Tenants Need Renters Insurance – Protect Yourself and Your Belongings

Author: Attorney Melinda South

When renting their first apartment or house, tenants often don’t  think of renters insurance unless their landlord requires it.  Although the landlord may have insurance, this usually only protects the property owned by the landlord – and not the tenant’s property.

Renters insurance will provide coverage for your personal property as well as liability coverage.[1] You may assume that you don’t own that much, so why bother?  If you take an inventory of what it would cost to replace your personal property, you may be surprised by the total value of what you own.  Television, laptop, and mobile phone replacement escalates the value of your property very quickly, even if your furniture is second hand.  Do you own any appliances?  What about lawn equipment if you are renting a home?  Just replacing the everyday items we use – such as utensils, dishes, linens, etc. – all at one time could be a big expense.  There are two types of personal property coverage:  replacement cost, and actual cash value.  Replacement cost pays what it would cost you to go out and buy a sofa to replace the one you had.  Actual cash value coverage would pay you the depreciated value of that sofa.  Obviously replacement cost is the better coverage to have, but usually it costs more.

Renters insurance also protects a tenant if he or she is legally responsible for an accident that occurs due to his negligence.  For example, if a guest of the tenant fell due to the tenant’s negligence in leaving something that was spilled on the floor, such as grease, then the liability portion of the policy would cover the guest’s injuries and losses, including medical expenses, time missed from work, and pain and suffering.    Even if a tenant is not negligent but a guest falls in his apartment, there is often medical payments coverage which would cover the medical bills only of the guest in your home that was injured.

Protect your personal property as well as yourself with renters insurance.  Contact an agent today to find out what it would cost.  Do it now before it’s too late.  Even after you have obtained renters insurance, you should make an inventory of your possessions in case they should be destroyed.[2] Be prepared!

About the Author: Melinda H. South is an Richmond attorney with the personal injury law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. Melinda works as a legal researcher and assists in the preparation of firm briefs and legal memoranda. Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen attorneys have experience in handling premises liability cases in Virginia.


[1] For more information, see the Virginia State Corporation Commission Bureau of Insurance pamphlet “Renters Insurance: Consumer Guide”, available online at http://www.scc.virginia.gov/division/boi/webpages/inspagedocs/varenterspamphlet02.pdf.

[2] For a form you can use to make a household inventory, see http://www.scc.virginia.gov/division/boi/webpages/inspagedocs/homeownerspossessions.pdf.