If you rent an apartment or a home, consider buying renters insurance. Renters insurance covers your personal belongings and provides liability coverage similar to homeowners insurance.
The property owner’s insurance does not cover your personal property or liability. However, a renters policy will help protect you and your belongings. It can even cover additional living expenses (hotel, meals, and more) if a disaster causes the home or apartment to become uninhabitable.
Typically, renters insurance has a low premium, with most policies between $15 and $30 a month. When shopping for renters insurance, do not assume the cheapest quote is the best option. Make sure to compare both the price and the coverage options before purchasing a policy.
This page provides more information about renters insurance. You can also use this
shopping tool in this consumer guide to help you compare prices and coverage options.
Why do I need renters insurance?
If you rent a house or apartment and experience a fire or other disaster, your
landlord’s insurance will cover only the costs of repairing the building. You
need renters or tenants insurance to financially protect yourself.
Most policies cost from $15 to $30 a month, depending on the coverage options.
So, for less than your monthly coffee budget, you can protect your personal
possessions and financial assets from fire, theft, and other disasters.
Can my landlord require me to get renters insurance?
Yes, Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 90.222 allows a landlord to require you to
have a renters insurance policy. Landlords are not allowed to require that
they be named as an additional insured on the insurance policy. However, they
can be named as having an interest in the policy so that they are informed
if you let the policy lapse. ORS 90.222 does limit the amount of liability
coverage the landlord can require. Refer to the statute if you believe the
landlord’s requirement is unreasonable.
What types of discounts are offered on renters insurance?
Insurance companies often provide discounts on renters insurance if you have
another policy with them – for example, car or business insurance.
You may also get a discount if you:
- Have a security system, deadbolt locks, or smoke detectors
- Have good credit
- Stay with the same insurer
- Are older than 55
Another way to trim the cost of the insurance is to have the highest deductible
you can reasonably afford.
Three types of financial protection
Renters insurance provides three key types of financial protection. The frequently asked questions in each section will help you choose the right coverage for your specific needs.
1. Coverage for personal possessions
Coverage for your personal property is a key part of renters coverage, protecting you from theft, fire, and other events.
How much insurance should I buy?
Purchase enough insurance to replace all of your personal possessions if a
burglary, fire, or other covered disaster occurs. The easiest way to determine
the value of your personal possessions is to create a home inventory – a detailed
list of your belongings, along with their date of purchase and estimated value.
You can take photos or videos or use an app to help you remember everything.
Add the estimated cost to replace the items; if possible, that’s how much insurance
you should buy.
Should I choose replacement cost or actual cash value?
Actual cash value policies will deduct for depreciation (the aging of an item).
Actual cash value is what you would get if you sold the item today. Replacement
cost coverage will pay the amount needed to replace the item. Replacement cost
policies cost a little more, but pay out more to buy replacement items.
What is my deductible, and how does it work?
A deductible is the amount of money you pay before insurance coverage kicks
in. For example, if you have a $500 deductible and a fire destroys $5,000 worth
of furniture, the first $500 is your responsibility and your insurance company
will cover $4,500.
Renters insurance deductibles are generally specified as a dollar amount, which
can be found on the declarations page. The larger the deductible, the lower
your insurance premium will be. An important way to save money on your premium
is to get the highest deductible you can afford.
What is a “floater” and do I need one?
A floater is an endorsement to a renters policy. It is used to schedule valuable
items that are worth more than the limits of insurance the policy provides.
For example, if the policy limit for jewelry is $2,500 and your $10,000 ring
is stolen, you get only $2,500 if the ring is not specifically listed on the
It is important to know the policy limits. If you have expensive jewelry, furs,
collectibles, sports equipment, or musical instruments, consider adding a floater
to your policy to protect those items.
Am I covered if I am traveling or away from home?
Most renters policies include off-premises coverage, which means belongings
outside of your home are covered against the same disasters in your policy.
For example, property stolen from your car or a hotel room while you are traveling
would be covered.
Are my items in my storage unit covered by renters insurance?
Storage units do not usually come with insurance, so you need to purchase coverage
yourself. Check your renters policy to see if it covers items in storage. Generally,
you can add stored items using a rider if it is not already covered by your
Which disasters are covered and which ones are not?
Renters insurance covers you against losses from fire or smoke, lightning,
vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm, and certain types of water damage (such
as from a burst pipe or if the tenant upstairs leaves the water running in
the bathtub and floods your apartment).
Like standard homeowners policies, most renters insurance policies do not cover
floods or earthquakes. Flood coverage is available from the National Flood
Insurance Program and a few private insurers. You can get earthquake insurance
as a separate policy or have it added as an endorsement to your renters policy,
depending on where you live.
Liability protection covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage unintentionally done by you or your family members. This coverage pays for the cost of defending you in court, up to the limit of your policy. Most liability coverage will include no-fault medical coverage. This means, if someone is injured in your apartment, they can submit the medical bills directly to your insurance company.
Liability does not typically include damage done to the property you are renting. So, if your aquarium breaks and water damages the apartment, your policy will not cover it.
Do I need an umbrella liability policy?
If you need a larger amount of liability protection, consider purchasing a
personal liability umbrella policy. An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach
the limit on the underlying liability coverage provided by your renters or
auto policy. It will also cover you for things such as libel and slander.
3. Additional living expenses
Additional living expenses (ALE) coverage kicks in if where you live is destroyed by an insured disaster and you need to live elsewhere for a time. This coverage is found on many home and renters insurance policies.
What does ALE cover and for how much?
The additional living expenses portion of your renters insurance policy pays
for hotel bills, temporary rentals, restaurant meals, and other expenses you
incur while your rental is being repaired or rebuilt. Essentially, it covers
the expenses you would not have to incur if you were still able to live at
Most policies will reimburse the full difference between your additional living
expenses and your normal living expenses. There are generally limits as to
the total amount the insurer will pay or time limits specifying how long you
are eligible for the ALE payments. Make sure you are comfortable with the limits
of the policy you choose.
renters shopping tool in this consumer guide to compare multiple insurance companies. First, decide how much coverage you need for each category. Put that amount in each section in the left-hand column. Ask each company to quote the same level of coverage so you can compare actual premium costs. It is not only about cost. Make sure the companies are licensed to do business in Oregon and check their financial strength and customer service.