It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of homes in the Tempe, Arizona area are rented — the most in the surrounding region. With a statistic like this, many people may already be considering purchasing renters insurance. They may not be considering renters liability insurance, or be under the mistaken belief that it is included in a renters insurance policy.

What is Renters Liability Insurance and How Does It Differ from Renters Insurance?

Property managers in Tempe would do well to familiarize themselves with the differences. In a nutshell, renters liability coverage includes loss or damages tenants are personally responsible for under the law. Many people who rent believe that renters insurance, which covers damages to personal property, is enough. Often they may even believe that anything that’s not covered for loss or damages in their renter’s policy is included in their landlord’s insurance. This is often not the case. In many instances, damages that tenants personally incur are not covered by the landlord. In fact, it’s not unusual for many landlords to ask that their tenants acquire liability insurance.

Who Covers What?

Renters insurance typically covers damages to the tenant’s personal property (furniture, electronics and so on) and the costs of replacing the personal property. This kind of coverage typically will include damages or loss resulting from unforeseen events like fire or theft.

The landlord’s insurance covers damages to public buildings and shared areas of the property. It also covers injury costs for tenants who are hurt as a result of the poor conditions of public and shared areas. For example, if the landlord rents units in an apartment complex and there is a swimming pool, the landlord would be responsible for any injuries that occur while at the pool particularly if there were unsafe conditions.

A renter’s liability policy covers injuries sustained by visitors or guests within the confines of a rented property. This includes but is not limited to damages the tenant causes to the property either intentionally or through neglect.

Situations Covered by Renters Liability Insurance

Let’s look at some scenarios where this type of policy might come into play.

Assume a tenant has a guest over for the weekend and in the course of her stay she falls because the tenant left the water running in the bathroom sink and it spilled onto the floor. If the guest is hurt and incurs any medical expenses, the tenant’s insurance would usually cover the resulting medical costs. Many policies include no-fault medical coverage for injuries that happen in the home. Medical bills can be submitted directly to the insurance company.

Suppose a tenant rents a house with a lawn and trees. A severe storm comes along and damages a tree and now the tree has several damaged branches that can fall. If the worst happens and a branch falls and hits someone on the property, the tenant may be found personally liable for the injury and the resultant medical and/or legal fees involved. This is especially true if the property management in Tempe was not informed about the damage to the tree. If a court finds that the tenant was negligent in not informing the property managers, then he is responsible for damages.

Tenants are also likely to be found liable for accidents that are waiting to happen. This kind of scenario involves not notifying the property management company in Tempe about potential dangers. For example, if a roof has a leak and this results in falling tiles, bricks or plaster, the tenant may be found responsible especially if she neglects to mention the need for repairs.

Did you know that drunken guests are the tenant’s responsibility? If someone becomes intoxicated at a social event held in a tenant’s rented home, she is liable for any injuries that occur to guests as well as damages to the rental property. Liability insurance can cover costs resulting from damages, medical costs or, in the worst-case scenario, the death of someone.

Liability insurance can also cover events such as kitchen fires or unforeseen incidents such as when a tenant’s dog tears up a neighbor’s garden.

How Much Renters Liability Insurance Should a Tenant Get?

Liability insurance usually covers both court costs and court awards for damages and injuries. According to the Insurance Information Institute, limits often start at $100,000, and they say that some experts recommend that a renter purchase at the minimum $300,000 in coverage.

Exclusions to Renters Liability Insurance

These exclusions typically include any auto-related injuries incurred. Injuries to the tenant or his family members are also usually excluded.

Shop Around Before Buying

As with any purchase, it pays for a tenant to do a little comparison shopping among different insurance companies before getting renters liability insurance to find the fight fit for her needs and budget. The tenant should ask family members and friends for their recommendations on companies that handle claims efficiently and have representatives who are available to answer questions about claims and deductibles promptly.