A Guide to Renters Insurance in NYC

The PropertyClub Team
Nov 11th 2019
So you’ve found the rental of your dreams and are ready to move your belongings and get settled in your new home. But before you get too comfortable, you need to consider getting yourself a renters’ insurance policy, regardless of whether you live on your own or with roommates. Many renters make the mistake of ignoring this advice, and sometimes things go wrong and they end up regretting it. Here’s what you need to know about renters’ insurance in NYC.

Let’s say you’re currently looking for a new place to rent, or you’re already renting space in New York City, either by yourself or with roommates. If you don’t have renters insurance, you might want to consider getting it as soon as possible, especially if you have valuable belongings that you care dearly for. Many renters make the mistake of not getting insured, thinking that their landlord will handle any situations that might arise. However, that’s only partly true, and your landlord will only pay for damages to their own property - your belongings not included. So, here’s what you need to know about renters’ insurance and why it’s important.

PS- We’re also going to give you a few recommendations on where to get this type of insurance in NYC, according to your situation and your budget. 

What is renters insurance, and why do you need it?

Anyone who rents a room, an apartment, or home can purchase renters’ insurance. This type of insurance covers an individual’s personal property, as opposed to a landlord’s insurance, which covers real property, like buildings or land. This is where a lot of renters get confused, thinking that their landlord’s insurance will cover them in case anything happens to their personal items. In reality, the landlord is only responsible for their property. Anything else is the responsibility of the renter. 

The situations in which renters insurance can come in handy are endless, and many of them are quite common. If someone breaks into your place and steals valuable items if a water pipe bursts and you end up flooding your downstairs neighbor if a fire breaks out or there’s wind damage - these are just some of the situations that a renters’ insurance can cover. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for repairs and replace items from your own pocket. 

What does renters insurance cover, and what does it not?

A renters insurance policy covers most of your personal belongings, such as clothing, furniture, appliances, decor objects, or electronics. It usually includes computers and other gadgets, but if you work from home and use company-owned equipment, that might not get covered by renters insurance, and you’ll have to clarify this with your employer. What’s important to note is that items like silverware, jewelry, and other pricier items aren’t usually included in the policy. Still, if you want, you can add them to the list by paying extra. 

Your insurance will cover situations related to break-ins, theft, fires, gas leaks, water damage, explosions, lightning episodes, or wind damage. Accidental or unintentional damage done to other apartments as a result of these situations will also be covered. However, renters’ insurance policies don’t usually cover flooding or earthquake situations. If you live on the ground level and your home gets flooded after heavy rains or storms, you might not be able to turn to your insurance to make repairs. You’ll want to consult with the insurance provider to clarify precisely which situations are excluded and what’s at risk. 

Who benefits from renters insurance policies?

Your renters’ insurance policy can include spouses or family members, as well as pets. However, if you’re renting a place with roommates, keep in mind that you can’t have more than two unrelated beneficiaries on the same policy. That means you can add one roommate to your renters’ insurance policy, but this is not a decision to make lightly. Living with roommates can be tricky, especially if there are more people in the house, and you’re not very close to one another. If you add your roommate to your policy, insurance won’t usually cover a situation where your roommate steals or damages your belongings. The best thing to do would be for each of the renters in the household to get their own renters’ insurance policy. Oh, and also get a roommate agreement while you’re at it. 

Dog owners can also benefit from getting a renters’ insurance policy in New York City. In case your dog scares, scratches, or bites a neighbor or a roommate, your insurance policy will probably cover any legal fees or liability expenses. Some policies will even cover you when you are off the premises, so the biting/scratching episode is covered even if it doesn’t happen inside the home. However, some dog breeds, because they are more aggressive or considered more dangerous, like pit bulls or rottweilers, aren’t covered by such policies. 

How much does renters insurance cost in NYC?

Many people will say that they don’t have enough money to purchase renters’ insurance. However, the average cost of renters insurance in the U.S. is around $16 per month or $187 per year, so it won’t create too much of a dent in your pocket. In New York City, standard coverage for property damage ranges from $25,000 to $50,000, or even higher, depending on your situation and the value of your belongings. Most insurance policies catering to renters come with a $500 minimum deductible, but the higher you go, the more you end up saving on monthly fees. This deductible only applies to property claims, not liability claims, so that’s worth remembering. 

Before you make any decision about fees and deductibles, you absolutely must make an inventory of all your belongings. You might think, "well, I don’t have a lot of stuff, and none of it is that expensive, so what’s the point?" However, when you start adding up the value of each and every item you own, you might be shocked to see just how high the final amount can go. Electronics like TVs, computers, gadgets, speakers, or appliances can round up quite a high tally. Clothing is also a category that many people tend to undervalue, so be sure to include those items in your count. 

If you have trouble figuring the value of each item, take pictures or videos of each room, in detail, and photograph serial numbers on electronics and devices. This information can come in handy in case your things get damaged, and your insurance company will be able to run an estimate of the replacement cost. 

In some cases, you might get a discount on your policy if your home is equipped with fire and smoke alarms, gas detectors, and other protections. You might want to consider installing these safety measures, not only as a means of getting a discount but for your own wellbeing. Roger J. Muller of Muller Insurance insists that you "Make sure you are protecting assets from fire of liability suits brought against you; you need to remember that you’ve worked too hard to lose everything you own just for not having the proper coverage."

What type of renters’ insurance should you get?

Speaking of replacing items, you should know that there are two types of renters’ insurance coverage: actual cash value, in which the insurer will pay to replace your items at their depreciated value, and replacement cost, which means you’ll get the actual cost of your items. The replacement cost coverage can be slightly more expensive, but it’s the best option to go for, especially if you have valuable items that you paid a lot of money for. 

Lewis Hassell, assistant VP of sales & client services at Amica, has some tips for this process: "Customers sometimes look at the age of their belongings or mention that their furniture didn’t cost much because it was passed onto them. In the event of a loss, we explain they should consider a coverage limit based on what it would cost to purchase items new in today’s market. They should also consider the replacement cost endorsement, which can be added to a standard renters policy. Otherwise, depreciation will be factored in."

Where do you get renters insurance in NYC?

There are various renters insurance providers in New York City, so it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which is the right company and the right policy for you. Your best bet is to enlist the help of a reputable company with a long history and a wealth of experience in the business. Your finances and valuables need to be in good hands, and you’ll rest easier knowing that you’re covered in case of an unfortunate event. 

We’re going to make that quest easier for you by recommending a few of the best companies that offer renters insurance policies in NYC. Check them out below, and be sure to get your policy as soon as possible, to stay protected. Happy renting!