Seattle is the largest city in Washington and has some of the best-rated neighborhoods for family life, schools, and activities. However, as a renter, you can’t be too careful with your belongings, as most neighborhoods rank a C+ for crime, though some areas are great, with no crime. Seattle has a prohibitive cost of living. According to niche.com, the average monthly rental cost for an apartment is $1,702. In contrast, renters insurance in Seattle is so affordable it’s cheaper than a ticket to visit the Space Needle.
What is renters insurance?
Renters insurance, also called tenant insurance, offers coverage similar to homeowners insurance. It's for renters who rent a house, apartment, condominium, or duplex. The property owner or landlord buys insurance to protect the building, protect against legal liability, and cover loss of rent. Still, their insurance does not cover a tenant's belongings or personal liability. Only a renters insurance policy can do that.
For tenants, renters insurance is a low-cost way to protect their property from damage or theft and help protect their guests if their items are damaged or if they are injured. It also protects tenants if the rental becomes uninhabitable.
What renters insurance covers for tenants in Seattle
As a renter, renters insurance can give you peace of mind knowing that your possessions are covered in an unexpected event. Renters insurance is an inexpensive way to safeguard yourself and your personal property against theft, storms, break-ins, and guests getting injured.
Renters insurance provides coverage and protection for tenants, including:
- Additional living expenses—If the property is damaged and uninhabitable, renters insurance helps pay for food, hotel bills, and other costs incurred if the tenant must live elsewhere while the unit is repaired.
- Personal liability—This covers a tenant for court costs if the renter is sued for damages to the rental property. It also covers the costs if a guest’s personal property is damaged or they get injured and have medical bills. Renters insurance helps pay these legal fees and settlements up to a predetermined limit chosen by the renter.
- Personal possessions—The cost to repair or replace the renter’s belongings, such as furniture, electronics, and clothing, if damaged or stolen, is covered (within policy limits). Renters insurance also covers unexpected events like vandalism, theft, fire, plumbing failure, electrical issues, or storms.
Renters can also get optional coverage for other insurable situations, including:
Identity fraud—To cover the cost and time it takes to restore a tenant's identity.
Sewage or drain backup—This covers property damage due to water backup from a sump pump, sewer, or drain.
Replacement costs—To cover personal property damaged by a covered catastrophe. This is useful in areas with extreme weather events, like earthquakes and floods, that are not often covered by renters insurance.
What renters insurance doesn’t cover for tenants in Seattle
The building itself is not covered by renters insurance; instead, it’s protected by a landlord’s property insurance policy, which covers damages, including those caused by weather.
Renters insurance also does not cover a renter's belongings in the case of a flood, earthquake, landslide, sinkhole, or other severe weather events. Nor does it cover damage due to pet neglect or pest infestation (including bed bugs). The belongings of a tenant's roommate aren’t covered unless the roommate is listed on the policy or has their own policy.
Tenants must remember that renters insurance will not cover claims for amounts above their limits. If you have a lot of belongings or high-dollar items, it’s best to do a complete inventory of your possessions, so you can purchase the right amount of coverage to protect you in case of loss.
Is renters insurance required in Seattle?
Washington law doesn't require tenants to carry insurance policies in Seattle, but landlords are allowed to require it as part of a lease agreement. Renters insurance can help eliminate potential disputes regarding damaged property and liability in legal claims, as tenants know they are only covered if they have renters insurance.
What happens without renters insurance?
If tenants do not have an active policy, they could suffer a significant monetary loss if theft or damage occurs. A fire could wipe out everything they own. If items are stolen, they would have no recourse but to purchase them again if they can afford them.
A good renters insurance policy allows tenants to seek assistance from their insurance company while they recover from the insurable event. Tenants can ensure enough coverage by taking an inventory of their belongings and giving them a dollar value. With a set value in mind, tenants know whether or not the cost of renters insurance will cover their belongings or if they need to increase the limits.
Average cost of renters insurance in Seattle
Even though the cost of living in Seattle is relatively high compared with the rest of the U.S., renters insurance has remained affordable. The annual average premium is $118 or $10 monthly, which is 26% less than the national average. This gives the renter a $500 deductible in the case of an insurable event, with $20,000 in personal property coverage and $100,000 in personal liability coverage.
There are a few other factors that may increase those baseline rates, including the risk of severe weather, how much coverage you want, and where you live. You may have a higher premium if you live in a riskier neighborhood for crime in Seattle or if you own high-dollar items or a lot of expensive items.
Why a landlord in Seattle might require renters insurance
Renters insurance protects renters from loss if a fire, disaster, or break-in happens during their tenancy. A landlord may require tenants to purchase renters insurance because the standard property insurance policy only covers the building itself. It does not cover a renter’s belongings.
Landlords know that without a renters insurance policy, tenants may try to hold the landlord responsible for loss or damages if there is an insurable event.
How should landlords notify tenants about getting renters insurance?
Requiring renters insurance can be as simple as making it part of your criteria to qualify for your rental properties. Landlords can let tenants know that just like a security deposit and monthly rent, they will be expected to purchase renters insurance and provide proof of coverage.
If a tenant moved in before a landlord started requiring renters insurance, a landlord could inform the tenant that they will be required to purchase insurance to renew the lease. A landlord can ask for proof of coverage as part of the lease renewal process.
How RentSpree helps facilitate renters insurance coverage
RentSpree has partnered with Sure 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.
Invite tenants to purchase renters insurance with RentSpree
With RentSpree, landlords can quickly 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.