering liability coverage, protection for your belongings, and even additional living expenses if your rental should become temporarily unlivable.
For instance, if a visitor slips and falls in your apartment and decides to sue you for their injury, your renter’s insurance policy would shield you from liability. Liability coverage would also help to cover any damage to the building caused by you or your guests.
Personal property coverage is also included in renters insurance policies and covers your furniture, clothing, electronics, and any other belongings you have in the rental. If the building were to catch fire and your belongings were destroyed, your renter’s insurance would help pay to replace those losses. On the same note, if the fire left your rental unliveable, your renter’s insurance policy would cover hotel costs. Other temporary living expenses would also be covered until you could find a new permanent living situation.
Do I Really Need Renters Insurance?
So, what happens if you don’t have renters insurance?
The first point that is important to make is that you probably aren’t violating any laws by not having renters insurance. You aren’t legally required to have renters insurance, just like homeowners aren’t legally required to purchase homeowners insurance.
However, just because there is not a law for you to follow doesn’t mean you should consider—or even can consider—ditching your renter’s insurance policy.
One big reason that you need renters insurance is to appease your landlord. Renters insurance is often called ‘tenants insurance’. A term that underlines the importance of this type of coverage to the landlord/tenant relationship. Landlords will typically have insurance policies for the properties they own and manage. These policies provide the landlord with coverage in cases where there is damage to the building or where someone holds the landlord responsible for an injury. In other words, they aren’t so different in the types of coverage they provide than a tenants insurance policy.
The answer is that a landlord’s insurance policy is designed to cover the landlord and their property. In other words, you—the renter—is not covered at all. You only have coverage if you purchase renters/tenant insurance—hence the importance of obtaining it every time you rent a property.
To understand what happens if you don’t have renters insurance, let’s return to the hypothetical fire scenario mentioned above. You are living in an apartment building, and the building catches fire. You make it to safety yourself, but you lose all your belongings in the blaze. What do you do?
The answer is there isn’t much you can do. You have no coverage for your personal property, which means those items are gone. You have no way of getting reimbursed for them and will now be responsible for the cost of replacing them. With renters insurance, you could have replacement cost coverage. Without renters insurance, you have no recourse for recovering what was lost. Your landlord will file a claim on his or her insurance policy and use the money to make repairs and renovations. However, this policy does not extend to your personal belongings in any way.
Now, let’s complicate matters further and say that your actions or negligence caused the fire in the first place. With a tenants insurance policy, you could have fallen back on your liability coverage to pay for building damage, injuries to other tenants, and other costs. Without tenants insurance, you are on the hook to cover the costs. You will likely find yourself on the defense side of many lawsuits.
Bottom Line: You Need Renters Insurance
The message here should be simple: you need renters insurance. With it, your belongings are protected, and you are shielded from crushing legal liability. Without it, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in replacement of your personal property. Damage to the building, and injuries of fellow tenants. Given a choice between these scenarios, you should want to purchase tenants insurance coverage.
The good news is that your landlord probably will not let you get away without having renters insurance anyway. Indeed, most landlords require their tenants to purchase renters insurance before moving in. There are numerous reasons that this status quo exists. If a tenant damages a landlord’s building and has no renters insurance, the landlord must file his or her own insurance claim—and pay the deductible! If the tenant has renters insurance, it can at least cover the landlord’s deductible, if not the full extent of the damage.
Regarding liability, there is always a chance that someone hurt in a tenants unit will try to blame the landlord. Renters insurance protects against an injured person’s medical costs. The likelihood of that person filing a lawsuit against the landlord is substantially reduced.
Ultimately, asking questions like ‘What happens if I don’t have renters insurance?’ is a worthwhile way to learn more about this type of coverage and why it matters. Trying to move forward with a rental without renters insurance, is reckless at best. If you are renting a property and want to protect yourself from personal property losses and legal liability, tenants/renters insurance is the type of coverage you must have.
Our team of insurance professionals are always here to help find the right insurance for you. Send us an email, check out “The Blog”, or give us a call to chat with one of our professionals.