6 Differences Between Home and Renters Insurance

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Whether you’re renting or buying a home, the process of finding a place to live can be long. You probably don’t want to add something else to your checklist, but you’re not done with the process until you’ve insured your home.

People tend to think one of two things — that renters insurance is a lot like homeowners insurance, or that renters insurance serves no other purpose than to replace personal property like clothes, furniture and electronics if there’s a loss. Those are both true to some degree, as they do share similarities and differences. However, the differences between renters insurance vs. home insurance are significant.

Before you get a renters or homeowners insurance policy, you should know what information is required to get a quote. For both, you’ll be required to give your personal information, including your age, marital status, your employment status and your gender. You’ll also need to give information about the home, including the address, the size and if it has safety features, like an anti-theft system or fire alarms.

In general, a renters insurance policy requires less information upfront than a homeowners policy. For renters insurance, the most important thing you need to know is how much your personal belongings are worth. But for home insurance, you’ll need to provide specific information on how old your home is, the materials it’s built with and recent renovations. You should be able to get most of that information on the property deed.

If you’re in the process of moving, you’re not just moving to a new home — you’re moving to a new type of property insurance policy too. Although both are largely founded upon liability coverage and personal property coverage, you need to do your homework and understand the most important differences between renters insurance and homeowners insurance.

Coverage: What does homeowners vs. renters insurance cover?

When it comes to coverage, there are some similarities between homeowners and renters insurance policies.

Both policies cover:

  • Personal property coverage: This type of coverage protects your personal belongings and the items inside your home, like clothing, furniture, appliances and electronics. 
  • Personal liability coverage: This type of coverage pays for damages you cause to someone else’s property or the medical expenses for someone who gets injured on your property. This includes incidents like dog bites.
  • Medical bills coverage: Medical bills coverage is the portion of your personal liability coverage that would pay for someone’s medical bills if they were injured on your property.
  • Additional living expenses coverage: If your home is destroyed and you can no longer live there, additional living expenses will pay for your hotel and restaurant bills while your home is repaired. 

The main difference between the two types of insurance is that homeowners insurance covers the structure of the home, whereas renters insurance doesn’t. That part of a homeowners insurance policy is called dwelling coverage, and it pays to repair the exterior of your home and any attached structures if it were damaged in a covered peril.

Dwelling coverage is not included in renters insurance policies because renters do not own the building they live in. To protect the structure of a rental property, landlords can purchase landlord insurance that covers the physical structure of the building, similar to dwelling insurance.

What’s excluded from a home insurance and a renters insurance policy? 

Both renters and homeowners insurance will protect your living space from common damages and destructive events. However, these policies don’t offer complete protection. Some of the situations that are not covered by renters or homeowners insurance include:

  • General wear and tear
  • Renovations that aren’t necessary
  • Damage caused by floods or earthquakes
  • Water damage caused by sewer systems or drains

If you live in an area where floods and earthquakes are common, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy and add earthquake endorsements to your policy. Flood insurance is only available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and most insurance providers offer a solution for earthquake coverage.

The biggest downside to getting flood or earthquake coverage is that it can be costly, especially if your existing insurance plan is already expensive. However, it’s a smart investment for most people. Without it, you’ll be stuck paying out-of-pocket for the damages.

How much is renters insurance vs. home insurance? 

When looking at renters insurance vs. homeowners insurance cost, there are some key differences. Because renter’s insurance doesn’t have as much cost attached to the claims made, it’s much more affordable than homeowners insurance. A good renters insurance policy could cost as little as $20 per month.

Here’s a closer look at the average cost of renters insurance vs. home insurance based on data from the Insurance Information Institute:

Homeowners insuranceRenters insurance
Average annual cost$1,211$180

Homeowners insurance is much more expensive, but understandably so because you’re insuring an entire house. Generally, houses are larger than most apartments and townhouses, which also means homeowners often have larger amounts of personal belongings. Additionally, homeowners tend to have more valuable personal property too because they invest in higher value items like furniture that they plan on keeping for years.

If you take a catastrophic homeowner claim and compare it to a catastrophic rental claim, chances are the insurance company will have to pay much more to the homeowner — the exact reason why homeowners insurance premiums are so much more expensive.

What influences my homeowners and renters insurance cost?

Insurance quotes are personalized, and they’re dependent on different factors. Some factors are personal to the renter or homeowner, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Employment status
  • Claims history
  • Credit score 

There are also factors related to your home or apartment that the insurance company considers when calculating your quote, such as:

  • The state you live in
  • The age of your home
  • The size of your home
  • How many units, if it’s an apartment building
  • Materials it’s built with
  • Recent renovations
  • The value of your personal items
  • Your deductible

The state you live in, your credit score, your deductible and your claims history are always going to be the most important factors in determining your rate.

For homeowners insurance, insurance companies will look at the size of your home, how old it is and any recent renovations before giving you a quote. If you’re a renter, you probably won’t have to disclose those details, so they won’t be factored into your quote.

On the other hand, the value of personal belongings is more of a factor for renters insurance than homeowners insurance. A renters insurance policy is designed to cover mostly personal items. Therefore, someone who has $5,000 in belongings is going to have a lower rate than someone with $15,000 in belongings. Homeowners insurance covers much more than just personal items, so that’s less of a priority when calculating a home insurance quote.

How is getting homeowners insurance vs. renters insurance? 

In most cases, getting renters insurance is going to be significantly easier than getting homeowners insurance. To get a renters insurance policy, the main thing you need to know is how much your personal belongings are worth. To get homeowners insurance, much more information is required up front, and some of the information usually has to be validated by the insurance company.

Additionally, there are multiple types of homeowners insurance, so you need to know which type you need. For instance, if you own a condo, you’ll need to get a specific type of policy. The same goes for mobile homes and vacation homes. With renters insurance, there’s one standard plan that is available for all types of renters.

The takeaway

Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, having insurance coverage is important, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Use this as a guide to determine what type of insurance is right for you, what’s covered under your policies and how much you can expect to pay.

If you stick with the basics, there will be no surprises, and you’ll have peace of mind in knowing that your home and your belongings are covered.

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