8 surprising things your renter's insurance does not cover

Mimi headsht
By Mimi OConnor  |
August 10, 2018 - 9:00AM

Don't find out the hard way — when it's too late to do anything about it. 


If you've got renter's insurance, you're probably feeling pretty good about yourself, having checked off that significant adulting box. And you should. (In a 2016 Insurance Information Institute Poll, just 41 percent of renters said they have it—and you know at least some of those people are fibbing.) So, congrats. 

However, while renter's insurance—which costs about $135 to $180 a month—will cover you for a wide range of accidents and unfortunate events (for example, theft from your apartment, fire and wind damage, credit card and check forgery) there are numerous instances and situations it will not. Some you can remedy by purchasing additional coverage, others fall distinctly into the unfortunate "that's life" column. 

Below, eight things a basic renter's insurance policy does not cover, and what, if anything, you can do to protect yourself from them if they do. 

Bed bugs

Sad, but true. "This is one that people call up and get very emotional about," says Jeffrey Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (A Brick Undrground sponsor). 

Insect or vermin damage

Carpenter ants damaging the integrity of your floor? Squirrel found its way in and eating the insulation or chewing on some wires? Not covered.

Yes, this is probably more of a homeowner's issue, but it's not covered at all, anywhere. (Bright side? If a fire starts from those exposed wires, that's covered.) The best advice regarding damage by members of the wild animal kingdom: prevention. Do your best to make sure the damage never starts.  


Rising rain, ocean, river or lake waters are all classified as "flood" and that only covered by a separate FEMA policy (or a more costly policy from a private insurer).  

Displacement due to routine maintenance

The elevator in your building is old and needs to be upgraded; you live on the sixth floor. If you're not up for the cardio and elect to decamp to a hotel while the work is being done, that expense is on you. (As opposed to if there was a fire in your apartment and you were displaced.) 


"Some people assume because it's within the contents of their apartment it's covered," says Schneider. Not so. But, it can be, by purchasing additional coverage for a blanket amount (for example, protection up to $5,000) or for a specific item. Expect to pay $10 to $40 per thousand dollars of value per year; the additional cost will vary by exact policy terms and your home address.

Theft of your property outside your home

Another common misconception, perhaps because like jewelry, it is possible to be covered for this—you just have to make sure your policy includes this kind of loss. Surcharges for this coverage range from 10 to 40 percent of your overall rate. So on a policy costing $150, you'd pay an extra $15 to $60. 

Business property or inventory

Don't panic. Yes, your laptop is covered. Things used "in combination" for your work and personal life—your phone, your computer—are covered. However, if you are running a business out of your apartment and have $15,000 worth of recording equipment or a $20,000 printer, that's not covered. "Or, there are severe limits on your coverage," says Schneider. "You really need separate business insurance for that." 

That rental car

Schneider says that people also sometimes think their renter's insurance will cover rental cars from traditional outlets or companies like Zipcar. "Liability on most apartment policies does not cover auto liability," he says. 



Mimi headsht

Mimi OConnor

Contributing Writer

Mimi O’Connor has written about New York City real estate for publications that include Brick Underground, Refinery29, and Thrillist. She is the recipient of two awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for interior design and service journalism. Her writing on New York City, parenting, events, and culture has also appeared in Parents, Red Tricycle, BizBash, and Time Out New York.

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