Do You Have to Have Renters Insurance

(Have to? Probably not. Should have? Probably.)

Table of Contents

Do you have to have renters insurance?
Are there any states in which a landlord can't require you to have renters insurance?
Why might you want to have to have renters insurance if it isn't legally required?

Do you have to have renters insurance?

I've been renting for a while, and at my previous apartments I've never had to purchase a renters insurance policy. Now that I'm thinking about moving, I've noticed that a lot of buildings require that you purchase renters insurance as part of the lease, but others don't. Do I have to have renters insurance or is it optional?

Before we get too far into this question, it's important to note that renters insurance isn't legally required in any state. However, landlords may require that you purchase a renters insurance policy as part of your lease (at least in almost every state they can, but more on that below).

That being said, if there isn't a contractual provision in your lease that you have to have renters insurance, you don't have to have it. This is the only instance where you're actually required to have it. 

Otherwise, it's up to your discretion whether you want to pay for a policy. However, it's generally beneficial to purchase renters insurance for peace of mind should your personal property get damaged or you're found liable for injuries or personal property damage to another person. 

Talk to your independent agent to discuss the benefits of a renters insurance policy, if it's optional, and your various options if you're required to have one under your rental agreement.

Are there any states in which a landlord can't require you to have renters insurance?

Oklahoma is the only state in which a landlord can't require that you purchase renters insurance. Oklahoma's decision is based on something called the Sutton Rule. 

That rule provides that a tenant is co-insured under a landlord's policy. Thus, Oklahoma's housing laws provide that a landlord cannot require renters insurance to avoid potentially duplicative coverage.

It's important to note that Oklahoma is the only state to take this stand, so if you live in another state and your landlord requires renters insurance, you'll have to comply. 

If you're unsure how much coverage you need or which renters insurance policy is best suited to your needs, talk to your independent insurance agent.

Why you might want to have renters insurance if it isn't legally required?

This is the most frequently asked question once someone finds out they aren't required — either legally or contractually — to purchase renters insurance. 

The main reason you should always purchase renters insurance is that without it, you're vulnerable to paying full replacement value for any damage or loss to your personal property. 

Moreover, you'll have no liability coverage if someone is injured on your property or if you cause damage or destruction to someone else's personal property, even if you're not at home. 

That being said, here are some other reasons why you might want to have a renters insurance policy:

  • It's inexpensive: I'll get into this in more detail below, but a renters insurance policy typically costs less than $200 a year. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.
  • It provides protection outside of your home: Another clear benefit to renters insurance is that it covers your personal property outside of your home. For example, if there's a covered loss to your personal property while you're traveling (i.e., electronic theft), renters insurance will help pay for the replacement. The coverage limit is lower when the property isn't at your home, but it's still money that will help replace your property.
  • It does more than just replace property: Renters insurance is great because it protects personal property and potential liabilities, and it does more. If there's a fire in your rental unit and you have to stay in a hotel, renters insurance will help cover the cost. This is just an added perk of paying for a policy.

If you're still unsure whether you want to purchase a renters insurance policy, discuss the pros and cons with your independent insurance agent.


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