By Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division

If you rent your dwelling, consider purchasing renters insurance to protect yourself and your belongings in case of a disaster.  A landlord's insurance protects the building.  A renters policy will provide coverage for your personal belongings from covered perils, liability coverage against another person’s claims of bodily injury or property damage caused by your household members, and additional living expenses for a certain amount of time in case you are displaced from your property due to a covered peril.  Standard perils covered may include fire, lightning, smoke, windstorms, vandalism, theft, explosion, wind, and others as listed in the policy.  Floods and earthquakes are not covered and may need a separate policy for protection against these perils.  A renters policy may also have medical payment coverage when an accident occurs to other people in your home, regardless of fault.

To calculate how much renters insurance you should get, make an itemized list of your belongings and their replacement cost.  The Post-Disaster Claims Guide will assist with a property inventory and the filing of any future insurance claims.  Keep the list somewhere safe or electronically in the event you need the information for a claim.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost for renters insurance in Iowa in 2020 was $136 or $11.33 a month.  Of course, the more coverage you obtain, the more expensive the premium. 

Whether the policy uses an actual cash value (ACV) or a replacement cost value (RCV) will also affect the premium.  Replacement cost value pays for the full replacement of the damaged items up to the policy limits, while actual cash value pays the depreciated amount.  Speak to a licensed insurance agent regarding these options to see which option is best for your situation. 

For students going away to college, personal possessions may be covered under a parent’s homeowners policy if your student is living on-campus. If living off-campus, your student may need renter’s insurance.  Contact your homeowners insurance company or check your policy for student coverage.

If you are a consumer, or someone acting on their behalf, and are having a problem with the actions of an insurance company, entity, or agent, start with a call to the insurance company or agent.  If you are unsatisfied with their explanation, the Iowa Insurance Division may be able to provide assistance at 877-955-1212, and if needed, advise you to file a complaint on our website.  A Spanish version of the complaint form is also available.  You may also print out the Consumer Complaint form at the bottom of the webpage and submit it along with your supporting documentation by email to, by U.S. mail to the Iowa Insurance Division, 1963 Bell Avenue, Suite 100, Des Moines, Iowa 50315, or by fax to 515-654-6500.

To find the appropriate renters policy, speak to a licensed insurance agent.  Having a renters insurance policy may help protect you against covered losses.