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For the most part, the COVID-19 pandemic won't have much of an effect on your renters insurance. Billing is the aspect that may change. You might also have to navigate an online-only claims process if you suffer a loss.
How will the COVID-19 pandemic complicate renters' lives and renters insurance?
- What if you can't pay rent because of the coronavirus pandemic?
- Can you reduce your rent payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How will the coronavirus pandemic affect your renters insurance?
- How can you save money on renters insurance?
- Does renters insurance cover your office supplies if you work from home?
What if you can't pay rent because of the coronavirus pandemic?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many states instituted eviction moratoriums for tenants who were unable to pay their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the only state that still has a moratorium in place is New Mexico.
While the measures taken by the U.S. government to stimulate the economy during the pandemic-induced downturn carry many protections for homeowners, renters received comparatively fewer safeguards. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $1,200 in financial aid to many Americans, along with an additional $600 starting in January 2021. The federal government also imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium, though it expired in August 2021.
Additionally, many states have Emergency Rental Assistance Programs, or ERAPs, to provide rent payments if you're unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. However, availability varies by state, so you'll need to check what's available near you.
Which states have eviction freezes in place due to the coronavirus pandemic?
Currently, only New Mexico has an eviction freeze in place for those who cannot make payments due to losing their jobs or other livelihoods due to the pandemic. The ban put in place at the federal level expired in August 2021.
Because new developments related to the federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic 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 the COVID-19 pandemic?
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 the coronavirus pandemic affect your renters insurance?
Renters who have insurance are most likely to see changes to the billing and claims processes.
The coronavirus pandemic stands to affect most renters insurance policies similarly to homeowners insurance coverage. Many insurance providers waived late-fee penalties for policyholders impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, including stopping cancellations for missed payments. Some insurers that took this approach include:
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
Notably, some customers with Erie renters insurance can get coverage for gift cards that go unused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you buy 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 is 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. Many insurers have pivoted to online-first claims since the pandemic began, and agents now handle your claims electronically. You may be unable to get an insurance adjuster to your home in some 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.
Does renters insurance cover my office supplies if I have to work from home?
Property that's used for business purposes 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're less likely to have your laptop stolen since you'll be spending more time at home, it could be a good idea to increase your coverage for business property if you brought a lot of stuff home 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.