What is Renters Insurance?

While tenants don’t own the places they lease, they’re still exposed to some potential risks. Their personal belongings could be destroyed or stolen, and they could be individually named in a liability lawsuit. Renters insurance helps protect renters in Massachusetts from certain covered risks like these.

Renters insurance is a coverage that most tenants should have, yet only a small number of renters carry this insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, only 37 percent of tenants are insured with this coverage.

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What Coverages Do Renters Policies Have?

As is true with many insurance policies, the precise coverages that renters policies offer vary. Nonetheless, there are three coverages that most policies make available as standard or optional protections:

  • Personal Property Coverage, which normally protects covered personal belongings
  • Personal Liability Coverage, which normally protects policyholders from covered liability lawsuits
  • Additional Living Expenses Coverage, which normally helps pay for alternative lodging after a covered incident

Unlike single-family homeowners insurance policies, renters policies usually don’t offer structural coverage for the buildings that tenants reside in. Instead, it’s generally the landlord’s responsibility to insure their buildings against perils like wind, lightning and burglaries.

Should a tenant be responsible for damaging the building they live in (e.g. by starting a building-wide fire), the liability coverage in their renters policy might help cover expenses associated with the incident. This is different from claims falling under the domain of property coverage, though. 

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Renters Insurance Massachusetts

What Personal Property Coverage Limits Should Tenants Choose?

Tenants should select a personal property coverage based on the value of their possessions. Tenants who are unsure of how much their possessions are worth should ask an experienced insurance agent for help estimating the possessions’ cumulative value.

In addition to choosing a policy’s total personal property coverage limit, tenants should also check for item-specific limits and the type of personal property coverage.

Many policies will limit coverage for specific types of personal property, such as firearms, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, silverware and other high-value belongings. Tenants who have anything that’s particularly valuable can discuss the available options with their independent insurance agent. Most of the time, coverage can be obtained by selecting a policy without such limits, opting for higher item-specific limits or adding a rider.

Regarding the type of coverage, renters policies come with two main kinds of personal property coverage. Replacement-value coverage usually pays for the full cost of replacing lost or damaged items in a covered claim. Actual-value coverage usually only pays up to the depreciated value of the lost or damaged items, which is frequently less than it costs to replace them.

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What is an HO-4 Policy?

Renters may notice an “HO-4” on their policy’s paperwork or hear their insurance agent refer to their policy by this term. “HO-4” is simply the industry designation for basic renters policies. Most HO-4 policies offer similar protections, although they may be supplemented with other coverages that have their own abbreviations.

Who in Massachusetts Should Have a Renters Policy?

Most people who lease a residential place in Massachusetts should consider protecting their belongings and themselves with a renters policy. This includes state residents who rent their primary residence, as well as:

  • Out-of-state workers who rent a place while working in Massachusetts for a short time
  • Vacationers who rent a seasonal home in the state
  • College students who decide to live off campus
Renters Insurance Massachusetts

How Can Tenants Get Help Finding Renters Insurance?

For help finding a renters insurance policy that’ll give you robust protection against a range of risks, contact the independent agents at Haberman Insurance Group. Our Massachusetts agents can help you determine what protections you want, and then they’ll search multiple insurers’ policies to find you the one that best meets your needs.

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