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Only two of 32 renters interviewed by the New York State Insurance Department following last month’s crane collapse on New York City’s East Side were protected by tenants insurance.

That low number is hardly surprising. Nationally, a 2006 survey by the Insurance Research Council found that only 43 percent of all renters were insured. In New York City, that percentage is believed to be significantly lower because of the high cost of living.

“Renters insurance is typically inexpensive and provides valuable protection when the contents of a renter’s apartment are damaged or stolen. This type of insurance may even protect a renter from liability when another person is injured while in the renter’s home,” said Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo.

Tenants insurance protects against losses caused by such events as fires, lightning strikes, windstorms or incidents of vandalism or theft. Even water damage from a building’s plumbing is usually covered. In some cases, the insurance will reimburse an insured individual for some of the added expenses incurred when a person is forced out of a rental property damaged by an event such as a fire.

Some renters may believe – mistakenly – that their personal property is covered by a building owner’s insurance. Others, like recent college graduates, may be unaware of tenants insurance and some simply decide not to buy it.

College students residing in off-campus housing are encouraged to purchase tenants insurance. College students residing on-campus and still considered a dependent are generally covered under their parent’s homeowners’ insurance policy. Parents should, however, review their homeowner’s policy to confirm that coverage exists for students living on-campus. Depending upon the location of the parents’ home, coverage may be limited and/or off-premises theft exclusions may need to be added back onto a parent’s homeowners policy.

Tenants insurance is relatively inexpensive, but premium rates can vary significantly based on the insurer, coverage limits, deductibles and the property’s location. Most policies place a cap on coverage for stolen or damaged property, so people considering tenants insurance should verify the limits of individual policies and buy higher limits, if needed. In some cases, such as insuring fine jewelry or valuable artwork, policyholders will often need either a rider or floater added to the insurance policy.

Additional information on tenants insurance can be found in the Department’s “Consumer Shopping Guide for Homeowners and Tenants Insurance.” The publication is available on the Department’s website,, or consumers may call the Department’s Consumer Services Bureau toll-free at 1-800-342-3736.


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