I know exactly four people around my age who own their own houses, apartments, or condos. What does that mean? It means that everyone else I know rents. Renting a home or an apartment is incredibly common — 37% of Americans are renters, and of that number, a whopping 73% of renters are under age 44. And while 95% of U.S. homeowners had homeowners insurance, only 40% of renters had renters insurance, according to a 2016 Insurance Information Institute poll. Renters insurance coverage is different in each state, and I’m on a mission to find the best renters insurance in New York.
Renters insurance in NYC nearly always costs more than insuring your rented pad outside of the city. The good news is this: Renters insurance isn’t usually that expensive, period. With that being said, premiums will always vary depending on your exact address, building, ZIP code, and many other factors. Use the quote tool below to shop around and compare rates for your renters insurance.
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The 6 Best New York Renters Insurance Companies
In order to find the best renters insurance in New York, I used the five largest homeowners insurance providers in NY as a jumping off point because the policies, endorsements and discounts are incredibly similar. (If a company is good at processing claims for homeowners insurance, it is safe to assume it will also be good at processing the same exact claims for a renter.)
For good measure, I also tossed a newer, lesser-known company called Bungalow Insurance into my evaluation to see what would happen. I combed through each provider’s coverage options, endorsements, and discounts. I clicked through websites, called or live-chatted with customer service reps, and applied for quotes. Finally, I compared each provider’s financial strength and customer satisfaction rates for the claims process, evaluated the quote-getting process, and crunched the data.
*I was not able to obtain a quote from Chubb Ltd.
When obtaining a quote, I used the same real address of a brick apartment building in Brooklyn. I said I lived alone, didn’t have a dog, and that the apartment had basic safety features, such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers and deadbolt locks. I also estimated that I owned about $25,000 worth of stuff.
New York Renters Insurance Reviews
State Farm won by a nose. Out of the six insurance companies we evaluated, State Farm did the best on the Consumer Reports’ homeowners insurance survey (renters insurance does not have its own survey, and Chubb Ltd. was not included in the survey), a key rating based on input from 90,000 Consumer Reports subscribers. It was the only company to score a 4 out of 5 rating for damage amount, meaning that customers are pleased with State Farm’s damage estimates, which impact the amount of money you receive when you file a claim.
Additionally, State Farm had the highest customer satisfaction during claims score, the most endorsements, solid financial stability, and a comprehensive website. Everything that was covered under the renters insurance policy was neatly laid out on the home page, and that was where I learned that, in addition to being covered for the standards (fire, storms, wind, hail, lightning, freezing, weight of ice, snow or sleet, and theft) I was also covered for less-likely occurrences: damage done by riots, to be exact. Also, if an airplane lands on your apartment building? You’re covered. You’re also covered if a drunk celebrity drives their Range Rover into your living room and breaks your TV. These are good things to know, and I didn’t find them on any other providers’ websites.
State Farm is also fairly generous with discounts. Multiple lines of insurance; having basic safety features in your rental unit; being a renter over age 55 — all of these will qualify you for a price break. Of all the insurance companies, State Farm was also the only one to specifically mention an inflation guard endorsement directly on their website, which is a nice option to have. (An inflation guard protects you by raising your coverage limit to jive with inflation.)
Finally, State Farm’s renters insurance quote for my apartment in Brooklyn was the cheapest quote we received: $128 per year. This would appear to be the best overall renters insurance policy for someone looking for basic coverage in the state of New York.
With the most discounts, the highest financial stability rating from Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and A.M. Best, and an incredibly thorough quote process, Travelers renters insurance nearly won the day. In the end, they came in second, after State Farm, due to three things: several points’ difference in Consumer Reports satisfaction rating, its slightly-fewer-than-State Farm’s endorsements, and an absence of a live chat feature on its website.
Let’s talk about that quote process. Travelers asked me questions I wasn’t asked anywhere else: How many miles was it from my apartment to a fire station? How many miles from the coast did I live? What floor was my apartment on? I thought those questions were smart, and liked how the company seemed to have a thorough picture of exactly the type of structure we were living in.
There were also discounts I didn’t find anywhere else. For instance, Travelers was the only provider I found that offered discounts for living in a 100% smoke-free building, and for living in an LEED-certified building. And at $164 per year, with the option to choose your own deductible, Travelers was also the second cheapest choice. Pretty good!
Allstate nearly tied with Travelers. Its site is fairly uncluttered, the quote process was simple yet thorough, and it has hefty discounts. You can save up to 15% on your premium if your rental unit has fire alarms and/or a security system, up to 5% for auto-payment, up to 25% if you’re over age 55, and up to 20% if you’ve never placed a claim with an insurance provider when you become an Allstate customer. Where Allstate fell slightly behind was its Consumer Reports satisfaction rating, which was a full 5 points lower than State Farm and 2 points lower than any other rated provider.
I also weren’t thrilled with the educational resources on Allstate’s website. I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of items or events covered by renters insurance, and when I called to ask what exactly was covered, the efficient and polite agent on the phone explained that he would have to email a complete list to me. I didn’t love that, since there was a button prompting me to go ahead and buy the quoted policy on the site — what was I getting, exactly? At $233 per year, however (and don’t forget about those discounts) Allstate is still one of the cheaper options in the state.
Liberty Mutual was a well-rounded renters insurance provider, coming in just behind State Farm and Travelers in Consumer Reports claims management ratings. It offers all the standard renters insurance basics, but was the only one to offer a specific home computer and smartphone coverage endorsement, which we thought was good, since items like tablets, Macbooks, and smartphones are increasingly important parts of many people’s lives — especially for students — and cost a lot.
Where Liberty Mutual fell short, however, was in two areas: pricing and customer service. My quote was a whopping $673 per year, with no discernible differences in coverage compared to the other providers. Second, my customer service experience was less than ideal. When I called to ask questions about the high cost of the my quote, the agent I spoke with could not answer why the price was so high compared to the rest of my quotes.
Chubb was a wild card, the only insurance provider I investigated from which I could not get a quote. Chubb was not included on Consumer Reports scores, and its web page for renters insurance was thoroughly unhelpful, offering only the broadest ideas of what might be covered under a Chubb renters insurance policy. That being said, what I did see looked good — and unique.
Chubb offers built-in full replacement cost of items damaged or stolen (it’s not an endorsement!), and was the only provider offering primary, worldwide car rental coverage when your liability limit is $1 million or more. Chubb does not offer quotes. Once you’re on the website, you are directed to find an agent in your area who will work with you “personally to help insure your rental property and the items inside it.” That’s not terrible, but it surely isn’t as convenient as my other recommendations.
Bungalow is a new kid on the insurance block. It’s not rated on Consumer Reports and its website is stylishly minimal, proclaiming that its goal is “To make it a little bit more pleasant to buy insurance.” Here, at last, is a company that knows its renters insurance customer base: people younger than 50.
Its quote process is fast. Bungalow’s MO is to get you to buy insurance quickly. But it lacks information; there’s a FAQ section, but it applies to all insurance provided by Bungalow, not specifically renters. Coverages are not listed, there aren’t any discounts, and there’s no live chat feature. If you want more information, you’re prompted to send an email or call.
I called, and wasn’t blown away. There were several options to get through before I spoke to a human, and the customer service representative I talked to seemed both bored and irritated by my polite questions about renters insurance coverages. He explained that Bungalow offered several “other endorsements” that weren’t listed on the website, but declined to go into detail, instead prompting me to send an email. My quote, which was $459 per year, did not show up online with any payment options, but when I asked, I was told that I could pay quarterly or monthly. (A monthly payment plan with Bungalow costs $5 per month extra.) While Bungalow has good reviews online, I generally wasn’t impressed, and therefore, it landed at the bottom of my list.
New York in Nutshell: What Should I Prepare For?
In terms of price, the state can be divided into two sections: New York City and its surrounding boroughs, and everywhere else. Renters insurance is more expensive in NYC than it is in say, Fishkill, NY, due to factors such as crime, the potential for fire, and the city’s location (surrounded by coastal waters).
The state of New York experiences harsh winters with temperatures cold enough to freeze and burst pipes. It experiences dramatic storms and floods (remember Hurricane Sandy and its billions of dollars of damage?) The state is also filled with old buildings — the oldest average building-age in the country, meaning that lots of buildings were built over a hundred years ago. Old houses and apartment buildings come with risks like old electrical wiring, old heating systems—old everything. And old everything can mean more risks for an insurance company. You should also be prepared for (get ready) floods. If you’re living in New York, you’re going to want to add a flood insurance endorsement to your renters insurance.
Other than adding additional flood insurance, you should be OK with a standard renters insurance policy, which covers the most common claims in New York: wind damage, theft/burglary, fire, and the weight of snow or ice.
Do I need renters insurance?
Let’s say you’re renting a first-floor studio apartment by yourself in Brooklyn. You go to work in the morning. When you come back, the main entrance to your apartment building is unlocked, ugh (someone in your building always forgets to shut the door all the way.) You go to your apartment, and…the door handle is broken. You swing the door open to a totally ransacked apartment, with lots of stuff missing and lots of broken items. You were robbed. The items you lost include:
- A $2,000 MacBook Pro
- $1,000 worth of other computer-related electronics
- A $500 mountain bike
- A $600 TV
- A $300 Nintendo Wii
- A $300 camera
- A gold watch from your father worth $1,000
- A truly solid vintage record collection and your stereo system (Priceless. OK, probably $1,500 worth of records/equipment)
That’s a $7,200 loss. With a standard renters insurance policy that covers theft (all do), you’re out $500 — your deductible.
Without renters insurance, you’re out $7,200. That is $7,200 worth of stuff that you paid for or own, that you’ll need or want to replace, with your own money. Using the policy we were quoted at State Farm, you could have had all your stuff covered for the cost of two fancy espresso drinks per month. You need renters insurance, especially if you live in New York City.
New York’s serious storms, harsh winters, older buildings, and relatively high rates of burglary make the case for investing in renters insurance. Comparing premiums and coverage options from several different companies is the best way to find the right coverage for where you live. Start getting quotes by entering your ZIP code in the tool below.
Best Renters Insurance in New York
- State Farm
- Liberty Mutual
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