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Understanding Renters Liability Insurance

Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team

Renters liability coverage is a great way to protect both you and your guests. Learn more details on renters liability coverage with American Family Insurance.

Having renters insurance can help protect you and your savings in so many ways. First off, you’ll have coverage for your personal property if it’s stolen. And, if you cause damage due to a covered loss to the rental, this key insurance can help you cover the costs to repair and restore your landlord’s property.

Another big perk that comes with a renters policy — you’ll have renters liability insurance, as well. It can offer financial protection from covered liability claims or lawsuits that guests or visitors bring against you after they suffer bodily injury in your unit. Better still, it can protect you even if you damage their property off-site. There’s a lot to learn about the ways that your renters insurance liability coverage can protect you, so let’s take a closer look at how it works.

What Does Personal Liability Coverage for Renters Protect Against?

Renters liability can cover you if you accidentally start a fire in your kitchen and cause property damage. It can help cover damage costs and may even pay for additional living expenses, if the damage requires that you and your family live elsewhere while repairs are being made. And if a guest slips on your stairs and breaks their wrist, due to a covered loss, renters coverage can help protect your savings. It’s these types of coverages that make renters insurance so valuable.

Does renters insurance cover bodily injuries and does renters insurance cover your pets? It can, under the right circumstances. To better understand how personal liability coverage operates, take a look these scenarios:

Slip-and-fall coverage

Your renters insurance may help you cover medical expenses if, for instance, someone is hurt in your rental space by falling and spraining an ankle. But you should be aware that the coverage only applies to guests in your rental. It’s personal liability protection that helps cover the costs when someone — other than those in your household — is injured and you’re found liable.

Dog bites

Your renters policy also carries liability protection in the event your dog bites someone. And it can cover you wherever the bite occurs. Again, it’s coverage that extends only to those outside your household. And it can even be applied to veterinary bills that result from a covered event if your dog bites another dog.

Medical expense coverage

Another key benefit of your renters policy is that it can help to cover the costs of medical bills and lawsuit-related expenses, if a guest in your rental is accidentally injured and you’re found liable.

How Much Renters Liability Coverage Is Needed?

Like other products American Family Insurance offers, you can customize your liability policy to fit your coverage needs. If you only need basic coverage, our base renters policy should work well for you. One approach is to ask your agent how much personal liability insurance you need in addition to what’s offered in your renters policy. If you feel more comfortable with a higher liability limit, just let your agent know. 

Does My Landlord’s Insurance Protect Me?

Your landlord’s insurance policy is usually designed to protect the structure of the rental from hazards like extreme weather events or fires. It’s not advisable to look to your landlord’s insurance to cover tenant damage. You may not be covered and that could mean thousands in out-of-pocket expenses.

Consider Itemized Renters Coverage to Protect Valuables

If you’ve got a costly carbon fiber bike or expensive jewelry, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got additional itemized personal property coverage. It’s a great option for your renters policy to help protect everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Why Do You Need Equipment Breakdown Coverage?

Picking up equipment breakdown insurance can be a good idea as well. It’s designed to cover home theater systems, computers and other appliances you own — if a covered loss should render them inoperable.

Be sure to connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) and request a renters insurance quote. You’ll find real peace of mind knowing you’ve got great protection from an insurance company that knows you well.

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    20 Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

    Choosing your new apartment isn’t an impulse decision. The choice you make will have an impact for a long time. There are many different things to consider as you tour one possible home after another. On top of that, landlords and management companies work hard to make them all seem perfect.

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    How Much is Rent & the Security Deposit?

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    What’s the Pet Policy & Is There a Deposit or Fee?

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    Home insurance is for houses. If you live in an apartment, you look for renters insurance instead. In fact, some places make it mandatory for all residents. Be sure to ask your landlord in advance so you can make any arrangements you need.

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    Can You Describe the Application Process?

    Applying for an apartment can be complicated and time-consuming. You might have to pay fees, undergo background checks and other screenings, and more just to see if you qualify. This may be preferable to the alternative: apartment listings that promise no credit check may be scams.

    You could always learn about each step of the application process as you go. Still, it never hurts to know ahead of time, especially if there are any fees and risks. If anything is unclear, the landlord should explain it to you.

    What Should I Know About Rent Increases?

    A variety of factors can change the value of an apartment. Examples include market shifts, new installations, repairs and replacements of fixtures. Your rent will likely not change for the duration of your lease. Once the time comes to sign again, though, your monthly payments may very well go up.

    This may not seem like a pertinent question when starting a lease. Still, making it one of your questions to ask when touring an apartment could be useful. How your potential future landlord approaches the matter can tell you what to expect. At the very least, it can help you choose whether to look for a new place well before your lease ends.

    What are the Lease Length Options?

    How long are you looking to stay at your next apartment? One year, two years, longer, less? Not everyone has a plan in mind, which means the apartment’s available options may give you an idea of what to expect in the future.

    Landlords always inform apartment hunters about the duration of their lease. However, you might need to probe them for other available options. Be sure to make this one of your questions to ask before leasing an apartment, even if they only mention one length that sounds good. They might have something better.

    Can I Make Changes to the Rental Unit?

    Your apartment may come pre-furnished, but it’s unlikely to be pre-decorated. Few people are content with blank walls and sparse spaces. Most prefer to personalize and beautify their home with art, decorations and other belongings.

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    How Do Maintenance Requests Work?

    Besides rent, tenants might only interact with their landlord through maintenance requests. After all, it’s the complex owner’s duty to keep everything in their apartments running smoothly. If your shower stops pumping heated water or your lock gets sticky, maintenance will get it fixed.

    Asking about the process of filing maintenance requests can give insights to how landlords view this responsibility. Does the process seem straightforward or complicated? Are approvals easy, or do they require a great deal of evidence and demonstration? The answers may reveal how long this landlord will let you live with inconvenience. Few questions to ask about apartments are more revealing than this.

    What’s the Guest Policy?

    In most cases, a guest policy doesn’t apply to someone who’s just visiting for a few hours. It covers situations where someone might want to stay at a tenant’s apartment for a few days or longer. Depending on the terms of the policy, you might even need permission for someone to spend the night.

    Don’t just assume that any landlord would be okay with your best friend crashing on your couch for a while. Get the details on the guest policy before moving in. They’ll tell you what permissions they’d grant and how you can get them granted.

    What’s the Neighborhood Like?

    The oldest real estate myth holds that three factors must guide where you choose to live: “location, location, location.” There’s more to it than that, as this list of questions to ask when renting an apartment should make clear. Still, the area around the complex is important to consider.

    Getting info on the neighborhood is valuable to any apartment hunt. Try to get your landlord’s perspective about any areas of concern. We also recommend exploring on your own, both by car and on foot. See if any useful places are close by, such as grocery stores.

    How Soon are You Looking to Fill the Unit?

    In most cases, you won’t be the only person viewing an apartment. Others have likely received a grand tour, and others may be waiting in line to see the place as well. Landlords might be screening you as much as you’re screening them.

    Landlords are also usually interested in starting a new lease as soon as the current one ends. One way to get noticed is to strike quickly: ask when they’d want you to move in. You should still weigh your options, but don’t procrastinate.

    Do I Need a Cosigner?

    People with rental history have a record that landlords can review. If this is your first time paying rent, they won’t know if they can trust you to make payments on time and consistently. Adding a cosigner to the contract can make it easier. Their signature promises that even if you can’t pay rent, someone else can pay for you.

    Many renters with no history may worry about background checks and credit checks. However, there are some landlords who won’t ask for them. While the answer will likely be a yes, it doesn’t hurt to have it on a list of first-time renter questions.

    What Payment Methods are Accepted?

    Rent payments can take a variety of forms. Before you make any assumptions, though, you should double-check what’s allowed. Each place will have its own policies. Some offer more payment method options than others.

    You might be able to set up a regular automatic withdrawal from your bank account. You might have to do it online. The landlord might accept checks or cards (warning: anyone who only takes cash is likely a scammer). There’s only one way to know for sure.

    What Furnishings & Appliances are Included?

    Preparing for the big move is a big task. It’s not just deciding what to take, but also figuring out what you need to get. Each apartment is different: some come fully furnished with appliances, while others only have a bed.

    Asking this question is important because the answer can impact your budget. It can even make or break your apartment options. Ask about beds and bedding, chairs, sofas, tables, kitchen appliances, TV sets and anything else that matters to you in a home.

    How Much Notice Do You Give Before You or a Representative Shows Up at the Property?

    An interesting agreement comes with living in an apartment. It’s your home, and you pay to stay there. But someone else owns it and covers many responsibilities related to it. Technically, they have at least some right to enter at any time for any reason.

    Even so, many building owners respect their tenants by giving them advance notice. Depending on the person and situation, you may have days or hours or minutes to prepare. We recommend asking how much notice they usually give. It could save you some major headaches.

    What’s Your Late Fee Policy?

    Accidents can happen. Paychecks can come late. You might have temporary money problems. Most apartment contracts provide some leeway for late rent payments. But they might charge a late fee.

    Given that it’s so common, there’s no problem with asking about late fee policies. You’ll want to know the terms just in case anything happens. You’ll also want to know the limits according to state law, so you can see if the fee is fair. Just try not to seem too eager, and don’t count on being able to do it often.

    What’s Your Subletting Policy?

    Subletting is when a renter temporarily moves out and lets someone else cover their lease. A landlord may refuse to rent to your candidate if they don’t meet their requirements.

    Even if you don’t plan to leave during your lease, you may still want to know your apartment’s subletting policy. Life may surprise you. Being aware can save you some time and trouble in looking for someone to take over.

    Know the Best Questions to Ask When Renting an Apartment

    Any of these questions to ask when renting an apartment can help decide your future home. Having so many factors to consider may seem intimidating at first. As you gather information, though, you may find that each new detail narrows down the options. Soon enough, a few apartments will rise above the rest. No matter which of them you pick, you benefit. Ask away.

    Renters Insurance from American Family Insurance

    Even while you’re still apartment-hunting, it’s never too early to start thinking about renters insurance. If you have any questions about that, feel free to contact an American Family Insurance agent. Once you’ve learned what we have to offer, you can get a quote online and get protection for your next home.