Renters Insurance

How Will Coronavirus Affect Renters and Renters Insurance?

How Will Coronavirus Affect Renters and Renters Insurance?

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As coronavirus continues to convulse financial institutions across the country, most renters will likely feel the impact of the virus due to work stoppages that may make it hard to pay rent. But responses from federal and local governments mean that there are a few ways renters can mitigate their lost wages.

As for renters insurance, there aren't many ways that typical coverage could be changed by coronavirus. For the most part, billing is the most likely aspect that may change. You might also have to navigate an online-only claims process if you suffer a loss.

How will COVID-19 complicate renters' lives and renters insurance?

What if you can't pay rent because of coronavirus?

If you can't pay rent because the coronavirus pandemic has not allowed you to work, the CDC has instituted a federal eviction moratorium.

While the measures taken by the U.S. government to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus-induced downturn carry many protections for homeowners, renters received comparatively fewer safeguards. However, the CDC has created a federal notice stating that there will be a temporary halt in residential evictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The government also allows some recourse for individuals who have been impacted by the pandemic.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $1,200 in financial aid to many Americans, along with an incoming $600 starting in January 2021. As Congress continues to work on new legislation, it could be useful to know that existing increases to unemployment insurance mean you could soon start receiving up to $300 per week in addition to your state's maximum unemployment insurance.

Which states have eviction freezes in place due to coronavirus?

Currently, all states have an eviction freeze in place for those who can not make payments due to losing their jobs or other livelihoods due to the pandemic. This stems from the CDC’s federal register notice titled "Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19".

To qualify, individuals must meet one of the three following requirements:

  • Earn no more than $99,000 individually or $198,000 jointly in 2020.
  • Received a CARES Act stimulus check in 2020.
  • Not have had to report any income to the IRS in 2019.

Furthermore, anyone who wants to take advantage of the CDC eviction moratorium must fill out a declaration titled "Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Temporary Halt in Evictions to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19".

For people who don’t meet any of the above criteria, each state has its own legislation on evictions and rent during the pandemic. The table below lists each state’s protections in place concerning evictions and rent non-payment.

State
Eviction freeze?
Date enacted
Details
AlabamaNo--Order expired June 1, 2020.
AlaskaYesMarch 23, 2020Halts eviction proceedings until at least June 30, 2020.
ArizonaYesMarch 24, 2020120 days for people affected by COVID-19.
ArkansasNo----
CaliforniaYesMarch 27, 2020Moratorium lasts until the end of California's state of emergency.
ColoradoPartialMarch 20, 2020Evictions resumed, but local resolutions may apply.
ConnecticutYesApril 10, 2020No evictions from nonpayment until Aug. 25, 2020.
DelawareYesMarch 24, 2020No evictions or late fees for nonpayment until the end of the public health emergency.
FloridaYesMay 17, 2020No evictions or late fees for nonpayment until July 1, 2020.
GeorgiaPartialMarch 17, 2020Evictions have resumed, but local resolutions may apply.
HawaiiYesMarch 17, 2020No evictions until the end of June, 2020.
IdahoNo----
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Because new developments related to the federal government's response to coronavirus emerge every day, it's best to verify with your statewide legislation if you aren't sure whether your state has any further protections in place for renters.

There are currently no rent freezes in effect, so you still owe your rent — even retroactively. While some landlords are waiving rent outright, this isn't the case for the majority of the nation's property owners.

Can you reduce your rent payments because of COVID-19?

Since there are no laws excusing rent from tenants or providing relief specifically to landlords, working out a deal with your landlord is likely the best way to reduce your rent payments right now.

If you can't pay your rent, it's a good idea to ask your landlord if you can transition to a payment plan where you commit to paying a partial amount of rent each month. You should contact your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you can't pay, along with what you could realistically pay and for how long.

An agreement like this could be beneficial to both parties, especially if your property is managed by a landlord with fewer properties. Your landlord still has to pay property taxes and depends on the income they receive from tenants.

How will coronavirus affect your renters insurance?

Renters who have insurance are most likely to see changes to the billing and claims processes.

Coronavirus stands to affect most renters insurance policies similarly to homeowners insurance coverage. Many insurance providers had waived late-fee penalties for policyholders impacted by the onset of COVID-19, including stopping cancellations for missed payments. Some insurers that took this approach include:

  • State Farm
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Travelers
  • USAA
  • Farmers
  • Lemonade

Notably, some customers of Erie renters insurance can get coverage for gift cards that go unused as a result of COVID-19. If you have a gift card for a locally owned and operated business that closes within a year, you could be reimbursed up to $250 per card, or up to $500 overall. This feature will be added to typical policies at no cost.

If you have to make a claim, you'll have to use the online directions provided by your insurer. Since in-office work has halted across the country, agents now handle your claims electronically from their homes. You may be unable to get an insurance adjuster to your home in most cases, but your provider may ask you to utilize photographs and video to complete any claims.

How to save money on renters insurance

There are a few ways to generate savings on your renters insurance if you already have a policy or are looking for cheap coverage. Unlike homeowners insurance, you're not required to carry renters insurance by a lender. This means that you can let your policy lapse if you need money from your monthly premiums for rent or food expenses.

However, you don't have to go without coverage — and we don't recommend it — especially since many companies are excusing late fees. Rather, you should consider shopping around for a cheaper policy by comparing quotes or adjusting your policy's protections and deductible to lower your premiums.

If you have car insurance, you could qualify for a stay-at-home payback. Coronavirus has resulted in far fewer drivers on the roads. This has led a few companies, like Allstate and American Family, to return a fraction of their policyholders' premiums. If you qualify for such a payback, it could offset your monthly cost of renters insurance.

Does renters insurance cover my office supplies if I have to work from home?

Property that's used for business is covered by your renters insurance — up to a point.

Under most policies, property that's primarily used for business or a professional occupation is allotted some protection against covered perils. For example, you might receive $2,500 of coverage for business equipment that's at home, or $500 if you take it out of your house.

While you probably won't have to worry about your laptop getting stolen since you'll be spending more time at home, it could be a good idea to increase your coverage that's available for business property if you brought a lot of stuff from your office. If your $1,500 laptop gets damaged, your policy might cover it. But if you damage your laptop, monitor and portable keyboard, you might be stuck paying for things yourself.

What is the impact of coronavirus on Airbnb renters?

The proliferation of coronavirus has disrupted all parts of the travel industry. If you're someone with an Airbnb reservation, or you rented a room through another home-sharing service, you may be wondering whether you have to cancel your rental.

As an Airbnb renter, you were able to get a refund if you booked your stay before March 15, 2020, as long as your stay was no later than May 31, 2020. The company is easing its cancellation penalties in an effort to lessen travel and stop the spread of the virus. However, these cancellation protections have not carried further into the pandemic.

Airbnb offers a $25 credit to anyone who attempts to book an in-person experience in a country that has paused these events. This money can be repurposed for a future experience once the country is open for business.

However, if you're someone who lets their home through a home-sharing service, you may be facing a loss that's not included in the loss-of-use coverage afforded by a typical renters insurance policy. Most renters insurance agreements only cover your property if you earn less than $2,000 per year on home-sharing, so you couldn't recoup your lost rent.

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst is a Data Writer at ValuePenguin who reports on insurance. His analysis has been featured in Forbes, MSN, USA News and Fox News, among others. He's also appeared in interviews broadcast by ABC and the CW. He previously taught composition and research at Wright State University.

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.