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Can I get short-term renters insurance?
No, you can’t get short-term renters insurance, if by “short-term” you mean “month-to-month.”
All renters insurance policies require a commitment of at least several months. Most insurance policies require a minimum of 12 months, although you’ll occasionally see policies lasting as little as 6 months.
Shorter policies are usually more expensive, and relatively few insurers offer them. When you buy renters insurance, it’s usually better to plan on holding your policy for at least one year.
Renters insurance covers you when you stay somewhere temporarily
If you’re planning on short-term renting a house or apartment (e.g. while you’re on a trip, or while you’re waiting for your permanent apartment to become available), you don’t need to buy a special type of insurance. You can cover yourself with a regular renters insurance policy.
If you’re staying somewhere temporarily and already have renters insurance
Your existing policy will continue to protect you throughout your stay. You don’t need to notify your insurer that you’re staying somewhere else unless you have to file a claim. Note that you can transfer your renters insurance policy if you are planning to relocate permanently.
If you’re staying somewhere temporarily and don’t have renters insurance
If you decide to buy a policy, make sure you buy it for your permanent address, and not the guest house or hotel where you’re currently living. (Don’t worry if you don’t have the lease yet — your insurer probably won’t ask to see it.)
Your coverage will kick in as soon as you buy the policy, not when you move back into your permanent dwelling.
Insurance for short-term rental units and sublets
An increasing number of homeowners and tenants are using platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo to rent out their places to vacationers for extra cash. If you plan on being one of them, look into getting short-term rental property insurance. This is a type of policy that covers loss or damage incurred while others are staying in your home.
Short-term rental insurance protects you from the following financial risks:
- Liability for guests’ injuries
- Overuse of utilities
- Identity theft
- Stolen property and vandalism
- Loss of rental income
- Damage sustained by guests
- Liquor liability
- Infestation (bed bugs, etc.)
If you’re a homeowner
If you only rent out your home occasionally, you should ask your insurance company if you’re covered under your basic homeowners insurance plan. If you rent your home out frequently, consider getting dedicated short-term rental insurance or vacation rental insurance.
If you’re a tenant who wants to sublease
If you sublease your rental occasionally (for fewer than 90 days per year) your regular renters insurance policy might cover you.
For example, if you live in New Orleans and you sublease your apartment once a year during Mardi Gras, your renters insurance policy will probably cover your personal property and liability. However, every company is different, so you should double-check your policy and make sure it doesn’t have any special subletting exclusions.
Note that some landlords prohibit their tenants from subleasing their homes to others. Always speak to your landlord first before subleasing your rental property or using home-sharing platforms like Airbnb.
If you’re planning on subletting your home for a longer period (if you’re a student about to study abroad for a semester, for instance), it’s less likely your regular renters insurance policy will protect you.
Some insurers offer short-term rental insurance to tenants in addition to homeowners. Check with your renters insurance provider to see if they do. There’s also a chance that they’ll let you add an endorsement onto your policy that will extend coverage to your possessions while you’re subletting your apartment to someone else.
This is a relatively uncommon situation, so plan on calling your insurer instead of checking their website. Be ready to explain your request as completely and clearly as you can.
“Short-term” renters insurance vs. travel insurance: which is better for traveling?
As previously stated, “short-term” renters insurance doesn’t really exist. But if you already have renters insurance or are thinking about getting it, one of its major perks is that it protects you even when you travel.
In other words, you don’t need to buy a special “short-term” renters insurance policy — your regular renters insurance will continue to cover your possessions and personal liability while you’re away, both the property you take with you and the things you leave at home.
However, there are situations that occur while traveling that renters insurance doesn’t cover. These include:
- Pests (like bed bugs) in your hotel room damaging your stuff
- Medical coverage
- Cancellations and delays (changing your airline itinerary, rebooking your hotel room, etc)
Additionally, if your luggage is lost or damaged while in the hands of a third party like an airline, your renters insurance provider might not cover it. Different providers handle situations like that in different ways, and they sometimes deal with them on a case-by-case basis.
Travel insurance provides additional protection
If you’re not satisfied with the travel coverage offered by your renters insurance plan, you can purchase travel insurance.
You can usually get a travel insurance policy for around 5% to 10% of your trip’s total cost, including upfront purchases like your ticket and hotel room, but not whatever spur-of-the-moment purchases you make along the way. The price may vary based on factors like your age and the length of your trip.
Travel insurance coverage
Travel insurance policies cover:
- Trip cancellations and delays
- Lost or damaged baggage
- Emergency medical evacuation and healthcare
The last point is particularly important if you have a history of health issues (like heart trouble) and are traveling somewhere that doesn’t have modern healthcare facilities. The same applies if you’re going to a remote area. If you break your leg while hiking in the wilderness and need to be evacuated in a helicopter, you don’t want to pay for that out of your own pocket.
If you’re not traveling anywhere dangerous and aren’t planning on taking any valuable stuff with you, you probably don’t need travel insurance, but it can still be worth getting it for your own peace of mind.