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What is a rider in renters insurance?
In renters insurance, a rider is an addition to your renters insurance policy. Riders are also called endorsements, and can add new types of coverage to your policy (like drain and sewer backup protection, which renters insurance doesn’t normally offer).
You can also use a rider to increase the maximum amount your provider will pay for certain types of items. For example, most policies feature a cap (known as a sub-limit) on how much they cover money, defined as “paper money, coins, bullion, and bank notes.”
This means that even if the rest of your property is covered up to $30,000, your insurer might cover any money you store in your home up to a much lower limit, like $250. By purchasing a rider, you can increase this limit so that your money is fully protected.
Is there a difference between an endorsement and a rider in renters insurance?
There’s no difference between an endorsement and a rider in renters insurance (or in any other type of insurance, for that matter).
“Rider” and “endorsement” are two terms for the same thing. The only difference between them is that “endorsement” gets you slightly more points in Scrabble.
When should I get a renters insurance rider?
You should get a renters insurance rider if you need additional protection for your valuable items or for disasters that your plan wouldn’t otherwise cover.
We talk about common riders, and the situations when you might want to purchase them, in the rest of this article.
Common renters insurance riders
Most providers offer the following types of riders:
Scheduled personal property riders
You can buy a rider to cover a certain type of item, such as jewelry, more comprehensively. This is referred to as scheduling, and riders that do it are called scheduled personal property riders.
Scheduling to increase a sub-limit
As mentioned, you can use a rider to increase the sub-limit on a particular type of possession.
For instance, many policies feature a $1,000 sub-limit on collectible trading cards. If you have a valuable collection, you might add a rider to “schedule” cards and increase the cap on their coverage from $1,000 to $8,000 (or whatever the appraised value of your collection is).
Scheduling to add a new type of coverage
When you schedule a class of items, you can also sometimes protect it from damage that your policy otherwise wouldn’t cover. For example, accidental breakage isn’t a covered peril in most policies. (“Accidental breakage” can mean dropping an item so that it shatters, or catching it in a car door, or other similarly unfortunate scenarios.) Many insurance companies offer riders to insure your jewelry against this type of damage.
Commonly scheduled items
People often schedule the following types of items:
- Trading cards
- Comic books
- Sports memorabilia
- Wine collections
- Stamp collections
- Expensive electronics
- Boats (including canoes and kayaks)
- Other sports equipment (golf clubs, camping tear, skis, etc)
- Musical instruments
- Silverware and goldware
Floaters are very similar to scheduled property riders. The difference is that, whereas scheduled property riders add coverage to an entire class of items, floaters add coverage to a single item, or at most a group of related items that you store together, like a collection of stamps that all live in the same drawer.
Floaters are useful if you have just one valuable item that you really care about — such as your wedding or engagement ring — and you don’t need to schedule that entire class of items (i.e. you don’t have any other jewelry you want to insure).
Additional perils riders
Renters insurance doesn’t cover every type of disaster, and the coverage you get depends on whether you have a named perils or all-risk policy. (See our article on what renters insurance covers to find out which perils it commonly excludes.)
Some insurers offer riders to add a new type of coverage to your policy. These riders include:
Sewer and drain backup riders
Although renters insurance covers water damage from burst pipes and leaky appliances, it doesn’t cover sewage and drain backups or sump pump failures. Most insurers offer an inexpensive rider (which usually costs less than $50 per year) that adds this type of coverage.
Getting this rider is a good idea if your home has a basement that’s below the water table.
Sinkhole riders, sometimes called catastrophic ground cover collapse (CGCC) riders, offer protection against naturally occurring sinkholes.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend much time worrying about sinkholes, but while they might be uncommon, they’re also expensive. The average payout for a sinkhole is in the vicinity of $140,000, so you should consider buying this rider if you live in a sinkhole-prone state, such as Florida or Tennessee.
Renters insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes, but some insurers let you add limited earthquake coverage to your plan with an earthquake rider.
If you live in a tectonically active area, such as California, you can ask your provider whether they offer this rider. It’s relatively uncommon and probably won’t offer enough coverage to pay for all of your things, so you might need to purchase a dedicated earthquake insurance policy instead.
Although renters insurance covers water damage, it doesn’t cover floods. (When water pours in from outside, that’s a flood; burst pipes don’t count.)
Some insurers offer flood riders, although, as with earthquake riders, these are relatively rare. If your state sees a lot of extreme weather, you might need to look into flood insurance instead.
Pet damage rider
Although renters insurance usually covers dog bites, insurers often exclude large dog breeds from coverage, or restrict the amount they’ll pay out if your dog bites someone and you’re held liable for their medical bills.
You can sometimes buy a pet damage rider to protect yourself from dog-related liability. Some landlords require this rider because it also covers damage that your pet might cause to the unit itself, such as scratches on doors or the floor. (Note that those are expenses that otherwise would come out of your security deposit.)
Identity theft coverage rider
You can add identity theft coverage to your renters insurance policy for around $25 a year. This type of coverage is very common, and many insurers automatically prompt you to add it when you purchase your policy. It covers the costs of restoring your stolen identity and repairing your credit.
Identity theft is a serious threat; in 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 1.4 million reports of identity theft, which is almost certainly an undercount. However, it’s worth noting that most cases of identity theft are relatively inexpensive to fix (costing under $500 on average), which makes this decision less clear-cut.
Ultimately, you have to think about your personal risk tolerance when you decide whether an identity theft rider is right for you.
Renters insurance usually covers watercraft (i.e. boats), but only in a limited fashion. Boats are only protected while they’re in your garage or elsewhere in your dwelling, not when they’re on the water, and they’re usually only covered up to $1,000. Most policies also only cover boats that are under 26 feet long and have relatively weak engines.
Some renters insurance providers offer more robust boat coverage with watercraft riders. However, if you have a large boat with a powerful motor, renters insurance will probably never fully cover it. You might want to look into buying a separate boat insurance plan instead.
Assisted living care rider
Some insurance companies offer an assisted living care rider, which will cover the assisted living costs of your spouse or relatives if they need to relocate to an assisted living facility. This rider doesn’t cover hospice care.
Refrigerated property coverage
Renters insurance covers food loss, but limitations usually apply to this coverage. For instance, if your refrigerator loses power, your policy might only cover your lost food if the power loss was caused by another covered peril, such as ice on the power line.
A refrigerated property rider provides more comprehensive coverage to items stored in your fridge or freezer. If you have a lot of expensive items in refrigeration, like a freezer full of really nice steaks, this rider might be useful to you, but it’s overkill for most people.
At-home business rider
If you run a business from home, a standard renters insurance policy won’t cover your equipment, such as your work laptop. An at-home business rider extends coverage to these items, and you might also be allowed to claim tax deductions on your renters insurance premiums.
If you have a lot of business equipment, getting a separate business insurance policy might be a better idea. Create an inventory of your equipment and speak with a representative from your insurance company to see which option is best for you.
Although people usually get riders to add coverage to their plan, there are some riders that take coverage away. People usually get these riders to save money on their monthly premiums (i.e. the cost of renters insurance).
If there’s a type of coverage you don’t particularly want, you can waive your rights to it with an exclusion rider. In return, your insurer will knock a few dollars off your monthly premiums. For instance, if you make a point of never taking your valuables out of your home, you might be able to get cheaper renters insurance by buying an off-premises theft exclusion rider, since you don’t really need off-premises theft coverage anyway.
Sometimes, your insurer will only sell you a policy if you agree to add a certain exclusion rider. Let’s say that your renters insurance provider refuses to cover pit bulls (which is fairly common). Instead of denying you a policy outright, they might require you to add a rider that states that your dog bite liability will never be covered.
Some insurers offer other riders
This isn’t a comprehensive list of all the riders that insurance companies offer.
Technically, any change or addition to an insurance policy is considered a rider, so there’s really no limit to what they can do. The limiting factor is what your insurer is willing to offer.
If you’re interested in a type of coverage that you don’t see here, call your provider and ask to speak with an agent, or check their website for more information.
How to add a rider to your renters insurance policy
To add a rider to your policy, you need to contact your insurance company. You might be able to do this via their website — if they have an online portal that lets you make changes to your policy, it will probably have a list of the most common riders (e.g. to add water backup and identity theft coverage).
To buy a more specialized rider, call your insurance company and ask to speak with an agent. They’ll explain which riders they offer and walk you through the process of buying them.
How much does it cost to add a rider?
Adding coverage with a rider will increase your renters insurance premiums in the following ways:
Scheduled property riders
The price of a scheduled property rider is usually a percentage of the value of the items that you want to protect. The exact percentage depends on the class of item.
For example, several insurers allow you to schedule jewelry at a cost of about 1.5% to 2% of the value of your collection. That means that if your jewelry collection is worth $10,000 in total, you can expect to pay about $150 to $200 per year for a jewelry rider.
Most other items are cheaper to schedule. Progressive, for instance, allows you to schedule collectibles like stamps at a cost of 0.8% of the value of your collection.
The cost of other riders varies. Because renters insurance itself is quite cheap, it’s rare for a rider to cost more than a few dollars per month, and they sometimes cost much less. Lemonade is one insurer that usually offers water backup and identity theft protection for under $1 per month (each).
In other words, when you purchase additional coverage with a renters insurance rider, you can expect the yearly cost to be measured in dozens — not hundreds — of dollars.
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