What Is Personal Liability Insurance for Renters?

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Personal liability insurance for renters refers to a type of coverage that covers the renter in case they can be held responsible for another person’s injuries or property damage, whether if it was at your rental or someplace else. It’s included in a renters insurance policy, but can also less commonly be purchased as a standalone option.

Keep reading to learn more about personal liability insurance for renters, what it covers and the right amount of coverage to get.

Key Takeaways

  • It is common for landlords to require their tenants to buy renters insurance that includes personal liability coverage.
  • Personal liability insurance for renters can cover costs related to accidents caused by your negligence, such as if your dog bites a guest or ruins your neighbor’s lawn furniture.
  • Personal liability insurance for renters will not cover business-related injuries or damages, car accidents, deliberate injury or damage or accidental injuries or damages to yourself or your property.
  • Personal liability coverage limits in renters insurance policies typically start at $100,000 limit.
  • Renters insurance costs $12 per month on average.

Is Personal Liability Insurance Required for Renters?

While there is no law requiring renters to have personal liability insurance, many landlords require tenants to have renters insurance that includes includes personal liability coverage as part of the rental contract. Meanwhile, some landlords may only require liability insurance coverage, but this will vary by landlord, so remember to verify what you need before purchasing any plans.

When Should Renters Consider Personal Liability Insurance?

Even if a landlord doesn’t require personal liability coverage, it’s still nearly always worth buying to provide renters peace of mind if someone is injured or their property is damaged in their rental unit. Personal liability settlements and other costs can be expensive, often reaching several thousands of dollars that your insurance might otherwise cover. For example, if a guest is bitten by a tenant’s dog, an insurance claim can cost $58,500 on average.[1]

This peace of mind is also affordable, with renters insurance costing $12 per month on average.[2] For this low cost, if you can be held liable, you can cover the medical bills if a guest is injured inside your apartment or help pay to replace a broken item.

Standalone personal liability insurance plans exist if you don’t want to get a renters insurance plan, although the protections it provides for the renter is less comprehensive. In general, buying renters insurance over standalone personal liability insurance is recommended because A) it’s already relatively affordable, B) it will fulfill most landlords’ insurance requirements and C) it can insure your personal property against various losses like fire and theft — a standalone liability policy will not.

What Does Personal Liability Insurance for Renters Cover?

Personal liability insurance can help pay for someone’s medical bills or repairs to their damaged property if you can be held responsible, as well as legal fees if the incident escalates into a lawsuit. Specifically, you may be covered for:

  • Covered losses away from home: Personal liability insurance may cover the costs of an accident away from your home. An example would be if you accidentally damaged a store’s lobby. Your liability coverage could provide financial aid if the business seeks compensation.
  • Damage to someone’s property: Personal liability coverage typically provides financial protection if you or someone else in your household causes damage to someone else’s property. For example, if your child is playing catch and accidentally throws the ball at your neighbor’s car and it cracks the windshield, then you may be held liable for paying for the windshield repair bill.
  • Legal fees: Personal liability insurance might help cover legal and lawyer fees if someone sues you for property damage or a bodily injury.
  • Lost wages: Personal liability insurance may also help cover lost wages if someone is injured on your property and it hinders their ability to work.
  • Medical bills to visitors: Personal liability coverage may help pay for the medical costs up to the limits of your policy if you’re held legally responsible for a guest’s injury that happened on your property. Common examples include slips and falls due to high-risk features like swimming pools, trampolines and faulty railings on stairs.
  • Dog bites: Personal liability insurance can help cover the costs of your dog biting another person. However, some dog breeds are excluded from personal liability coverage, frequently including German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Chow Chows, pit bull terriers, rottweilers and siberian huskies.[3]

Keep in mind that unlike a property damage claim, you will generally not have to pay a deductible for a liability claim.[4]

What Isn’t Covered?

Personal liability insurance will not cover everything and excluded scenarios will typically include:

  • Business claims: Personal liability claims that involve commercial activity related to your profession or your home-based business will not be covered.
  • Car accidents: Personal liability insurance will not cover damages from car accidents. Separate liability coverage through your auto insurance policy will be used instead.
  • Deliberate injury or damage: Personal liability insurance will not cover any intentional damages or injuries you caused to another person.
  • Personal injuries or damages: Personal liability insurance usually does not cover accidental damages or injuries you cause to yourself or your household members.
  • Certain injuries in common areas: Incidents that occur in areas not inside your unit, like common stairwells, the pool and sidewalks may fall under the landlord’s liability policy instead. For example, if your neighbor tripped because of a crack on the sidewalk in front of your door, then the landlord would likely be held liable. However, if your dog got loose, jumped in the pool and the splash caused water damage to your neighbor’s smartphone, then you would likely have to pay for damages.
  • Your own injuries: While personal liability insurance can pay for other people’s medical bills if you’re held liable, you will need to rely on your own health insurance coverage if you become injured.
  • Your own property damages: While personal liability, specifically, doesn’t cover your own property damages, your renters insurance will include personal property coverage that will insure your belongings against certain losses.

How Much Renters Liability Coverage Do I Need?

The personal liability coverage for renters will vary by plan, typically carrying limits between $100,000 to $500,000, with $300,000 being the general recommended amount to buy.[5][6] The actual rate your insurance company will change and will generally depend on factors such as:

Renters seeking additional liability coverage beyond the limits of their renters insurance policy should look into getting a personal umbrella policy. If you experience a claim that is so expensive that it exceeds the liability limits of your renters insurance policy, umbrella insurance can kick in to contribute to the remaining cost. That said, this is generally only recommended if you have a high risk profile, such as if you host guests frequently and have some amenity like a trampoline.

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Does my landlord’s policy cover my belongings and me?

Landlord insurance will not cover your belongings as it is designed to provide financial protection to the landlord, not the tenants. Instead, you will need renters insurance to get coverage for your personal belongings.

Is renters insurance the same as liability insurance?

Renters insurance is not the same as liability insurance. Renters insurance is a group of coverages that include liability coverage, personal property coverage and additional living expenses coverage.

Is tenant liability insurance different from renters insurance?

Yes, renters insurance is what renters buy and tenant liability insurance is what landlords buy and each works differently. For example, if there was a fire in your unit, your renters insurance would pay toward replacing your things but if you fell because a wobbly stair railway in a common area, then the landlord’s tenant liability policy would cover your medical bills.


  1. American Veterinary Medical Association. “Dog Bite Prevention.” Accessed June 10, 2024.
  2. NerdWallet. “How Much Is Renters Insurance? 2024 Rates.” Accessed June 10, 2024.
  3. National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. “Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Pets?” Accessed June 10, 2024.
  4. Insurance Information Institute. “Understanding Your Insurance Deductible.” Accessed June 11, 2024.
  5. Indian Farm Insurance Bureau. “All You Need To Know About Renters Insurance in Indiana.” Accessed June 11, 2024.
  6. Insurance Information Institute. “Renters Insurance.” Accessed June 10, 2024.

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