Does Renters Insurance Cover Fire Damage to the Building?

Auto & Home Insurance Expert | Writer & Editor
Andrew Lee is insurance content writer and editor for Andrew holds a Bachelor's degree from Ryerson University and has extensive experience of writing content for financial websites. His expertise is especially strong in home and auto insurance.

We ensure content accuracy by following our editorial guidelines. We add our partners’ links that compensate us after the content is written. This means that our reviews and comparisons are independent of any paid products featured on our site.

No, renters insurance does not cover fire damage to the building, because the building is covered by the owner’s insurance. Renters insurance does cover the contents of the building, which includes the renter’s belongings.

What Does Renters Fire Insurance Cover?

Renters fire insurance covers only property owned by the renter. This can include furniture, art, decorations, clothing, tools, curtains or drapes, light fixtures, and rugs belonging to the renter. Not only actual burns, but smoke damage and water damage caused by firefighting are covered. (Some insurance companies will not cover smoke damage from smudge pots used to fight frost on farms or from fires used to make illegal drugs).

How Is the Amount Paid to the Renter Determined?

The amount the insurance company pays to the policyholder is the amount it will cost to replace his or her property, minus the deductible. When the renter buys a policy, he or she decides upon the deductible, which helps to determine premiums. With high premiums, the deductible will be low, but renters paying low premiums will have high amounts of money deducted from money owed them, should a fire ever damage their property. For example, if a $1000.00 bed must be replaced, with a $100.00 deductible, the insurance company will pay $900.00. If there is a $500.00 deductible, the company will pay only $400.00. In the first case, the renter has had to pay a higher premium. It is a good idea to save receipts for all major purchases, and keep pictures of all insured items to show to insurance agents when making claims. 

How Does the Cause of the Fire Affect the Claim?

The cause of the fire is not relevant unless the renter commits arson. A cause from inside the building, such as faulty wiring, is covered, and outside causes, such as a spreading forest fire, are all covered. Although perils such as floods and earthquakes, usually excluded from most renter’s policies, if they cause a fire, the fire is still covered.

What about Possessions Outside the Apartment or House?

The renter’s property outside the building, such as a pair of glasses or a telephone left out in the car, are fully covered.

Does Renters Insurance Cover Negligence and Bodily Harm?

Renters insurance can cover negligence if the renter causes damage to the owner’s property by handling fire in an unsafe manner. The landlord’s own insurance company might try to recover property damage from the renter if he or she uses a fireplace without a screen or mishandles holiday decorations. Renter’s insurance can also cover medical expenses of guests who are harmed due to burns or smoke inhalation from a fire. 

In the Case of Evacuation, Will Fire Insurance Cover Necessary Expenses?

If evacuation is mandated due to fire, the necessary inconveniences can be covered. Motel costs are calculated based upon the property’s rental cost and amenities such as swimming pools. The cost of commuting to work across a greater distance may also be included. 

What Does Renter’s Fire Insurance Not Cover?

Renter’s fire insurance does not cover fire damage to automobiles. This type of damage can only be covered by car insurance. It also does not cover damage to property owned by guests or roommates unless they are added to the policy. 

What Are Ways of Lowering Fire Insurance Premiums?

Like all insurance, fire insurance premiums are computed based upon probabilities. Lowering the chance of fire damage with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and ceiling sprinklers can lower premiums. Choosing to rent a house or apartment home near a fire extinguisher can also help lower costs.