The Top Tips for Choosing Renters Insurance in California

One look online, and you’ll see that renters insurance options are plentiful, prices are competitive, and policies are relatively easy to obtain. Before you jump on with the first insurer offering a great rate, you’ll need to know how to choose the best policy for you. Knowing the specifics of what you need in your renters policy will go a long way in helping you find adequate coverage.

Before shopping for renters insurance in California, follow these essential steps.

Know Your Priorities

Are you finishing up college, starting on your professional path, renting long term, or just temporarily? Do you own high-value, hard to replace items? Are you typically a little rough on your rentals, resulting in increased liability? These are all questions to ask yourself before shopping for renter’s insurance.

Rates can fluctuate depending on the individual needs of the renter. You may only require liability insurance. Or you may want to add coverage for personal property.

You’ll also need to consider the deductible amount or other additional coverage requirements. For instance, earthquake-prone areas may require additional coverage compared with properties not located in an earthquake zone.

Understand the Requirements

You may be surprised to find out that California does not require renters insurance. However, your landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover everything. If you choose to pass on the insurance, understand you may be missing out on more than you think.

You won’t be able to recover personal property lost as a result of theft, fire, earthquake, or water damage unless you have a policy with personal property coverage.

While California law does not require that renters carry insurance, many landlords require proof of renters insurance before signing you to a lease. Understand what your rental agreement requires and what type of rental will best fit your needs beyond the coverage basics.

Factors That May Affect The Cost of Your Renters Insurance

As with nearly all insurance plans, there are certain factors that determine the cost of renters insurance in California. While working with an insurance professional, like a broker, can help you figure out how much you can expect to spend. Keep these factors in mind while browsing your insurance options.

Where You Live

It should come as no surprise that where you live in California will play an integral role in how much your rental insurance costs. On average, rural areas are likely to have lower insurance premiums than urban areas. Even largely populated areas can see a range in pricing.

Los Angeles, for example, has the most expensive renters insurance premiums. As a city with at least 4 million people and growing, having the highest renters insurance is to be expected. Other urban areas, that are considered small in comparison, have some of the lowest rental insurance rates in the state. Cities with populations under 500,000, like Chula Vista or Irvine, may have premiums that average around $10 cheaper each month than in Los Angeles.

Crime Rates and Theft

Since theft is typically one of the things covered on your rental insurance plan, where you live will again determine the cost. If you live in cities like San Franciso, where larceny theft rates are highest, or in San Joaquin Valley, where auto theft incidences are high, your rental insurance is likely to be more expensive.

Suppose you rent in the Sierras, which includes Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mariposa, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties. In that case, your insurance may be significantly lower, considering it’s a low-risk area for theft and overall crime.


Every Californian knows that earthquakes are just a part of living in the beautiful state. While some areas are more prone to frequent earthquakes that have the potential to cause damage, standard rental policies will not cover earthquakes. As a renter, you have the option to pay for separate earthquake insurance, but you cannot find renters insurance that will include earthquake coverage.

Your Personal Needs

Whether you live in San Jose or Oakland, your lifestyle, living situation, and what you want to insure will play a huge role in determining the cost of your insurance. Here are a few things that you can expect to be covered under your rental insurance plan in California:

  • Fire (which may include wildfires)
  • Weather events like hail, strong wind, ice, snow
  • Explosions
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Accidental damage like leaking or tearing

While your personal property will be covered from any of the perils to a certain extent, you may want more extensive personal property coverage. Some renters may go for minimum coverage because they might have personal belongings that are not valued above the minimal coverage. If your personal property is valued higher than the minimum, you will want to strongly consider having a plan that offers full coverage. In short, the higher the coverage, the more expensive your insurance.

Ask the Right Questions

Before speaking with an agent, have your list of questions ready so you don’t forget any important points. Questions worth asking include the following:

Do limits on my personal property coverage exist?

Personal property coverage typically covers a lot. But some higher-priced items such as jewelry or electronics may require additional coverage. Ask your agent what kind of items require additional coverage.

What events does my policy cover?

Don’t assume your policy covers every type of incident. You may live in an area that requires additional coverage for certain kinds of damage, such as that caused by earthquakes or floods. Find out what isn’t covered, and decide if you should purchase extra coverage in preparation for the possibility of those types of events.

Using A Broker

An insurance broker is another option you may consider pursuing. Brokers represent only your interests; subsequently, they’ll work hard to find you the best rates based on your requirements and priorities. Before doing business with a broker, understand their fee upfront and ensure that they have no affiliation with the insurer providing the quote.

Final Thoughts

Although searching for renters’ insurance in California can feel intimidating, it’s not as tricky as it may seem. As long as you understand the requirements, research your options, and ask your agent the correct questions, you should be able to find a policy that fits your needs.

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