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Shopping online for renters insurance quotes is easy — answer a few questions, click through a few screens and you’re done. But do you know exactly what you’re buying?
Finding the right renters insurance isn’t just about paying the lowest possible price, but about making sure you’re financially protected in case of disaster or lawsuits. Here’s what you should know about renters insurance quotes before you start shopping.
What is a renters insurance quote?
A renters insurance quote is a personalized estimate of how much your policy will cost. It’s based on factors such as where you live, the value of your personal belongings and whether your home has fire alarms or other security features.
Because each insurance company uses a unique formula to calculate rates, it’s worth shopping around a bit to compare renters insurance quotes and find the lowest price.
» MORE: What is renters insurance, and what does it cover?
How to get renters insurance quotes
You have several options once you’re ready to get a renters insurance quote:
- Shop for quotes online or by phone.
- Speak with a “captive agent” who works for a single company.
- Work with an independent agent or insurance broker who can offer quotes from multiple companies.
No matter which option you choose, aim to get at least three quotes — all with the same coverage limits and deductibles — so you can evaluate which company is offering the best price for your needs. Bear in mind a captive agent can only give you one quote.
Renters insurance quotes online or by phone
Numerous insurers offer online renters insurance quotes. Some allow you to purchase a policy online, while others route you to an agent to finalize the details on the phone before you buy.
Because renters insurance is a relatively simple product compared to other types of insurance, it’s easier to shop for online. However, most companies also let you go through the entire process by phone if you prefer.
Pros and cons of ONLINE renters insurance quotes
Captive insurance agents
Another option when looking for a renters insurance quote is a captive insurance agent who works for a single company such as Allstate, State Farm or Farmers Insurance. Because they work exclusively with one insurer, these agents tend to have in-depth knowledge of that company’s policies.
Although some captive agents are paid a salary, the bulk of their income usually comes from commissions and sales bonuses, which can be an incentive to sell pricier policies. Unlike independent agents, captive agents can’t offer you quotes from multiple insurance companies.
Pros and cons of captive insurance agents
Independent insurance agents and brokers
If you want to talk through your renters insurance options without committing to a single company, consider working with an independent agent or broker.
Both independent agents and brokers work with multiple insurers, so they can cast a wider net when offering quotes. One key difference between them is that agents work on behalf of insurance companies, while brokers work on your behalf. Many agents can “bind” insurance policies, which means they can put coverage in place even before the formal policy is issued; brokers, meanwhile, apply for policies on your behalf.
Both agents and brokers are paid on commission, though brokers may charge additional fees. Before working with an agent or broker, ask what commissions and fees will apply for their services.
Pros and cons of independent insurance agents and brokers
» MORE: Can I share renters insurance with my roommate?
What goes into a renters insurance quote?
Many factors can influence your renters insurance quote, though every insurance company weighs them differently. The most common factors include:
Where you live. You’ll likely have a higher premium if you live in a part of the country prone to hurricanes, wildfires or other natural disasters. Your neighborhood matters, too: Tenants in neighborhoods with higher crime rates usually pay more for renters insurance.
Local fire protection. If your home is located near a fire station or hydrant, you’ll likely pay less for renters insurance than someone in a remote location.
Protective features. Does your apartment building have a security guard? Does your home have burglar alarms, sprinklers, smoke detectors or other protective features? These could all earn you discounts on your premium because they reduce the likelihood of fire or theft.
Your credit. Studies have shown a correlation between poor credit and a higher rate of claims, so in most states, people with low credit scores pay more for renters insurance. The exceptions: California, Maryland and Massachusetts, which prohibit insurers from factoring credit history into renters insurance rates.
Your belongings. One of the key factors in any renters insurance quote is how much stuff you would have to replace in a potential disaster. A one-bedroom apartment furnished with a few Ikea pieces will be cheaper to insure than a large rental home filled with antiques and high-tech electronics. Costly items such as jewelry or musical instruments can also raise your rates.
The coverage you choose. Higher liability limits and lower deductibles — the amount you must pay in a claim before your insurer covers the rest — are two factors that could contribute to a more expensive premium.
Your pet. Your dog adds a lot to your household — and may add a little to your renters insurance premium as well. The liability portion of your renters policy usually covers you if your dog bites someone outside your household, but large dogs or certain breeds may incur a slightly higher premium — or not be covered at all.
Your home-based business. If you work from home, you might need to add a rider to your renters policy or purchase a separate commercial policy to cover your office equipment and potential liability for a work-related injury that occurs in your home.
Your previous claims. If you’ve made multiple claims in the past — even if they were with a different company — your insurer may consider you higher-risk and charge you more.
Your other policies. Many insurers offer discounts if you bundle more than one policy with them (such as renters and auto policies).
What information do you need to get a free renters insurance quote?
Before you start shopping for renters insurance quotes online or by phone, you’ll want to have the following information handy:
- Basic personal details (name, date of birth, marital status and Social Security number).
- The rental address and the date you’ll need coverage to begin.
- The approximate value of your personal belongings (use our calculator below to help you estimate this).
- The number of people who live with you.
- Details about your rental, including how close it is to a fire station and whether it has safety features such as deadbolt locks or burglar alarms.
- Information about previous insurance coverage and claims (be honest — the insurer can find out).
Choosing the right coverage for your renters insurance quote
A standard renters insurance policy generally includes three types of coverage. Here’s how much to buy.
Personal property coverage will pay to replace your belongings if they’re stolen or destroyed due to fire, hurricane or other disasters. To choose the right amount of coverage, you’ll need to know the approximate value of your belongings. The calculator below can give you a quick estimate; it’s wise to round up to the next available coverage level to make sure you’ll be fully reimbursed.
Additional living expenses or loss of use coverage will pay out if you need to live elsewhere temporarily while your home is being repaired after a covered claim. This includes the cost of hotels, restaurant meals and other expenses beyond your normal cost of living at home. Loss of use coverage can be figured as a percentage of your personal property limit or a flat amount (normally a few thousand dollars).
Liability insurance pays for things like medical bills for a visitor who trips and falls on your rug, legal expenses if someone sues you and repair costs if your child breaks a neighbor’s window.
Before choosing your liability limit — options typically range from $100,000 to $500,000 — add up the total value of your assets, including vehicles and savings, and make sure you purchase enough liability to cover them.
How much does renters insurance cost?
The average cost of renters insurance is between $15 and $30 per month, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but renters insurance quotes can vary significantly from state to state. Below are the average annual premiums for each U.S. state as of 2017 (the latest year for which data is available):
How to get the cheapest renters insurance quote possible
Shopping around is the best way to make sure you’re paying as little as possible for renters insurance. Even if you find a company you like, it’s worth comparing rates once a year and any time you move to make sure you aren’t missing out on a better deal.
Here are a few more ways to lower your renters insurance premiums:
Raise your deductibles. If you’re willing to pay a bit more out of pocket when you file a claim, your annual premium will go down. (Just make sure you’ll have the deductible amount on hand or accessible.)
Work on your credit. Paying your bills on time and reducing debt can help build your credit — and get a lower renters insurance rate.
Bundle insurance policies. Insure your car and your rental with the same company, and you’ll often get a discount.
Add safety features. Install a burglar alarm or ask your landlord to put a deadbolt on your exterior door. Not only will these features help keep you safe, but they could also save you money on your renters policy.
Drop unnecessary coverage. Periodically review policy documents to make sure your coverage still matches your needs. For example, if you bought extra insurance for a musical instrument you no longer own, you can drop that coverage.
Renters insurance quotes frequently asked questions
What is the average renters insurance quote?
Renters insurance cost an average of $180 a year in 2017, according to the latest available data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. But because so many factors go into your individual renters insurance quote, your premium will be different.
Why is renters insurance so cheap?
Renters insurance is significantly cheaper than homeowners insurance — which costs more than $1,200 a year on average — because the policy only covers the contents of your house or apartment, not the cost of rebuilding the entire structure.
How do I get free renters insurance quotes?
Most insurers offer free renters insurance quotes through their website, on the phone or in person with an agent. You should not have to pay for any insurance quote.
How long does it take to get renters insurance?
It depends on your coverage needs and how you decide to shop. Some insurers can whisk you through an online quote in just a few minutes, but if you have a complicated situation or a lot of questions, you’ll want to invest a bit more time on the phone with an agent.
Does getting a renters insurance quote affect my credit?
Getting renters insurance quotes won’t change your credit score. However, poor credit can increase your renters insurance rates in every state besides California, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Why are my renters insurance quotes so high?
If you own a lot of valuables, have made many claims in the past, have poor credit or live in a high-risk area (such as a coastal state prone to hurricanes or a neighborhood with a lot of crime), your renters insurance quotes may be higher than expected.
Can you get a renters insurance quote before signing a lease?
Yes — and you might have to if your landlord requires proof of insurance. Starting the process before you move in gives you ample time to shop around and find the best deal.