You just signed a lease on a New York apartment and you can’t wait to move in, invite some friends over and celebrate. Not so fast. Before a guest or piece of furniture crosses the threshold of your new home, you need to buy renters insurance.
Find the Best Renter Insurance in New York
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According to 2019 United States Census Bureau statistics, just 53.9% of New York housing units are owner occupied, far below the national average of 63.8%. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute ranks New York #50 in the nation for owner occupancy. Owner occupancy takes an even bigger nosedive in New York City, where renters occupy around two-thirds of all housing units.
Clearly, New York is home to loads of renters. Luckily, many great insurance companies sell renters insurance throughout the Empire State. But which New York renters insurance company is right for you?
The best New York renters insurance companies
Each year, J.D. Power produces a survey to determine the best renters insurance companies. Using a five-star rating system, Power rates insurers’ performance based on factors such as billing process, claims handling, interaction with customers, policy information, policy offerings and price, to come up with an overall satisfaction rating. In its 2019 U.S. Renters Insurance Study, the top New York renters insurance companies included:
- State Farm
According to The Zebra, a market research company that studies insurance markets, New York renters pay an average annual premium of $233 for renters insurance. That’s nearly $50 higher than the national average. Nonetheless, in its 2017 nationwide study of renters insurance rates, the Insurance Information Institute ranked New York ninth in the country.
Coverage levels and price play an important role in choosing a renters insurance company. We requested online quotes from our top five picks and received similar rates from most of the companies.
We based our quotes on the following profile:
- Detached, single family residence
- Three bedrooms and three bathrooms
- Frame construction
- Built in 1960
- Located in Albany
- Policyholders are a married couple, ages 57 and 40
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Farmers, State Farm and Travelers came out on top for price. However, Travelers’ standard renters insurance policies offers more personal property coverage in its standard policies for the same price as Farmers and State Farm. Comparing quotes, we found almost identical standard liability coverages, $100,000 in personal liability and $1,000 in medical payments coverage.
All five companies give you the option to purchase a policy online after receiving a quote. Only State Farm gives you the option to increase coverages from within the quote page on items such as business property, firearms, furs, jewelry and silverware.
Best New York renters insurance company for customer service: State Farm
In the J.D. Power study, State Farm earned five out of five stars for billing process, customer interaction, policy information, policy offerings and price, as well as a five-star rating for overall satisfaction. That’s because State Farm offers excellent customer support.
State Farm operates offices throughout New York in cities and many towns. You can call a dedicated agent any time to ask questions about your coverage, purchase another policy or file a claim. State Farm’s standard renters policies include personal property, liability and loss of use coverages.
Available for Android and Apple devices, the State Farm mobile app enables you to manage your insurance policy and file and track a claim from your smartphone or tablet. If you open a State Farm checking or savings account, you can also use the app to deposit checks, pay bills and transfer funds between accounts.
Best New York renters insurance for personal property coverage: Travelers
Travelers’ standard renters insurance policies include personal property, personal liability, medical payments and additional living expenses coverages. But Traveler’s goes a step further by offering a limited amount of home improvement coverage. If fire destroys your rental home, your renters policy will not cover structural losses.
However, if you made improvements to the property such as fresh paint or new carpeting, you can apply up to 10% of your personal property coverage to cover the cost of restoring your dwelling enhancements following a covered peril.
Travelers also offers renters the option to purchase replacement cost coverage and valuable items plus coverage to add additional protection for expensive belongings such as fine art and jewelry. Travelers also lets you add umbrella coverage, an extra layer of liability coverage to pay costs like attorneys fees if someone sues you following an accident in your home.
Best New York renters insurance company for seniors and retirees: Allstate
Allstate offers several ways for you to reduce your renters insurance premium, including automatic payments, claims-free and multi-policy discounts. You can also save up to 15% if you equip your rental home with fire alarms or a security system. But Allstate’s biggest discount goes to seniors 55 years of age and older and retirees, who can save up to 25% on their premiums.
Allstate’s standard policies include liability, medical payments, personal property and loss of use coverages. You can also add identity restoration coverage and scheduled personal property coverage, which enables you to increase the limits on expensive items such as audio equipment or collectibles. Allstate also offers renters flood insurance, an option some insurers don’t provide on renters policies.
Best New York renters insurance company for overall standard coverage: Nationwide
Like our other top picks, Nationwide’s standard policies include liability, medical payments, loss of use and personal property coverages. Nationwide also offers coverage for additions or alterations you make to the rental home. But Nationwide’s standard renters policies also include credit card coverage, which pays up to a limit you select if someone fraudulently uses your credit or debit card, someone forges one of your checks or you unwittingly receive counterfeit money.
Nationwide’s standard policies also include Brand New Belongings coverage, which is like replacement cost coverage. If you file a personal property claim, Nationwide will pay you the depreciated value of your belongings. If replacing the items costs more than the claim payment, Nationwide will issue another payment to cover the difference. Most insurance companies only offer replacement cost coverage as an addon.
Best New York renters insurance company for the claims process: Farmers
Farmers aims to settle claims efficiently and quickly. If a covered peril such as a fire damages your home, you can schedule an appointment for a Farmers claims agent to inspect the damage. During the visit, the agent will take a room-by-room, item-by-item inventory of your damaged property. For simple claims, the agent may give you an estimate and issue payment during the initial visit. More complex claims, especially those that involve medical payments, may take longer to resolve.
Farmers’ standard renters policies include liability, loss of use, medical payments and personal property coverages. Farmers also gives you the option to add identity theft and replacement cost coverages to your New York renters policy.
Farmers rewards non-smokers with a discount on their renters premium. You can also earn a discount if you purchase additional Farmers policies or equip your home with a fire alarm or security system.
How to choose the best NY renters insurance
Price and coverage are just two factors to consider when shopping for renters insurance. Follow a few simple guidelines to ensure you choose the best New York renters insurance.
- Before buying a renters insurance policy, make sure the company you’ve chosen holds a valid New York license by using the license lookup tool on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.
- Request quotes from several insurance companies to compare prices and coverages.
- Ask insurance agents to explain what perils a policy does and does not cover. Most renters insurance policies do not cover losses caused by earthquakes or floods. Likewise, some policies don’t cover damage caused by plumbing or sewage backups. If a policy doesn’t cover these perils, you may need to add optional coverages for more comprehensive protection.
- Examine limits closely. Personal property coverage limits the amount paid for different types of belongings. If you own expensive items, like coin collections, fine art or musical instruments, you may need to increase coverage for those belongings or add an endorsement to your policy for added protection.
- Consider how your credit score will affect your insurance rate. Most states, including New York, permit insurance companies to use your credit score as a rating factor. If you have poor credit, you’ll typically pay a higher rate. Search the market to find an insurance company that does not set premiums based on credit scores.
Do I need renters insurance in New York?
Yes. If disaster strikes, your landlord’s property insurance policy will not pay to replace your personal belongings or cover your expenses if someone sues you following an accident in your home. When buying a renters insurance policy, make sure it includes certain standard coverages, including:
- Personal property coverage to replace your damaged belongings such as clothing, electronics and furniture.
- Personal liability coverage to help pay expenses such as attorney’s fees if someone sues you over an accident that occurs in your home.
- Medical payments coverage to pay the medical expenses of a guest who sustains an injury in your home.
- Loss of use coverage (also called additional living expenses coverage) to help pay expenses such as hotel bills, restaurant tabs or rent if a covered peril such as a fire displaces you from your home.
The bottom line
You never know what hand the future will deal you. Fire could destroy your rental home, a runaway car might crash through your living room, a burglar may break into your apartment or a guest might slip and fall in your house and break an arm. New York renters insurance is affordable compared to the cost of these disasters, so it makes good financial sense to buy insurance.