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Renters insurance will cover your personal belongings whether they are stolen 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 your typical renters insurance policy covers different kinds of theft and how you can file a claim.
When does renters insurance cover theft?
Your renters insurance will cover the vast majority of theft cases from your apartment or house, so long as the property belongs to you or a family member. Theft protection also extends outside your home. If your bike is stolen from the outside, or your luggage is stolen while you're traveling, you would be able to file a claim with your 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 broken into.
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 theft 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 covered under 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 to recoup their losses. Renters policies do not extend to everyone in the household automatically unless they are family members — your spouse or children.
Each roommate needs to take out their own plan or be joined together on the same plan. Some companies will allow you to add one non-relative. If you live in an area prone to crime and burglary, we'd highly recommend all renters get their own policies. Keep in mind that the total coverage limit of your policy will be shared among everyone. If you add your roommate to your renters policy, you may need to increase your coverage limits to cover both your possessions.
On the other hand, if your roommate stole something from you, you might be able to make a claim to your insurance policy, but it's not 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.
How much will I be covered for 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 amount you can be reimbursed for high-value goods like electronics, jewelry and money — these are called "scheduled items." If a thief stole your computer or cell phone, you would be typically covered up to a couple thousand dollars. The following table shows some common scheduled limits:
Common limits to coverage
|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 exceed 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 What is a renters insurance endorsement? is generally a few extra dollars per year and can be well worth it if you have expensive equipment in your rental.
Lastly, if for whatever reason your property is stolen in a place you do business, there would be a limit to your coverage — typically around $1,500. For example, if your office was broken into and your personal belongings were 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, negative experience, but taking the right steps after you experience a theft can make getting compensated faster and easier.
- Call the police or go to the station to make a police report as soon as you're able to 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.
- Once you have a copy of the report, you can file your claim either online or over the phone to your renters insurance company. 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 remembered paying for them.
- Your company will then review the case and the police report. The time it takes for your claim to be verified and paid out can range from a few hours to a week or two, depending on the size of the claim and the circumstances surrounding the theft.