You know the drill about both car insurance and health insurance. But when it comes to your apartment’s coverage, you may be wondering, what is renters insurance? Do I really need it? And we get it. If you’re budget-minded, it’s probably not at the top of your to-do list, because it may cost hundreds and hundreds. Or perhaps you think your landlord’s policy will cover your costs if disaster strikes. Well, you may be surprised to learn that these beliefs are not accurate. Here’s what you need to know about renters insurance in NYC to get up to speed.

Brooklyn Rentals on StreetEasy Under $3,000 Article continues below

What Is Renters Insurance?

In a nutshell, renters insurance provides coverage for many incidents relating to your belongings and living space. More on that shortly! But here is your most significant need-to-know. “A lot of people mistakenly think their landlord’s insurance will cover all things related to their apartments, but that’s hardly the case,” said Jeff Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage. “It’s why renters insurance exists.”

Jersey City Rentals Under $3,000 on StreetEasy Article continues below

What Does Renters Insurance Cover?

Understanding renters insurance hinges on knowing the different types of coverage offered. Depending on the policy, you can expect coverage for loss or damage to personal property for various reasons, from fire to theft. But, here’s a pro tip: Coverage can mean different things. Some policies will cover the depreciated cost for stolen or damaged belongings, while other plans, which typically cost more, will cover an item’s replacement cost.

“Also, a standard renters insurance policy covers personal liability,” says Robert Stevenson, an insurance agent at State Farm. “For instance, if a guest falls down the stairs in your duplex, your policy will cover some of the medical bills. Let’s say your in-unit washer leaked into the downstairs apartment. A policy can cover some of the damage.” Another good thing to know: Personal liability coverage may cover your legal expenses if you’re sued over an incident that occurs in the place you’re renting.

But the insurance coverage goodness doesn’t end there. If your rental gets damaged to the point that it’s uninhabitable, your plan may cover a hotel stay. It can also cover your expensive laptop if it gets stolen at that coffee shop you use as an office.

Even better, “Renters insurance is one of the cheapest types of insurance you can get. On a monthly basis, renters insurance typically costs between $5 and $40.Premiums can be as low as $125 a year, which is approximately 35 cents a day!” adds Stevenson.

If you’re wondering what impacts insurance costs, prices for policies depend on the value of your assets, the type of coverage you choose, and the location of your apartment. To learn more about what a policy covers, take a look at its “named perils.” These are covered incidents, usually including theft, vandalism, fire, and water damage.

What is the most popular type of insurance claim? “What we see most often in New York is water damage from broken pipes and overflows that leak into other apartments and where the policyholder is held responsible for the damage,” says Stevenson.

And here’s a huge heads up: Many policies do not cover natural disasters. So if you’re in a high-flood area, you might want to consider getting flood insurance on top of renters insurance. If you want to find out if you live in a high-risk zone, check out FloodHelp NY’s website.

Manhattan Rentals Under $3,000 on StreetEasy Article continues below

How Much Insurance Coverage Do You Need For a Rental?

An insurance agent will work with you to ensure you have the right amount of coverage you need. But it’s still important to figure out what your belongings are worth.

“The coverage will reimburse you for covered damage, loss, or theft of your possessions up to a certain dollar amount, so you’ll want to make sure you get that amount right,” Stevenson said.

To settle on the right dollar amount, you should perform a home inventory. First, you’ll need to list all of your belongings, when you acquired them, and either the purchase price or the current value. After you total these values, you’ll have an estimated number of what your property is worth. You can also add photos of specific items — such as a computer or an expensive piece of jewelry — to the inventory to help with future insurance claims. It’s a wise move to keep both a digital and a hard copy of your inventory list. 

Queens Rentals Under $3,000 on StreetEasy Article continues below

How Do I Find Renters Insurance?

Most major insurance companies offer renters insurance, so if you have a favorite, be sure to reach out to them. Stevenson suggests working directly with an agent. “The agent will walk you through the different processes, including what to do in the event of a claim.”

Schneider suggests renters should also call around to get quotes to compare their options. “You can look online, but it is not the same as talking to an insurance representative. Most agents are happy to chat on the phone, and there’s no charge for it,” he adds.

So what is the bottom line? At the very least, renters insurance can offer peace of mind, making it better to have than not.

Whether you’re looking to rent or to buyfind your next NYC apartment on StreetEasy.