When Do I Need To Get Renters Insurance?

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The government does not require individuals who rent their homes to purchase renters insurance, also known as HO-4 insurance. However, many landlords require their tenants to maintain renters insurance, meaning you may have to show proof of coverage before your lease begins.

Read on for more details about when renters insurance is required, what it typically covers and how much you can expect to pay for an HO-4 insurance policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Renters insurance is not a legal requirement in any state but landlords often require their tenants to maintain coverage.
  • While your landlord’s insurance covers your home and other structures on the property you rent, you will need renters insurance to cover your belongings, additional living expenses and costs related to bodily injury or property damage liability claims.
  • In 2020, the average cost of renters insurance was about $14 per month.
  • If you’re interested in an even lower renters insurance premium, you could raise your deductible, pick lower coverage limits, ask about discounts you may be eligible for and shop around by comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies.

Is Renters Insurance Required?

Renters insurance is similar to homeowners insurance in that it is not required by law in any state.[1] That said, it is possible that you could encounter renters insurance requirements depending on your circumstances.

When Is Renters Insurance Required?

In general, you should only be required to buy renters insurance if your landlord requires it as a condition of your lease.[1] However, it isn’t mandatory for landlords to impose a renters insurance requirement on their tenants, so it is possible that renters insurance could be completely optional for you.[2]

Should I Get Renters Insurance if It Isn’t Required?

Even if you don’t have to get renters insurance, you should still strongly consider purchasing a policy since it will cover losses that aren’t covered by your landlord’s insurance policy. For the most part, landlord insurance will only cover you if the structure of your home or other structures on the property you rent are damaged by a sudden and unpredictable peril.

Conversely, a renters insurance policy can provide you with extra protection, with standard policies including the following four coverage types:



Personal Property

Insures your belongings including furniture, electronics, clothing, appliances and more against sudden perils like fire and theft

Loss of Use

Covers additional living expenses such as hotel stays and restaurant meals if your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril

Personal Liability

Covers medical bills, lost wages, repair costs and legal expenses related to bodily injury and property damage claims you are held liable for

Medical Payments

Covers medical expenses related to minor injuries that occur on your property regardless of whether you are held liable

renters insurance coverage

Renters insurance policies usually insure belongings on a named peril basis. This means that an insurance company will reimburse its policyholder if the tenant’s personal property is damaged or destroyed by any of the following 16 perils.

Fire or lightning


Windstorm or hail

Volcanic eruptions


Falling objects

Riot or civil commotion

Weight of ice, sleet or snow

Damage by aircraft

Water/steam discharge from home systems and appliances

Damage by vehicle

Sudden/accidental tearing, cracking, burning or bulging of home systems


Freezing of home systems

Vandalism or malicious mischief

Sudden/accidental power surges

Who Needs Renters Insurance?

Renters insurance is recommended for everyone who rents their primary residence and doesn’t want to bear the full financial burden of an unexpected loss. You should note that renters insurance is generally affordable compared to other major types of insurance. The average renters insurance policy cost a little over $14 per month in 2020.[3]

If you have roommates, it’s possible that all of you may need to maintain separate renters insurance policies. For example, Florida law prevents you from sharing renters insurance with anyone other than your spouse, while some renters insurance companies in other states will only let you share coverage with a roommate who is related to you.[4]

Do I Need Renters Insurance if I Don’t Own Many Items?

No matter how many items you own and store inside of your house or apartment, you will most likely benefit from buying renters insurance coverage. The combined value of the average renter’s belongings is $30,000, which is a sum that most people would struggle to cover out of pocket in the event of a total loss.[5]

Even if you think you own a below-average number of items, it’s likely that you would have a hard time replacing your belongings in the event of a worst-case scenario.

For example, if a fire burns down your home and destroys all of your clothes and shoes, your bed, your laptop, a couch, a refrigerator and a microwave, you will have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to replace them if you don’t have renters insurance.

Consider making a home inventory documenting all of the most valuable items you own and how much they are worth so you can select an appropriate coverage limit for your personal property insurance. Many policies insure your belongings at their actual cash value (ACV), which takes factors like age or wear and tear into account and subtracts depreciation from your insurance settlement, although you may be able to pay a higher premium to secure replacement cost value (RCV) coverage, meaning your payout should be enough to replace all of your lost items.

Are There Alternatives to Renters Insurance?

You could potentially try to save up enough money to cover major losses out of pocket instead of purchasing renters insurance and filing a claim after a covered peril. However, renters insurance is generally the preferable option since it can cover losses right away if need be. For example, your savings account may be sufficient as a replacement for renters insurance if a covered peril destroys your belongings 10 years from now but you may risk going into debt if a covered peril destroys your belongings tomorrow since you won’t yet have enough money saved up.

Alongside renters insurance, you may want extra coverage types depending on your circumstances. For example, you may want flood insurance if you live in a high-risk flood zone since renters insurance policies often exclude coverage for flood damage.

In addition, you may want jewelry insurance if you own a large amount of jewelry or other valuables since these items generally come with a sublimit. This means your renters insurance payout after a jewelry-related loss will be well below your personal property coverage limit and potentially below the ACV of the jewelry itself.

How Can I Save on Renters Insurance?

Some simple actions you can take to lower your renters insurance premiums include lowering your coverage limits and raising your deductible. Choosing a renters policy with lower coverage limits will naturally save you money, although you should make sure the policy you settle on can still provide enough money to adequately cover your belongings and potential liability concerns.

Meanwhile, your deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket every time you file a claim. Selecting a high deductible will lead to lower premiums since your insurer will be responsible for a smaller portion of the costs whenever you experience a covered loss. However, you should make sure you always have enough money set aside to cover your high deductible in case of a loss.

renters insurance deductible vs premium

In addition, you should search for discount opportunities that could lead to a lower premium. For example, State Farm offers discounts to policyholders who bundle their renters insurance with their auto insurance and install home protection features like smoke detectors or security systems.[6]

How To Get Renters Insurance

Whether you’re shopping for renters insurance for the first time or want to hunt for a better deal, you should compare quotes from at least three to five different insurance carriers. Be prepared to provide each company with information such as where you live, how valuable your belongings are and whether you own anything that could raise your liability exposure such as pets.

The best way to collect multiple quotes quickly is to go through SmartFinancial. Simply answer a handful of questions about the coverage you need and we’ll match you up with insurance agents who are prepared to help you find the right renters insurance policy for you. To get started, click here and we’ll help you get a renters insurance quote free of charge.

Get a Free Renters Insurance Quote Today!


Do all landlords require renters insurance?

No, not all landlords require their tenants to carry renters insurance.

Is renters insurance required in California?

Renters insurance is not required by law in California but your landlord may require you to carry renters insurance.

Is renters insurance required in Texas?

State law doesn’t demand that Texas renters carry renters insurance, although many landlords require their tenants to maintain coverage.

How much renters insurance do I need?

You should purchase your own renters insurance policy with enough personal property coverage to replace all of your belongings in the event of a total loss and at least $300,000 worth of personal liability insurance.[7]

What happens if I don’t have renters insurance?

If you don’t have renters insurance coverage, you’ll be completely on the hook for any expenses related to liability claims or damage to your belongings. In addition, your landlord could evict you if purchasing renters insurance was a requirement in your lease agreement.


  1. Allstate. “Is Renters Insurance Required?” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.
  2. Travelers Insurance. “Can a Landlord Require Renters Insurance?” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.
  3. Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Renters Insurance.” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.
  4. Allstate. “Can You Share Renters Insurance With Roommates?” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.
  5. Allstate. “Allstate Renters Insurance.” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.
  6. State Farm. “Renters Insurance Discounts.” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.
  7. Insurance Information Institute. “Renters Insurance.” Accessed Feb. 14, 2024.

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