Renting an apartment or a home in Boston is a great way to live in the city without the hefty price tag that comes with buying a property to call home. While insuring the building itself is your landlord’s responsibility, it’s up to you to take steps to protect the investment you’ve made in your possessions. If you rent in Massachusetts, renters insurance is an affordable and practical step with many benefits in addition to safeguarding your belongings.
What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance is a policy or group of coverages that protect tenants from financial losses related to events or accidents at a property they rent. It covers losses due to disasters, theft, and fire and provides liability protection for injuries sustained on the premises. Renters insurance provides coverage to replace or repair personal possessions and pay for additional living expenses if damage to the rental unit forces the tenant to relocate.
What renters insurance covers for tenants in Boston
Protection for your possessions: As a tenant in an apartment, a townhome, or a single-family home, your belongings could easily be worth thousands of dollars when you add furniture, clothing, and electronics. A renters insurance policy protects your belongings from losses caused by theft, vandalism, lightning, fire, windstorm, hail, and frozen pipes.
Protection from personal liability: Your landlord’s liability coverage on the building does not protect the individual tenant's liability. Your renters insurance policy pays any legal obligations. It also covers you if you or another person covered by your policy accidentally injures someone or damages a visitor’s property. If someone is injured in your home – a friend, a neighbor, or even a food delivery person, for example – they could bring a lawsuit against you.
Additional living expenses: If you experience a covered loss, such as a fire that renders your rental uninhabitable, the “loss of use” coverage in your renters’ policy may cover a hotel stay, meals, and other related expenses while repairs are made to your unit.
What additional coverage and protection options are available with renters insurance for tenants in Boston?
In addition to the standard coverage provided by renters insurance, tenants can add additional coverage to their policy, depending on their needs and the policy options offered by their insurance company.
Optional coverage for other insurable situations includes:
Sewage or drain backup: This protects tenants from property damage due to a water backup from a sump pump, sewer, or drain.
Identity fraud: This covers the cost it takes to restore a tenant's identity.
Replacement costs: This covers replacing personal property damaged by a covered catastrophe. This is useful in an area with extreme weather events, such as earthquakes and floods, which are not often covered by standard renters insurance.
Personal property coverage covers most items a tenant owns but may not cover everything you own. Certain belongings, such as art, jewelry, high-end sports gear, or a rare collection of coins or other valuable items, may not be covered up to their full value under a standard renters insurance policy. You'll want to add additional coverage if you own high-value specialty items like this.
What renters insurance doesn’t cover for tenants in Boston
Standard exclusions in renters insurance policies include:
Damage or loss caused by normal wear and tear: If your personal belongings are destroyed or damaged due to normal wear and tear, such as the gradual deterioration of an item over time, your renters insurance policy will not cover the loss.
Damage or loss caused by certain natural disasters: Renters insurance policies do not typically cover losses or damage caused by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, or sinkholes. You may need to purchase a separate policy or endorsement to cover these losses.
Damage or loss to the rental property: Renters insurance policies typically only cover damage to your personal belongings, not the rental property itself. If the rental unit is damaged or destroyed, it is the landlord's responsibility to repair or replace it.
Damage or theft of roommate’s possessions: As a good roommate, you want to respect your roommate’s possessions and not cause damage or destroy them. Unfortunately, if you accidentally break your roommate’s possessions, they are not covered unless your roommate is listed on your policy or has their own renters insurance policy.
Is renters insurance required in Boston?
Tenants in Boston or anywhere in Massachusetts are not required by law to purchase renters insurance. Nevertheless, landlords and property management companies can require it as a condition of the rental agreement. Even if your landlord does not require you to carry renters insurance, purchasing it is still a good idea to protect yourself and your belongings from potential losses or legal action. If you are a Boston tenant and unsure whether you are required to have rental insurance, review your rental agreement or contact your landlord or property management company.
What happens without renters insurance?
Without renters insurance, you will not have coverage for:
- Legal expenses or damages if you are sued
- Loss or damage to your personal belongings
- Additional living expenses if you need to temporarily move out of your rental unit due to a covered loss
If your personal belongings are damaged, destroyed, or stolen, you must pay for the repairs or replacements out of your pocket. If you are sued for accidentally injuring someone or damaging their property, you will pay for any legal fees and damages if their suit is successful. If you need to move out of your rental unit due to a covered loss, you will have to pay for temporary housing and other expenses. With renters insurance offered at affordable rates, it’s well worth the cost to cover yourself and your possessions and avoid the risk.
Average cost of renters insurance in Boston
According to mass.gov, the average cost of renters insurance in Boston runs between $15 and $30 per month. The location and size of your rental unit and the total value of your possessions will determine your actual cost. Other factors affecting your cost include how much coverage you choose for personal liability and medical bills, your deductible, and any extra coverage you select.
A basic renters insurance policy has a deductible of $500 for $20,000 in personal property coverage, additional living expenses, and $100,000 in personal liability coverage.
Why might a landlord in Boston require renters insurance?
The City of Boston advises landlords and property managers in Boston to require tenants to carry renters insurance, but they are not legally required to do so. Tenant’s belongings are not covered under a landlord's building insurance, so a renters insurance policy gives landlords peace of mind knowing that their tenants are protected from potential damages or losses due to fire, theft, vandalism, and other disasters.
Renters insurance also provides liability coverage if a tenant is found responsible for an accident on the rental property. In addition, it can help cover any costs associated with relocation until repairs are complete following a disaster.
Renters insurance in Boston is a wise investment for tenants as it provides financial protection from unexpected events such as theft, fire, and other disasters. It also covers personal property and liability, which can be invaluable if an accident occurs on the rental property. Plus, renters insurance provides peace of mind for tenants, as they know any losses will be covered in an emergency or disaster.
How should landlords notify tenants about requirements for renters insurance?
Landlords should inform prospective tenants about renters insurance requirements at the time of application. In addition, landlords should include contact information for their preferred insurer in case tenants have questions about the process.
Landlords should notify current tenants through written communication, such as a letter or email stating when and how much coverage is necessary. This communication should explain the importance of renters insurance, outline the available coverage, and provide information on obtaining a policy and any available discounts.
It’s in landlords' best interest to remind tenants that they are ultimately responsible for obtaining and maintaining adequate coverage.
Get renters insurance through RentSpree
RentSpree has partnered with Sure, a rental insurance provider, to bring landlords and tenants a streamlined process for buying renters insurance. Through the RentSpree platform, tenants can purchase coverage and provide proof of insurance to the landlord in one step. RentSpree allows landlords to quickly and easily ask tenants to purchase renters insurance during the application process and receive digital proof of insurance after purchase. The easy-to-use tenant dashboard provides updated coverage information and renewal reminders. Get renters insurance through RentSpree today.