Renters Insurance

How to Buy Renters Insurance

How to Buy Renters Insurance

Find Cheap Renters Insurance Quotes in Your Area

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Due to a growing number of reliable insurance companies in the industry, you can easily buy renters insurance online or by speaking to an agent. Unlike other forms of insurance, there's no enrollment period for buying coverage. Wherever you decide to get renters insurance, you should be prepared to compare the costs and coverage options of multiple insurers, find out how much your stuff is worth and decide which dangers your home faces.

Renters insurance repairs or replaces your damaged personal property, gives you liability coverage and provides you with additional living expenses if you are forced to leave your home temporarily. It doesn't pay for damage that your dwelling's structure sustains. But because renters insurance only covers your personal property, most of the information you'll have to gather about your household will be easy to find — sometimes all that's needed is an address. Being organized could save you time and money as you search for insurance providers.

Where can you get renters insurance?

You can get renters insurance from a variety of companies, from large providers like State Farm and Allstate, to smaller online-only insurers like Lemonade and Jetty. In most cases, getting renters insurance doesn't take very long, especially if you choose to buy a policy online. You're also able to purchase renters insurance whenever you want — as long as you're not set on connecting directly with an agent.

We've provided a brief overview below of how to choose from among the best providers, but you could also use the quotebox above this article to connect with providers nearby.

Decide among online and traditional renters insurance companies

A number of cheap, reputable insurers operate without a conventional physical location or agents. Even some larger companies where you can buy renters insurance, like Geico, are developing an online presence that utilizes artificial intelligence to interact with its customers. Although you can still purchase renters insurance by talking to an agent, unconventional options tend to be faster and often more affordable than many large providers with physical offices.

If you're interested in comparing online retailers with other renters insurance providers, you could visit Lemonade or Jetty. These two insurers allow you to view, customize and purchase renters insurance in less than five minutes. Due to these companies' accessibility, it's easy to compare their policies against other providers to get the best coverage for your needs. However, neither company is available in every state.

Look for cheap coverage

Your cheapest option isn't always the best choice when it comes to buying renters insurance, but the price of a policy is still an important factor to consider. Your policy's price is influenced by where you live and how much coverage you need. So, while the national average cost of renters insurance per year is $187, the price of your policy will likely vary. For example, we found that the cheapest renters insurance on average from a large insurer came from State Farm, with a $205 annual premium — a price that's above the national overall average.

Depending upon where you live, it might not be realistic to match the national average. States that encounter frequent or increased natural disasters like Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma tend to have higher yearly costs. On the other end of the spectrum, areas of the country whose exposure to devastating storms is lower have average renters insurance rates much less than the national average of $187 per year. If you lived in the Dakotas or Wisconsin, for example, you could pay less than $140 per year for renters insurance.

When deciding where to buy renters insurance, use the national average as a baseline when collecting quotes from different insurance companies; however, you should also remember the role that your area's hazards, such as weather and crime, will play in the prices you are quoted.

Compare customer service scores

In addition to checking the cost of different renters insurance policies, you should compare how satisfied a company's policyholders are when they make a claim. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) tracks the number of complaints insurance companies receive. This information can be found on the NAIC's website or through your state's insurance board.

It can also be useful to glance at J.D. Power's ratings for any company before purchasing a policy. J.D. Power specializes in analyzing customer experience. Companies are graded on a scale of one to five. Companies with higher scores from J.D. Power received a higher generally positive feedback from other consumers. Providers like Erie Insurance and USAA tend to have very high customer satisfaction scores from both the NAIC and J.D. Power. However, it's worth knowing that USAA is only available to military families.

Do you need renters insurance?

There's no legal requirement to buy renters insurance, but we recommend that you — or your live-in family member, if you have one — keep an active renters insurance policy whenever you rent. Roommates aren't covered by each other's renters insurance unless they're also related, so each tenant will need their own. At an average cost of renters insurance $16 per month, renters insurance doesn't cost much while providing effective financial protection from fire, theft and most disasters.

When you apply to buy renters insurance, you'll be asked about the value of your property — many companies suggest $30,000 of property coverage as a default choice. You can opt for a lower limit, but that's only a good idea if you've already added up the value of your things and found that the number is below the default figure. Besides, it's possible that you'll accumulate more belongings over time, raising your total coverage requirement.

You can also usually change the value of liability protection that comes with your policy, though typically coverage starts at $100,000. Liability insurance protects you if someone else files a lawsuit against you for property damage or injuries they suffer. When determining how much coverage to buy, you should consider your total assets and whether you have any hazards on your property, like swimming pools or certain breeds of dogs.

How to buy renters insurance online

You can buy renters insurance online from most companies. Many providers supply online forms that allow you to request a quote and purchase coverage without speaking to an agent. Buying renters insurance online usually consists of three steps:

  • Calculating the value of your belongings.
  • Shopping for the right amount of coverage.
  • Understanding how to change your rate.

Calculate the value of your things

You can calculate the amount of coverage you need by starting an inventory of your things. This inventory should include the names of your items, their serial numbers, descriptions of their functions and prices with appended receipts – if available. If you have to make a claim, having an inventory is a useful tool for giving yourself the best chance of regaining the value of your possessions, especially if you don't have replacement cost coverage.

Once you know what you own, you can decide if you have any special items like jewelry or art that wouldn't be covered by most renters insurance policies. Instead, to insure these items you'd need to purchase riders or endorsements.

Know how much insurance to buy

You will be required to input any information of other members of your family that will benefit from your insurance, like a partner or spouse. Occasionally insurers will allow you to add roommates to your policy, too. Be aware that any claims your roommate makes for his or her property could affect the prices of your own future premiums.

If your property is in an area that's prone to certain disasters, it could be a good idea to purchase additional coverage when buying renters insurance. For instance, floods, sinkholes and earthquakes aren't typically covered by a standard renters or homeowners insurance policy. If you live in a coastal region that experiences hurricanes, you may have to buy flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Otherwise you would have to pay out of pocket to rebuild your home if it were destroyed by a flood.

Understand your price

Before you choose where to buy renters insurance, you should make sure that you're getting the best price for your lifestyle's insurance requirements by raising or lowering your coverage limits and adjusting your deductible.

The price of your renters insurance is determined partly by the levels of coverage you buy. This means that if you're unsatisfied with a quoted price, you could try lowering your personal property protection and liability insurance on your application. However, you should continue to make sure that the coverage you buy will still be enough to protect you from any losses if your property was damaged.

You can also change your price by adjusting your deductibles. A deductible is the money that you have to pay if you want to make a claim. Many renters insurance policies carry deductibles of at least $500. This means that if your $1,000 laptop were destroyed, you would be charged $500 before your company will make a payment. If you elect a higher deductible, your monthly premiums will be lower — but so will your claim payments.

Chris Moon

Chris is a Product Manager for ValuePenguin with years of experience in addressing critical questions about mortgages and homeowners insurance. He spends his time evaluating insurance providers and policy features to understand where consumers might find the most cost-effective coverage. Chris has contributed insights to the New York Times and many other publications.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.