Why get California renters insurance?
California is a great state, but it’s also home to just about every possible variety of natural disaster, from tornados and typhoons to wildfires and mudslides. When you rent, your landlord has insurance for the building, but covering the stuff inside is up to you. There’s a lot to protect, too – the average renter has $20k in stuff in their apartment. The good news? California renters insurance is extremely affordable, with policies starting around just $8 a month. Most people will pay less than $15, which is hard to beat, value-wise. You can cover your possessions for less than you spend on a night at the movies.
What does renters insurance cover in California?
More than just your stuff. Renters insurance has four main parts, listed below.
Personal property coverage protects the things you own, up to the coverage limit you choose, along with some category limits. With Quilt, California residents can buy anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 of personal property coverage online in minutes. Covered items include…
- Electronics (like TVs, tablets, and XBoxes)
- Jewelry and collectibles
- Musical instruments
- Sports and camping equipment
- Other odds and ends
There are some special category and item limits, so make sure you get enough coverage for your needs. That’s especially true if you have one or two really valuable items, like an engagement ring or expensive watch. Let us know and we can add extra protection for those items with an endorsement.
Loss of use
If a covered peril makes your apartment uninhabitable, renters insurance will help pay for a place to stay while repairs are made, up to 40% of your personal property coverage. For example, if you have $20,000 of property coverage, renters insurance would cover up to $8,000 of hotel bills while you can’t stay in your place.
Personal liability coverage protects you from lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage. To give an example, if someone trips in your apartment and breaks their ankle, this will help pay for legal defense and judgments. The standard California renters policy comes with $100,000 of personal liability protection, but higher limits are available. Generally, the more you own or the more you earn, the more liability insurance you need.
Related to liability, medical payments coverage will pay up to $1,000 in medical bills of someone who’s injured on your property. It’s important to know it won’t pay for medical bills for you or anyone who lives with you, since that’s what health insurance is for.
What you're protected from
In the insurance world, a peril is anything that causes a loss, like tornados, fires, and theft. Which perils are covered and which aren’t depends on your insurer and the policy you choose, so it’s extremely important to look at more than just the cost when you’re buying renters insurance. When it comes to insurance, price and value are very different things. California renters insurance policies sold through Quilt come standard with coverage for the following perils:
- Fire, smoke, and lightning
- Windstorm (including tornados and hurricanes) and hail
- Theft, vandalism, and riots
- Aircrafts, vehicles, and falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge/overflow of water (like burst pipes and overflowing tubs)
- Sudden and accidental electrical current discharge
- Volcanic eruption
What's not covered?
Renters insurance covers a lot of things, but it doesn’t cover everything. Earth movement, like earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes aren’t covered, but if an earthquake causes a fire or explosion, it would be. You can add coverage for earth movement to your policy with an endorsement, which is something we strongly recommend for California residents.
Most water damage is also excluded. If a pipe bursts or a fire sprinkler goes off, renters insurance will cover it, but floods, tidal waves, or sewer backups require flood insurance, which is a separate kind of policy. You can check out< this article for more info on why, plus tips on purchasing flood insurance, which is also a good idea – especially if your apartment is in a flood plain.
Power failure is also excluded, depending on the cause. A renters policy covers you and the place you live, not the power grid, so widespread outages aren’t covered. But if the outage is caused by damage to your building, it’s covered. Other notable exclusions include war, government action, and neglect.
California renters insurance discounts
Which discounts are available depends on the company you choose. Quilt’s partner for renters insurance offers the following discounts in California:
- Age (Varies)
- Automatic sprinkler (5-10%)
- Gated community home alert discount (5%)
- Smoke alarm, dead bolt, and fire extinguisher (5%)
- Active central station reporting fire alarm (15%)
- Active central station reporting burglar alarm (15%)
- Maximum discount (15%)
ACV vs. RCV
There are two ways insurance companies use to figure out how much your stuff is worth when they pay a claim. The first is called replacement cost value, or RCV. With RCV, you get the full amount it costs to replace your stuff, minus any deductible. To give an example, if your five-year-old couch is destroyed, you’d get enough to replace it with a new one. The other method is actual cash value, or ACV. With actual cash value, you only get the depreciated value of your items – basically what it’s worth on the open market.
Which kind of policy you choose makes a huge difference, since the things that renters insurance covers tend to be items that depreciate quickly, like clothes, furniture, and electronics. If your policy only provides actual cash value coverage, you could be in big trouble if a disaster or burglary wipes out your apartment. The California policies Quilt sells all come standard with replacement cost value. It costs a little bit more per month, but it’s very, very worth it.
California renters insurance FAQs
Is renters insurance required in California?
California law that doesn’t mandate renters insurance, but many landlords and property management companies require tenants buy a policy before renting an apartment, especially in cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Long Beach, and Oakland. That’s because renters insurance comes with personal liability coverage in addition to covering your stuff, so if someone gets hurt at your place, your policy can help pay for legal defense and judgments.
How much does renters insurance cost in California?
Less than you might think. The exact price depends on where you live, how big your place is, how much stuff you need to cover, and a couple other factors, but most policies are between $10 and $20 a month. Not to brag, but we think that’s a pretty great deal.
What's a deductible?
It’s the amount you need to pay before insurance kicks in. The amount varies depending on where you buy your policy and what you choose. At Quilt, we decided on a standard low deductible of $500 for our renters policies, which is on the low end. You could save a little money by going with a $1,000 deductible, but you’d have to have over $1,000 in damage to file a claim. We think $500 is the right balance of affordability and protection.
Do college students in California need renters insurance?
It really depends on your situation. If you live in on-campus housing and your parents have renters or homeowners insurance, you probably don’t need one of your own. Both kinds of policy provide some coverage to dependents – typically 10% of the total value. So if your family has $40,000 in coverage, your dorm would be covered up to $4,000, which should be enough for most students.
For students living off-campus, the answer really comes down to how valuable the furniture, clothes, and electronics inside the apartment are. A parent’s homeowners or renters insurance won’t necessarily apply, so getting a separate renters policy might be a good idea.
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