37% of people in Massachusetts are renters, which is slightly higher than the national average of 36%, according to PEW Research, and many of them are tenants in multi-family buildings. When you live in an immediate community with other families and individuals, you may face extra challenges to the safety of your home and belongings. There is a higher threat of vandalism, fire, water damage, and theft, most of which are out of your control.
When you’ve invested in items for your home and other personal belongings, it’s wise to shield yourself from potential loss. Buying renters insurance while renting in Massachusetts can help.
What is renters insurance?
While 95% of Massachusetts homeowners have homeowners insurance, only 41% of renters in the state have renters insurance, Renters insurance covers personal property in case of damage and protects renters from legal liability if they are responsible for a guest’s injuries or property damage. It also reimburses some of the cost of alternative living arrangements if the rental unit becomes inhabitable.
What does renters insurance cover for tenants?
Renters insurance in Massachusetts provides coverage and protection for tenants’:
Personal possessions: The cost to replace or repair or replace a tenant’s stolen or damaged belongings, such as electronics, clothing, and furniture, is covered by renters insurance. Renters insurance also covers damage or loss from events like fire, theft, plumbing leaks, vandalism, electrical issues, or storms.
Personal liability: A renters insurance policy that includes liability coverage will pay for repairs if a tenant accidentally damages the rental property. It helps pay legal fees and settlements if the tenants are found at fault. It also covers a guest’s medical bills if someone visiting is injured or bitten by a dog, their personal property is damaged, and the renter is successfully sued.
Additional living expenses: If the property is damaged and uninhabitable, renters insurance helps pay for food, hotel bills, and other costs to live somewhere else temporarily until the unit is repaired.
Tenants can add optional coverages to their basic renters insurance policy:
Identity fraud: covers the costs to restore a tenant’s credit and identity.
Replacement costs: this coverage insures personal property damaged by a covered catastrophe, which is helpful in an area at risk of extreme weather events, like hurricanes, blizzards, and floods. Such occurrences are not typically covered by standard renters insurance.
Sewage or drain backup: this option covers property damage caused by a water backup from a drain, sewer, or sump pump.
As a tenant, keep in mind that your landlord’s property insurance only covers losses and damage to the building, structural issues, or problems with the building itself. The landlord’s policy does not cover you or your belongings. To make sure you can recover losses after a damaging event, take a thorough inventory of your property to be sure you have the right coverage to replace or repair your belongings. Be sure to account for the value of rare or hard-to-replace items like antiques, art, or photographs.
What renters insurance doesn’t cover for tenants in Massachusetts
Renters insurance does not cover the building where you live, nor does it cover your belongings in the case of a catastrophic flood, blizzard, hurricane, or another severe weather event.
Renters insurance does not cover your personal belongings if they are destroyed or damaged because of normal wear and tear; your renters insurance policy will not cover that type of loss. And your renters insurance policy does not cover a roommate’s belongings would not be unless they are listed on your policy.
If the structure gets damaged by a pet or pest infestation (including bed bugs), renters insurance does not cover such damage.
If you have numerous belongings or high-dollar items, check your coverage limits to be sure it provides enough protection in case of loss.
What happens if you don’t have renters insurance?
Suppose you do not have an active renters insurance policy. In that case, you could suffer a significant monetary loss if vandalism, theft, fire, or other damaging event occurs and you are forced to purchase replacements.
As a tenant, you are fully responsible for any legal fees and damages if you are successfully sued for accidentally injuring someone or damaging their property. If you need to move out of your rental unit due to a covered loss, you will incur expenses for temporary housing. A good renters insurance policy helps you seek assistance from your insurance company while you recover.
Is renters insurance required in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts renters are not required by law to purchase renters insurance. The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations recommends that landlords require tenants to purchase renters insurance to protect themselves from loss. Most landlords or apartment building property managers require proof of renters insurance as a condition of the lease agreement. If you’re unsure whether you must have renters insurance, look closely at your rental agreement and check with your property management company or landlord.
Even without a specific legal requirement, it is still a good idea to consider purchasing renters insurance to protect yourself and your belongings from potential losses. In 2021, there were 134,975 reported crimes against property in Massachusetts.
Average cost of renters insurance in Massachusetts
Massachusetts renters insurance policies have affordable annual premiums, typically ranging from $180–$360 or $15–$30 monthly. Liability protection usually has coverage limits of $100,000. This provides approximately $20,000 worth of personal property and alternative living coverage after a $500 deductible.
Why a landlord in Massachusetts might require renters insurance
Renters insurance gives landlords peace of mind because they know their tenants are protected from potential damages or losses due to fire, theft, vandalism, and other disasters. It 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.
How landlords should notify tenants about getting renters insurance
The best way to notify a tenant about a rental insurance requirement is to state it upfront during the Massachusetts rental application process. When tenants ask about the costs associated with renting the unit, such as the security deposit, monthly rent, and any other fees, the landlord or property manager should inform them of the renters insurance requirement.
When current tenants renew their lease, their updated rental agreement should include a clause about the requirement to purchase rental insurance. A landlord can send a letter or email ahead of renewal to inform the tenant that they will need to purchase a renters insurance policy when they renew.
By being upfront with potential and current tenants looking to renew, the landlord shows that they are looking out for the tenants and their belongings. Landlords benefit from the assurance that their tenants’ belongings are covered in the case of an insurable event.
Tips for landlords in Massachusetts
For many tenants, renters insurance is a new experience. Landlords can encourage tenants to consider renters insurance and ensure adequate coverage. You can also remind tenants to:
Keep records: Ask your tenants to keep updated records of all items they own and their estimated value. This will make filing a claim much easier if they experience a covered loss event.
Consider additional coverage: Depending on the value of your tenant's belongings, you may want to suggest additional protection, such as flood, hurricane, blizzard, or other catastrophe coverage.
Check their coverage limits: Ask your tenant to ensure their policy’s coverage limits are enough to cover their belongings. If not, they can increase the limits so they won’t pay entirely out of pocket if a damaging event occurs.
Renters insurance is a wise investment for tenants in Massachusetts as it provides financial protection from unexpected events such as vandalism, 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 up to the policy limits in the case of an emergency or disaster.
RentSpree helps facilitate renters insurance coverage
RentSpree has partnered with Sure, a rental insurance provider, to bring landlords and tenants a streamlined process for buying renters insurance in Massachusetts. Tenants can easily purchase coverage through the RentSpree platform and provide proof of insurance to the landlord in one step. Landlords can easily ask tenants to purchase renters insurance as part of the application process and receive digital proof of insurance after purchase. RentSpree’s easy-to-use tenant dashboard provides updated coverage information and renewal reminders. Get Massachusetts renters insurance through RentSpree today.