Whether you’re looking for a place to lay your head between classes or shopping for the home of your dreams, renting can be a great option for affordable living.
While we at Freshome are all about helping you make the very best of your home, we also want to help you protect what matters most to you. For renters, having insurance is a crucial protective hedge for preserving all of the things you love about your home.
Choosing the right insurance on your own can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve crafted the definitive one-stop guide to finding the very best renters insurance on the market.
After poring over mounds of reviews, customer ratings and speaking with an insurance agent of over 15 years, we found Allstate to be the clear choice for renters insurance. Allstate’s affordability, paired with its unrivaled customer-service ratings and discount offers, set it apart from the crowd.
In our research, much like with home insurance, we found that local and regional options like state Farm Bureaus can often be the best fit, since these companies offer unique insight into the region they cover. However, for this article we chose to focus solely on national companies, available to the majority of Americans.
How We Chose the Best Renters Insurance
We spent more than 50 hours breaking down dozens of reviews and independent ratings to get a grasp on the companies that had the most to offer. We spoke with customers of various firms to get a sense of how large enterprises treat their customers when it comes time to file a claim. Finally, we sat down with an experienced agent to gain insight on the intricacies of purchasing renters insurance, and what to look for in a policy.
Overall, we learned that renters insurance is extremely individualized. Insurance, in effect, is purchasing the peace of mind that your belongings will be protected should tragedy strike.
An important note for any renter to know: Your landlord’s homeowners insurance policy will typically only cover the actual building you live in. This essentially means that everything inside those walls is your responsibility to protect, which is why choosing the very best insurer is a must.
In the end, we came to the conclusion that Allstate is simply the company to beat. While rates will differ greatly depending on your location, Allstate has a record of being among the best in the most important area: customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer is hard to achieve, especially in the insurance business. Time and time again, we found that Allstate treated its customers with respect and fairness during the claims process, and those are elusive traits in a national insurance company.
Find the Best Renters Insurance Rates
Renters insurance rates can vary greatly depending on where you live, so it is important to compare all of your options. To quickly find the best rates in your area, simply enter your ZIP code below. Be sure to compare rates from at least two or three companies in order to find the very best rate for you.
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Other Companies to Consider
Although Allstate ultimately shined the brightest, many outstanding companies were in the running. Here are a few that excelled in specific areas.
The Best Affordable Renters Insurance
Although rates are largely dependent on geographic location, State Farm tends to offer below-average premium rates in the United States. With a huge share of the market, rock-solid financial standing and low premiums, State Farm is a good option for anyone looking to insure their home at a great price.
The Best Flood Insurance
Like home insurance, renters insurance almost never includes coverage for flood damage. While your policy will cover water damage from pipes, you’re going to have to add a separate flood policy to protect your belongings in the event of a flood. If you live in a high-risk area, this is one of the most important insurance policies you can buy.
Like most flood insurers, Nationwide issues its flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. What sets Nationwide apart from other flood insurers is its track record of speedy payouts and helpful agents to assess the flood coverage you need.
The Best Renters Insurance for Military Members
USAA is often considered the gold standard for insurance companies.The company boasts excellent add-on coverage, including identity-theft protection and flood protection, something that’s next to impossible to find elsewhere.
To take advantage, you must be enlisted or have served in the United States military, but if you qualify, it’s hard to find a better option on the national market.
A Full Review of the Best Renters Insurance: Allstate
Whether you’re buying your dream house or renting your first apartment, there’s no place like home — and we believe that’s worth protecting.
In our research, we unequivocally found that Allstate offers the best renters insurance. While the company boasts an excellent financial standing, affordable premiums and excellent discount options, it’s Allstate’s lauded customer service that gave it the edge above the competition.
It’s easy to compare the lowest prices and simply choose the cheapest company, so we decided to put most of our stock in customer service. Everyone hopes they can get through life without ever having to file a claim. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case, and in the frustrating event of filing a claim, the last thing you want to deal with is an obstinate insurance company.
Where Allstate shines is in its dealing with its clients during the claims process. One customer we spoke with had this to say:
“I’ve really never had a bad experience with [Allstate]. The one time I filed [a claim], they were very fair and quick about it, and treated me like a human being … really, that’s all you’re looking for in a situation like that.”
Another area where Allstate proved itself the top dog was discounts and bundling. For example, if you insure your vehicle with Allstate, you can tack on renters insurance for around $4 extra per month.
As with any kind of insurance, we would recommend consulting with a personal agent to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. In general, talking with an agent about your insurance policy can help you avoid financial pitfalls and find one to fit your individual needs. Fortunately, Allstate has one of the largest rosters of agents spread all over the nation.
It’s not all old-school tricks for Allstate, though. Apparently, Allstate not only has you in “good hands,” but apparently in innovative hands as well. While calculating tools are not exclusive to Allstate, the company features a calculating tool on its site called “What’s Your Stuff Worth?” which helps you categorize your belongings and estimate the value.
Taking the tech beyond its online calculator is Allstate’s Digital Locker application for iPhone and Android. This app lets you create an inventory, complete with photos and estimated value, of all the belongings in your home and store it digitally. It keeps records of your insured items, which would make your life immeasurably less stressful if the time ever came to file a claim.
Who It’s Best For, and Who Should Skip It
Allstate is a good fit for anyone with a larger-than-average amount of possessions. If you’re a renter who’s serious about protecting the things you own, Allstate is likely to be your best choice. It’s also an excellent choice for drivers already insured with Allstate, who are looking to save by bundling the two together.
No company will be a perfect fit for everyone, and Allstate is no exception to this. Although it is affordable, it is not the cheapest around. Young adults and college students with fewer valuables may want to shop around for the lowest-priced policy in their area. What made Allstate stand out:
- Unrivaled customer satisfaction
- Affordable rates across the board
- Consistently fair payouts
- Discounts and bundling opportunities
- Top-of-the-line applications and tools
Where State Farm Fell Flat
State Farm was an extremely close second pick and was in the running for best renters insurance during the research process. In the end, it was Allstate’s top-shelf customer service that edged out State Farm. If you already have a relationship with a State Farm agent in your area, it’s worthy of consideration.
Choosing the Best Renters Insurance For You
As with any type of insurance, renters insurance is extremely individualized. Depending on your location, home type, expendable income and a plethora of other variables, your insurance policy will likely not look exactly like that of your neighbor.
While we would advise you to consult with an insurance agent in your area to make sure you’re adequately covered, we want to equip you with the basics.
In all types of insurance, causes of loss are known as perils. For example, if your favorite suit is consumed by a raging fire, the fire is the peril. Typically with renters insurance, your insurer will list the perils covered by your policy, the most basic of which are highlighted below:
- Water damage (not flooding)
- Smoke damage
- Falling objects
We interviewed G.K. Pippin, a North Carolina Farm Bureau insurance agent of over 15 years, and asked him what renters tend to overlook. He said:
“The liability exposure as a tenant to the landlord and possibly their neighbors is in a multiple unit housing. For example, say you’re cooking in your kitchen and you walk away for a second, and you come back to a fire. Without renters coverage, you are responsible for that fire and all the damage it causes.”
Two Types of Value
Here’s a quick rundown of two methods for discerning value in the event of a claim.
Actual Cost Value (ACV)
This pays for items lost in any covered peril, minus the depreciation. Essentially, you’ll get paid the estimated current value of the item, and not what you spent on it. In other words, don’t expect too much for that Beanie Babies collection.
Actual Cost Value typically results in a lower premium, but can be a bit frustrating (and laborious) when filing a claim.
Replacement Cost Value (RCV)
This pays for your belongings at the price it would cost to buy the same item new today. For the renter who has spent years building a one-of-a-kind collection, or who simply has a lot of money invested in their belongings, RCV will give you a much better payout if the time comes to file a claim.
The downside of RCV is that your monthly premiums will undoubtedly go up to compensate. But insurance is all about weighing the risks. Those who don’t want to chance financial ruin in an accident will likely lean toward RCV. When asked what he recommends to his clients, Pippin said:
“I always recommend replacement cost. With the ever-increasing cost of goods, it gives much more benefit to the client.”
Feeling exhausted from all of the insurance talk? No need to worry. Choosing the right renters insurance starts with simply understanding the different types of coverage. With renters insurance, it’s critical to remember that your landlord, no matter how compassionate, will not cover any damage to your personal property that occurs for any reason. For everything in the home, you must take it upon yourself to find a renters insurance policy that covers those bases.
Here’s a quick look at the essential types of coverage your renters insurance policy should include.
Personal Property Coverage
This helps you replace day-to-day items, such as furniture or clothes, that are damaged or lost in any covered perils. Typically, there is some form of monetary limit for what your insurer will cover.
For expensive, easily movable items (e.g. your limited-edition Rolex or 1970 Gibson Les Paul), an additional floater insurance policy may be a smart item to add. This assures that the full value for your items will be returned should catastrophe strike.
In the event that someone is injured to the point of needing medical attention in your home, and you are found liable, this coverage can save you from breaking the bank. It will help pay the medical cost of the injured party and even help cover legal fees should that person take you to court.
Liability coverage can even protect you and your family from financial liability if you cause damage to another person’s property. This coverage is typically worth the front-end investment.
Medical Payments to Others
This helps pay for medical expenses for others injured in your home, regardless of whether you are legally liable. This coverage isn’t always included in renters insurance policies and covers only houseguests, not anyone living at the residence.
Additional Living Expense
What happens if damage done to your home forces you to find a new place to live? With this coverage, your temporary living expenses are covered, ranging from hotel rooms to restaurant bills you wouldn’t normally have. Without this coverage, you might be moving back into Mom and Dad’s spare room.
The Rise of Uninsured Renters
While most homeowners would never think of skipping out on purchasing an insurance policy, studies show that renters aren’t following suit. In 2013, ABC News reported that only 34 percent of renters actually purchased an insurance policy. This is especially surprising considering how affordable renters insurance coverage can be.
One study by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America says that the average monthly cost of renters insurance is only $12 for the standard $30,000 of property coverage and $100,000 of liability coverage. That’s drastically cheaper than even the most affordable home insurance policy, yet a huge percentage go uninsured.
The biggest reason is ignorance of the necessity of renters insurance. Many new renters wrongly believe their landlord’s policy covers their belongings in the house. Others think that they are in a low-risk area for any perils. The biggest lie renters tell themselves is that they don’t own anything worth insuring.
While no one will force you to safeguard your belongings, every savvy renter should at least look into a policy. It’s much cheaper to insure it on the front end, than to lose it all on the back end. When we asked Pippin for his best piece of advice to someone deciding whether or not to purchase renters insurance, he said:
“I would recommend they check it out for themselves. [People] would be surprised at how affordable coverage can be.”
What makes a great renters insurance company:
- A+ customer service
- Fair claims payment
- Reasonable premiums
- Unique discount offers
Whether you’re renting a house or hopping from apartment to apartment to find the perfect fit, your home is your sanctuary. It’s where you live and thrive, and we love helping you make it the best it can be.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all choice for insurance, we believe that Allstate is the best overall choice to shield your home and your wallet. Given how regionalized and individualized renters insurance is, we encourage you to speak with local agents and educate yourself on the specific insurance needs of a home in your area.
Interview: G.K. Pippin, North Carolina Farm Bureau insurance agent
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“How to Compare Renters Insurance Coverage,” Allstate, January 2013
“What Does Renters Insurance Cover?” Allstate, January 2013
“How to Choose the Best Renters Insurance,” Lifehacker, February 2014
“Types of Damage and Loss Usually Covered by Renters Insurance,” Homesite, January 2015
“What is Renter’s Insurance and Why You Need It,” Free From Broke, September 2013
“4 Common Myths About Renters Insurance,” US News, September 2013
“Learn Renters Insurance 101,” Trusted Choice
“Everything You Need to Know About Renters Insurance,” Time, October 2015
“Rents are Exploding in These 25 Areas,” Time, October 2015