What Is Renters Liability Insurance?

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Renters liability insurance provides financial assistance to those whose property or person was damaged or injured due to your negligence. It is not required by law, though many landlords do require tenants to have liability coverage when renting their property. Personal liability covers dog bites, property damage and injuries incurred on the rental property by providing financial support for medical-related expenses for the injured party as well as your legal fees if you are sued. It will not cover business-related accidents, damage/injury caused by you towards another person or accidental damage/injury caused to you. Renters liability insurance is one of the cheapest insurance plans with monthly premiums averaging $15.

If you’re going to rent or you’re thinking about renting, below is an in-depth look at what renters liability insurance can do for you.

How Does Renters Liability Insurance Work?

Renters liability insurance covers you in the event someone is hurt or their belongings are damaged on your property. An example would be you are preparing your home for a party. During the prep process, you’re filling a container with ice water from the refrigerator dispenser so attendees can have something refreshing to drink while talking. While you’re filling the container, you spill some of the water on your tile floor. One of your friends arrives early and offers to help get things ready. In the process, she walks and slips on the water. She ends up hurting her hip and back and also gets a mild concussion. To top it all off, her phone was broken in the process. Your friend would file a claim against your policy and your renters liability insurance would help financially cover your friend's injuries and the replacement or repair of her phone.

In the event your friend decides to take legal action against you, your renters liability insurance will also cover your legal fees.

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How Much Renters Liability Coverage Do I Need?

The amount of renters liability insurance you get is entirely up to you. Policies typically start with a $100,000 limit. However, there are some who suggest purchasing at least $300,000 worth of protection according to the Insurance Information Institute. Luckily, renters insurance is one of the cheaper forms of coverage with premiums being as low as $15 a month. Your premium is calculated using a number of factors that include:

*An actual cash value policy pays the original amount spent for the item minus its depreciated value. A replacement cost policy will pay the item's original value up to the policy's limit.

Renters liability insurance is one of the cheapest insurance plans with monthly premiums averaging $15.

Is Renters Liability Insurance Required?

Renters liability insurance is only required if your landlord stipulates such coverage is necessary as part of your rental agreement. You can get coverage either through a standalone liability policy or a renters insurance policy. The typical renters insurance policy includes liability coverage, personal property and additional living expenses.

What Does Renters Liability Insurance Cover?

Renters liability insurance can help pay for someone’s medical bills or repairs to damaged property if you're responsible for their injuries or property damage. Renters liability coverage can also provide aid for legal expenses if you are sued due to an incident that takes place on your rental property. Your personal liability insurance should cover most claims and lawsuits caused by your negligence. Protection includes:

  • Covered losses away from home - Renters insurance may cover the costs associated with an accident that occurs 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 - Renters insurance typically provides financial protection if you or someone else in your household causes damage to someone else’s property. For example, if your children are playing ball and they accidentally shatter a neighbor’s window, you may be held liable for paying any repairs or replacement costs.
  • Dog bites - Renters insurance can help cover the costs associated with your dog biting another person. 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog every year with treatments for bites potentially being over $30,000. Most dog breeds are covered under your personal liability coverage. However, some are excluded. Breeds excluded often include:
    • Akitas
    • Alaskan Malamutes
    • Chows
    • Great Danes
    • Pit Bulls
    • Rottweilers
    • Siberian Huskies
    • Wolf Hybrids

Renters liability insurance covers you in the event someone is hurt or their belongings are damaged on your property.

Ask your insurance provider about what dog breeds are excluded from your policy. If your dog is excluded, you can purchase additional liability coverage specifically for your pet.

  • Legal fees - Renters insurance might help cover legal costs and lawyer fees if someone sues you over property damage or a bodily injury.
  • Lost wages - Renters insurance may help cover lost wages if someone is injured on your property and it hinders their ability to work.
  • Medical bills to visitors - Renters 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 accidents due to attractive nuisances like swimming pools and trampolines, faulty railings and stairs.

Renters seeking additional liability coverage beyond the limits of their renters insurance policy should look into getting a personal umbrella policy. Umbrella insurance coverage usually begins once the limits of an underlying policy, such as a renters policy, have been reached, helping provide greater liability protection.

What Isn't Covered by Renters Liability Insurance?

Renters liability insurance will not cover everything. Situations not covered by personal liability coverage include:

  • Business claims - Personal liability insurance usually will not cover activities or claims related to your profession if you run a business out of your home.
  • 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.
  • Your own injuries or damages - Personal liability insurance will usually not provide coverage for accidental damages or injuries you cause to yourself or your household members.

Renters insurance can help cover the costs associated with your dog biting someone.

Does My Landlord's Policy Protect Me?

Landlord insurance will typically not cover you as it is designed to provide financial protection to the landlord, not to the tenants. The liability protection of landlord coverage applies to injuries and damage wherein the landlord is found to be at fault.

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Liability Insurance FAQs

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 general liability the same as personal liability?

General liability provides coverage to businesses in the event someone is injured or has damaged property associated with business operations. Personal liability, however, provides protection if someone is hurt or their property is damaged and you are found to be at fault.

Does renters insurance cover dog bites?

Renters liability insurance will cover you if your dog bites someone. However, there will most likely be excluded breeds named on your policy, so check with your provider to make sure your breed of animal is listed.

Key Takeaways

  1. It is not uncommon for landlords to require their tenants to have liability coverage, either through a standalone policy or a renters insurance policy.
  2. Personal liability insurance for renters can cover costs related to accidents caused by dog bites, injuries, damage to someone else’s property, legal fees, lost wages and medical bills for the injured party.
  3. Renters insurance will not cover business-related injuries or damages, car accidents, deliberate injury or damage to yourself or your property or accidental injuries or damages to yourself or your property.

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