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 from work stoppages that make it hard for tenants to pay their rents. But responses from federal and local governments mean that there are a few ways renters can mitigate their lost wages.

As for your renters insurance, there aren't many ways that typical coverage will be changed by coronavirus. For the most part, your 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 COVID-19 has not allowed you to work, some states have instituted eviction moratoriums.

While the measures taken by the US government to stimulate the economy during the coronavirus-induced downturn carry many protections for homeowners, renters received comparatively fewer safeguards. However, if you're a tenant who can't pay your rent because of COVID-19, you might have some recourse.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $1,200 in financial aid to many Americans. 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 $600 per week in addition to your state's maximum unemployment insurance.

Which states have eviction freezes in place due to coronavirus?

In the meantime, multiple states and municipalities have implemented eviction freezes as a result of widespread work stoppages:

StateEviction freeze?Date enactedDetails
AlabamaNo--Order expired 1 June
AlaskaYes23 MarchHalts eviction proceedings until at least 30 June
ArizonaYes24 March120 days for people affected by COVID-19
ArkansasNo----
CaliforniaYes27 MarchMoratorium lasts until the end of CA's state of emergency
ColoradoPartial20 MarchEvictions resumed, but local resolutions may apply
ConnecticutYes10 AprilNo evictions from nonpayment until 25 August
DelawareYes24 MarchNo evictions or late fees for nonpayment until the end of the public health emergency
FloridaYes17 MayNo evictions or late fees for nonpayment until 1 July
GeorgiaPartial17 MarchEvictions have resumed, but local resolutions may apply
HawaiiYes17 MarchNo evictions until the end of June
IdahoNo----
IllinoisYes20 MarchNo evictions for nonpayment until 31 July
IndianaYes19 MarchNo evictions for nonpayment until 1 July
IowaNo----
KansasYes18 MarchEvictions suspended during state of emergency
KentuckyYes25 MarchEvictions suspended during state of emergency
LouisianaDepends16 MarchEviction proceedings have resumed in some local courts
MaineNo--There are no hearings until 30 days after the end of the state of emergency
MarylandYes16 MarchNo evictions for renters affected by coronavirus until the end of statewide emergency
MassachusettsYes27 MarchEvictions court is suspended until at least 18 August
MichiganYes20 MarchNo evictions for nonpayment until at least 15 July
MinnesotaYes23 MarchNo evictions until the end of MN's state of emergency
MississippiNo----
MissouriNo--Court is suspended except at the discretion of the judge
MontanaNo--Evictions have resumed, but MT's renters can apply for aid on the state's website
NebraskaNoNo--
NevadaYes29 MarchThe current eviction ban will be phased out in August
New HampshireNo----
New JerseyYes19 MarchNo evictions during the course of the statewide emergency
New MexicoNo--Residents can contact their local courts to prove they can't pay rent
New YorkYes22 MarchNo evictions for nonpayment until at least 20 August
North CarolinaNo--Evictions restarted 20 June
North DakotaNo--Evictions have resumed
OhioPartial1 AprilGovernor recommended that evictions stop. Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton have eviction freezes in effect.
OklahomaNo----
OregonYes22 MarchNo evictions for non-payment until at least 30 September
PennsylvaniaYes1 AprilEviction hearings are paused until 10 July
Rhode IslandNo--Evictions have resumed
South CarolinaNo--Evictions have resumed
South DakotaNo----
TennesseeNo25 MarchEvictions resumed on 1 June
TexasDepends--Your eviction protections vary depending on local laws
UtahNo----
VermontYes25 MarchStops eviction hearings, effectively ending evictions during the emergency.
VirginiaNo--Virginia has offered its residents help avoiding evictions
WashingtonYes17 AprilStops evictions until 1 August
West VirginiaNo----
WisconsinNo27 MarchEvictions have resumed
WyomingNo--Evictions have resumed

Because new developments related to the government's response to coronavirus emerge everyday, it's best to verify with your statewide legislation if you aren't sure whether your state has any protections in place for its 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 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. They still have to pay property taxes and depend on the income they receive from their tenants.

How will coronavirus affect your renters insurance?

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

Coronavirus stands to affect most renters insurance policies similarly to homeowners insurance coverage. Many insurance providers have waived late-free penalties for policyholders impacted by COVID-19, including stopping cancellations for missed payments. Some insurers taking 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 your 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 stages of the travel industry. If you're someone with an Airbnb reservation or who rented a room through another home-sharing service, you may be wondering whether you have to cancel your rental.

As an Airbnb renter, you can get a refund if you've booked your stay before March 15th, as long as your stay is no later than May 31st. The company is easing its cancellation penalties in an effort to lessen travel and stop the spread of the virus.

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 make less than $2,000 per year on home-sharing, so you couldn't recoup your lost rent.

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin who writes about insurance. His analysis has been featured in Forbes, MSN and USA 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.