13 FAQs About Renters Insurance Damage Coverage

August 1, 2018 12 min read
FAQ Items

Insurance policies contain a lot of “insurance speak” that sometimes isn’t very clear and makes it difficult to really understand what coverage you have for repair or replacement of your damaged contents. Here are some FAQ’s to put those insurance-ese wordings into answers that are easy to understand. Insurance can be complicated. We hope you find this to be simple, easy and clear answers to the questions you may have.

What does renters insurance cover?

  1. Does renters insurance cover water damage?

Renters insurance doesn’t automatically provide flood coverage, although depending on your location and the company you are insured with, you may be able to purchase overland water protection as an endorsement to your policy.  However, some water-related damage is covered such as a water leak that causes damage to your contents.

It used to be that fire damage was by far the highest percentage of claims paid out by insurance companies. But now, water is the new fire. But not all water events are considered an insurance claim. “Sudden and accidental” are words you will always hear from an adjuster when determining coverage by an insurance policy.

Let’s dive into more water-related questions to help break this down a bit more.


  1. Does renters insurance cover water damage from a pipe or appliance?

Let’s say your dishwasher decided it has a mind of its own and blows its seal mid-fill. This wasn’t something you could see coming and it is a sudden event (not a slow leak that tipped you off something was amiss). This, a blown water line to your fridge, a burst pipe….these things are all covered under your renters insurance.


  1. Does renters insurance cover the failure of a sewer backup valve?

As this is likely your landlord’s responsibility, the resulting damage will be repaired by his or her insurance policy. But what about your personal belongings, electronics and furniture? It can become a very grey area if there would be coverage from your landlord’s policy and, even if there is, the limits may be well below the coverage you require. Your renters insurance policy will exclude coverage for sewer backup but for just pennies a day, you can add sewer backup endorsement.


  1. Does renters insurance cover water damage from a toilet?

If you have major damage from an overflowing toilet that cannot be brought under control, your renters insurance policy will cover this.

A key term in insurance is “sudden and accidental”. This term is used in insurance wordings to help sort out the difference between a true insured event and a situation where ongoing maintenance or inappropriate actions cause the problem.

For example, if you have been stuffing baby wipes down your plumbing and you know you have a problem that is becoming increasingly worse, this isn’t an insurance claim because it wouldn’t be deemed sudden or accidental. Aside from being unkind to your plumbing, it’s problematic for our water systems too!

A sewer backup endorsement can add some important coverage that isn’t standard on your policy but can be added for just pennies a day. This ensures your personal belongings and furniture are covered in the event that a drain or pump should fail.


  1. Does renters insurance cover water damage from a washing machine?

Damage caused to your belongs from sudden and accidental discharge of water from a washing machine is covered under your renters insurance policy.  The policy will provide funds for you to replace or repair your damaged property.

As with all claims, one of the deciding factors to determine coverage is that “was it sudden and accidental?” question. If there is a sudden break in a waterline or drain hose connected to your in-suite washing machine, you will have coverage under your renters insurance. So that’s a straight up YES!

But there is some grey area (or grey water area) to consider here. Was there a slow, consistent leak that you noticed a month ago? That’s a maintenance issue and won’t be covered under your insurance. Did water back up through the drain and out of your washing machine? If that’s the case, this would only be covered if you have added a sewer backup endorsement which is available for just pennies a day. As you can tell, there is a fine water line here.

(We should note that insurance doesn’t cover the cost to repair or replace the appliance that failed.  If you own the in-suite washing machine, your insurance won’t cover it’s replacement or repair, just the resulting damage.)

Another way to think of coverage for this is: If its sudden and accidental failure of the appliance or unit, it’s covered. If its a maintenance issue, it is not covered. If its backup of a drain or valve, its covered only if you have purchased sewer backup coverage. Clear as dirty laundry water? If you have questions, you can always contact our team of buyer friendly insurance brokers at info@www.miginsurance.ca to help wade through it!


  1. Does renters insurance cover water damage to a laptop?

Renters insurance will provide coverage to replace or repair your laptop if it is affected by water damage from an incident that was sudden and accidental.

The one thing to consider here is your chosen renters insurance deductible. Some renters choose a higher deductible as it can reduce the cost of your insurance. But when things do go wrong, will you have what it takes to fork out the cash to come up with your deductible?

Let’s say you have chosen a $1000 deductible and the replacement value of your laptop is $1100. It won’t make sense for you to submit a claim for $100 and lose your claims free discount. But if you lost all your electronics in an event that is covered by your policy, imaging the total cost of that!

Have you calculated that out to see what the cost would be to replace all your electronics? Use our Renters Insurance Coverage Calculator to figure out the amount of insurance you need for your electronics, clothing, furniture and more.


  1. Does renters insurance cover water damage from rain?

A burst pipe, an overflowing appliance, a sprinkler system malfunction: these are all covered under a renters insurance policy. But if rain causes water to seep into your apartment, this won’t be covered under a basic policy.

A really good way to look at how your renters insurance will work when it comes to water damage is to think of it as coverage for things that happen from the inside, rather than the outside. There are two important endorsements you can purchase that can help with this.

The first one is sewer backup coverage. For just a few cents a day you can add this endorsement to your policy. Sewer backup is described as water accidentally backing up and flowing into your home from your municipal sewer system, private septic system or because of a sump pump or valve failure.

The second one, which is more complicated, is overland water coverage. Depending on where you are located and which company your insurance policy is with, this coverage can vary. Read more about overland water or contact us at info@www.miginsurance.ca to discover the options available to you.


  1. Does renters insurance cover flood damage?

Renters insurance doesn’t automatically provide the same coverage for flood damage that it does for water damage from overflowing sinks and broken pipes. However, this coverage may be available to you as an endorsement on your policy, depending on where you live and the company you are insured with.

As a renter, it will be up to your landlord to carry overland water coverage to protect your rented space from flood damage if its available in your area. However, your renters insurance can provide coverage for your furniture, electronics and other personal belongings that could be damaged.

Most companies now offer some forms of “water” coverage. However, this varies from one company to another. Your eligibility for flood coverage will be largely determined by where you are located, what coverage is available by the company you are currently insured through and what type of water loss you have experienced.

See our blog post on Overland Water Protection to get the basics. And then call us to help navigate through the coverage you want and what is available for your area. Flood maps are not standardized for all companies as yet so where coverage might not be available through one, it may be through another. We can help you figure that out!

Sewer backup coverage is available for renters through all the companies we represent. Sewer backup is described as water accidentally backing up and flowing into your home from your municipal sewer system, private septic system or because of a sump pump failure.


  1. Does Renters insurance cover fire damage?

A benefit to having renters insurance is that if your home becomes unlivable because of fire damage or any other covered peril, renters insurance can also cover your temporary living expenses. Like most homeowners policies, renters insurance also typically includes liability coverage.

Renters insurance covers fire damage as long as you didn’t start the fire yourself! Part of the insurance speak you will see on your policy is “insured perils” which provides an outline of the types of “perils” or events that can occur for which your insurance will kick in.  And it goes beyond just the damage that a fire in your space might cause. Let’s say smoke from your fire spreads throughout the building. The cost of cleaning all that smoke damage up in other’s spaces as well as common areas will also be covered through the liability portion of your policy.


  1. Does Renters insurance cover pet damage?

Pet damage is not typically covered on your renters insurance policy.  Although this type of damage could be “sudden and accidental”, this is considered a risk you take on when you decide to have a pet. On the other hand, pet damage or injury to others is generally covered under renters insurance liability coverage.

Does your dog have separation anxiety and use your door as a chew toy while you are gone? Does your cat think your carpet is something to paw at?  Unfortunately damages caused by your furry friends are not covered by your renters insurance policy. Accidents happen. Having an animal, no matter how perfect they or how many instagram followers they have, is a bit of a risk.  As much as we love them and they are part of our family, it can be very frustrating when they cause damage but this is not an insurable risk.

However, if your pet decides to chew through your neighbour’s fence or destroy your friend’s belongings while they are staying with you, your insurance could kick in to help pay for repairs or replacement.  The liability coverage included in your policy will help cover your personal liability if you – or your pet – accidentally injure someone or damage their property.


  1. Does Renters insurance cover moving damage?

Hire some trusted movers because renters insurance will not cover any damage to your property during a move. Renters insurance will still cover your personal property while it is being moved if the loss is caused by a covered peril but will not cover damage caused by the movers.  This would be an insurable claim on your moving company’s insurance.


  1. Does Renters insurance cover car damage?

Your renters insurance will typically cover your belongings if they are stolen from your car, but would not cover damage from the car itself. For car damage, you will want to check your comprehensive automobile policy.

If someone breaks into your car and steals your laptop, your renters insurance will cover you granted you have taken steps to reduce the risk. For instance, you didn’t leave your car unlocked with the windows down and the laptop in plain sight on your seat.

Renters insurance does not cover physical damage to your car as it is not considered personal property under your renters insurance policy.


  1. Does Renters insurance cover damage to property?

Renters insurance provides coverage for your personal property, helping to recover the cost or replace your items that are damaged as a result of an insured peril.

Let’s break down that insurance speak. Think of all the stuff you own. It sure adds up quickly. Contents coverage, a component of renters insurance, will cover you to help replace your stuff that was lost or damaged.  This will include your furniture, clothes, electronics. Do you know how much you have invested in your belongings? If you’re not sure of the value of your contents, check out our renters insurance coverage calculator to help you get started.

It is important to note that contents coverage may not cover everything that you own.  Certain types of property, such as jewellery or furs, are covered on a renters insurance policy but only up to certain limits. If you have lots of valuable jewellery, make sure you increase the jewellery limit. This can be done right on our site when you purchase renters insurance.  You can customize all coverage limits to make sure your policy provides the coverage you need the most.


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Written by

Alex Harms is part of our marketing team at MIG Insurance and she specializes in writing content to make insurance easier to understand for our clients. She obtained her Bachelors in Commerce (Hons.) at the Asper School of Business and worked with MIG as a broker during her studies and now fulltime in a Marketing & Operations role. She has taken on many tasks her at MIG but enjoys the challenge. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family as well as her dog Murphy, out at the lake which is their favourite spot!