Does Renters Insurance Cover Theft?

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Renters insurance covers your personal belongings whether they are stolen from inside or outside your home. Your losses from theft are covered up to the limits of your policy, but certain objects may have separate, lower coverage limits.

In this article, we discuss how a typical renters insurance policy covers different kinds of theft and how you can file a claim.

When does renters insurance cover theft?

Renters insurance covers the vast majority of theft cases from your apartment or house, as long as the property belongs to you or a family member. Theft protection also extends outside your home. For example, if your bike is stolen from outside, or your luggage is snatched while you're traveling, you can file a claim with your insurance company to be reimbursed.

Does renters insurance cover theft outside my home?

Yes, your renters insurance policy covers theft almost anywhere in the world, regardless of the circumstances. You're protected if you're pickpocketed in New York City or if your hotel room in Paris is burglarized.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. You're not covered if something is stolen from a home still under construction or in active war zones. And some items, like boats, may not be covered outside your home.

Does renters insurance cover theft involving cars, bikes or motorcycles?

Renters insurance covers the theft of personal items from your vehicle, but usually excludes theft (or damage) to any motor vehicle, which includes cars, motorcycles and most motorized scooters. To protect those items, you'll need to rely on insurance for your vehicle, usually through comprehensive coverage.

However, if your car is stolen, you can make a renters insurance claim for anything that was inside. And if someone breaks into your car to steal belongings inside it, that's covered, too.

Renters insurance policies generally cover bicycles and other human-powered vehicles. However, some policies have payout limits that more expensive bikes might exceed, in which case you may need to purchase an endorsement to fully protect yourself.

Are roommates covered?

If your roommate's stuff is stolen and they aren't named on your insurance policy, you cannot use your renters insurance policy to recoup their losses. Renters insurance does not automatically extend to everyone in the household unless they are family members — your spouse or children, for instance.

Each roommate should take out their own plan or share the same plan. Some companies allow you to add one non-relative to a policy. If you live in an area prone to crime and burglary, we highly recommend all renters get their own policies. Keep in mind that the total coverage limit of your policy is shared among everyone. If you add a roommate to your renters policy, you may need to increase your coverage limits to cover both of your possessions.

On the other hand, if your roommate steals something from you, you might be able to make a claim to your insurance policy, but it won't be easy. First, you can't file a claim if you share a policy with them. Second, you'll likely have to file a police report accusing them of theft. So we recommend trying to resolve the situation with your roommate directly first.

For how much will I be covered after a theft?

You would be insured for the full limits of your policy for most ordinary objects. If your policy has a coverage limit of $10,000, you'd be reimbursed for up to $10,000 of stolen items.

However, renters policies usually cap the reimbursement amount for high-value goods like electronics, jewelry and money — these are called scheduled items. If a thief steals your computer or cell phone, you would typically be covered up to a couple thousand dollars. The following table shows some common scheduled limits:

Common coverage limits
Portable electronics$1,500
Fraudulent credit card charges$500

Your renters insurance policy may have different limits. Check your policy for more details.

If you own an item (or items) that exceeds these amounts, it's worth adding extra endorsements to your policy to protect them. A good renters insurance company will allow you to schedule jewelry, bicycles, electronics and musical instruments, though typically not credit cards or cash. The cost for scheduling is generally a few extra dollars per year and can be well worth it if you have expensive equipment in your rental.

Lastly, if your property is stolen in a place where you do business, there would be a limit to your coverage — typically around $1,500. For example, if your office is broken into and your personal belongings are stolen, you could use your renters policy to be reimbursed up to $1,500.

How to file a claim after a theft

Having something stolen is always a stressful experience, but taking the right steps after you experience a theft can make getting compensated faster and easier.

  1. Call the police or go to the station to make a police report as soon as possible after you discover the theft. This acts as proof that the theft occurred, and the sooner you do it, the sooner you'll be able to get paid. The details of the incident will also be freshest if you make your statement immediately.
  2. Once you have a copy of the report, you can usually file a claim online or over the phone. Make a list of everything that was taken, as well as the total value. You won't be expected to have receipts for everything that was taken, but their reported value should be close to what you remember paying for them.
  3. Your company will review the case and the police report. The time it takes for your claim to be verified and paid out may range from a few hours to a week or two, depending on the size of the claim and the circumstances surrounding the theft.

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