If you rent an apartment or house, you need renters insurance.

Published March 21, 2017

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Sylvia Group Account Executive

Early this past Christmas morning, fire swept through an apartment building in Boston's North End. Because the building's tenants were spending the holiday away with family, none of them were injured, but the building and its contents were a total loss, the cost estimated at more than $4 million. The landlord had property coverage, but at least some of the tenants did not have renters insurance. And, as those tenants soon learned, the landlord's property insurance covered only the building — not the renters' possessions. 

Friends of the displaced tenants rallied with GoFundMe sites, but, generous as the donations were, they didn't cover the full amount of the loss. Payment for new clothes, electronics, furniture, appliances and other possessions came largely out of the renters' pockets.

Renters insurance would have paid for most, if not all, of their lost possessions. For about $100 in annual premium, the tenants could have purchased a policy covering $15,000 in personal property and $500,000 in liability. That, anyone who lived in that now-demolished North End building would agree, would have been a good investment.

Requirement and responsibility

Some landlords require tenants to purchase renters insurance, primarily to protect the owner against potential lawsuits. In fact, Sylvia Group advises landlords to do just that. (If you're a landlord, here are 5 Reasons Why You Should Require Renters Insurance in the Lease.) 

But many landlords do not require renters insurance, and because many renters wrongly assume that their personal belongings are covered under the owners' policy, tenants frequently are unnecessarily vulnerable to loss. 

If fire, water, or vandalism damages the home or apartment you rent, your personal belongings are not covered by your landlord’s policy. For coverage of your own possessions, you need renters insurance.

What renters insurance covers

Renters insurance provides many of the benefits of homeowners insurance, including coverage of possessions and liability. It also extends beyond your home or apartment when you're traveling, covering property that is stolen from your car or hotel room, as well as possessions lost or damaged anywhere else.

So, what's covered? 

  Covered possessions ...

          ... for loss caused by

  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Clothes
  • Jewelry (limited coverage)
  • Fire or smoke
  • Windstorm
  • Lightning
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Water (except flood)

In addition, your policy may provide for reimbursement for living expenses if your rental home becomes uninhabitable.

How much you receive to cover the cost of replacing lost or irreparably damaged possessions depends on whether your policy is for replacement cost value (RCV) or actual cash value (ACV), which is based on purchase price minus depreciation. At Sylvia Group, we offer only coverage that insures property for replacement cost value. RCV costs slighthly more than ACV, but the value it provides is much greater, enabling you to replace past purchases at current prices.

Renters insurance also covers personal liability:

  • in a lawsuit resulting from property damage or bodily injury
  • for paid medical expenses incurred by injured guests.

Additional coverage and discounts

Because standard renters insurance doesn't provide full coverage for some possessions, additional insurance is available to protect valuable items such as jewelry, fine art, cameras, silverware, home computers, musical instruments and firearms.

Meanwhile, some companies offer the opportunity to save on renters insurance by bundling it with an auto policy. An independent insurance agent can work with multiple companies to find the coverage, price and program that are best for you.

Even with a discount, renters insurance may seem like yet another unwanted expense to manage right now, but it could save you a good deal of anguish and great deal of money down the road. While it may be one purchase you hope you'll never use, simply achieving the peace of mind that comes from protecting what you own will make renters insurance well worth the relatively modest price. 


About Gorete Cadieux and Sylvia GroupGorete_2009_cropped.jpg

With more than three decades of experience serving the personal insurance needs of Sylvia Group clients, Gorete Cadieux works with multiple companies to find the best available coverage at a price that makes the most sense for your budget. She takes a consultative approach to working with clients, enabling them to make informed, educated decisions about their insurance policies. Gorete also specializes in coastal insurance, helping homeowners with the challenges of protecting property along Massachusetts' SouthCoast and other waterfront areas.

Sylvia Group helps businesses and individuals protect their future by designing insurance, benefits and financial planning programs. We’re a third-generation, locally owned agency known for our commitment to our clients and our community, as well for our industry expertise. Founded in New Bedford, MA, in 1950, headquartered in neighboring Dartmouth, and serving businesses and individuals throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island and beyond, Sylvia Group is certified as a Woman Owned Business Enterprise with the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office and has the distinction of being the first six-time recipient of the Five Star designation awarded by the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA) for all-around agency excellence. 

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  • “When I needed assistance with my business insurance program, Jill White immediately responded – and, even more important, she listened. She understood the challenges I had with my former agent, and she and the Sylvia Group team designed a program specific to my restaurant’s needs. I’m confident that with Jill’s expertise and personal attention, Fay’s is in good hands. That gives me the peace of mind to focus on what my family and I do best: serve delicious food and provide great customer service while running a successful business.”

    – Evelyn Bettencourt, Owner, Fay's Restaurant and Knotty Pine Fine New England Catering

  • “Thanks to John Beauregard and the professionals at Sylvia Group, our MassMEDIC membership has paid immediate dividends. Through the BIO Business Solutions® program, Primo Medical received a significant premium reduction on our Professional Liability policy. In addition, utilizing Chubb as our insurance provider and Sylvia Group as our broker, we’re confident that we have business partners who truly understand our insurance needs, provide outstanding loss control services and continue to work with us to lower our total cost of risk.”

    – Christopher LaPlante, Chief Financial Officer, Primo Medical Group

  • “I just wanted to take the time to recognize what a remarkable job Danielle Andre is doing. I cannot thank her enough for her time, her kindness and her willingness to make sure I’m comfortable with all the necessary changes that occurred from an insurance standpoint. As a whole, every Sylvia Group staff member has been friendly and knowledgeable, but Danielle has certainly gone above and beyond for me.”

    – Shannon S., Personal Insurance client

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    – Pat Cassan, Ocean Explorium

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    - Paul C. Abrantes, Executive Director, Advanced Eye Centers

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    – Chris Black, Personal Insurance client

  • “Working with Sylvia Group over recent years has taken our insurance issues from 'groans and moans' to 'no problem.' Rose Lopes, our Account Manager, is one of the most responsive people I have ever worked with. She responds immediately to questions or special requests. It is such a pleasure to work with Rose, who does whatever it takes to find a solution to our needs. We are very pleased… She always has our interests in mind.”

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  • "Sylvia Group is by far the best insurance agency I have ever dealt with, both personally and in my business. They provide customer support that is not found in other agencies. For example, they take a personal interest in their clients, calls are always taken or returned immediately, and during reviews suggestions are made to offer the most cost effective and comprehensive coverage. When claims occur, they have always been there to facilitate the process. It has truly been a pleasure to have them represent me in my insurance needs."

    - William N. Whelan, Chairman, Whelan Associates LLC