It seems that renter's insurance only covers the tenant's property and perhaps guests. I suspect that a far bigger financial risk for a tenant is in liability due to causing a fire, flood or other damages. How can one get insured for that?

As specific examples, your desktop computer could spark and catch fire (this does happen), or the drain pipe inside the wall may decay and break, flooding several floors below (this happened to me), and you could be accused of using the wrong drain cleaner, even if it is some of the previous residents' doing.

The regular renter's insurance policies that I've seen do not claim to protect you in these cases, so I have to assume that they don't.

  • 1
    Curious, how can a tenant cause a flood? Oct 10, 2014 at 14:47
  • @ChrisInEdmonton: Break a water pipe? Oct 10, 2014 at 14:51
  • Ah. I had been thinking of overland floods. Thanks. :) Oct 10, 2014 at 15:04
  • How would you break a water pipe? Unless you're planning on renovating the bathroom or kitchen and start using a jackhammer to remove old tiles - how would a tenant otherwise break a water pipe?
    – Victor
    Oct 10, 2014 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


Renters' Insurance should also have some level of liability coverage. I.e.: if you caused a flooding because you went on and broke the pipe, or a fire because you smoked in the bed - there should be some level of coverage for that.

However, most of the damage the tenant can do is probably not accidental. If you broke the pipe - you probably did something wrong. If you caused fire by smoking in bed - you obviously did something wrong. While seemingly accidental, you're deeply at fault. Insurance companies are not in business for rewarding risky behavior.

Accidents where the tenant has nothing to do with what happened (earthquakes, fires because of, say, wiring, flooding because it rained too much, or bird flying into a window and shattering it) - are covered by the homeowner's insurance.

In any case, talk to your insurance agent about your specific policy and concerns.

  • Accidental insurance is always for things where you are at fault. If you are not at fault, you don't need to pay anyway.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 10, 2014 at 22:58
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    @gnasher729 there's a difference between pipe breaking because it was not maintained properly (landlord's problem) and the pipe breaking because you jumped on it or hit it with a hammer (your problem). 1st case doesn't concern you - landlord's insurance will pay. 2nd case - no insurance will pay since you shouldn't have done it. But if you dropped the hammer accidentally while hanging a new light fixture - then your renter's insurance will kick in.
    – littleadv
    Oct 10, 2014 at 23:32

You need to get some thing called landlord insurance, tenants only covers his belongings. Any property damage caused deliberately or unknowingly is not covered in this, its upon the owner to get landlord insurance.

  • It seems to me that this is something only the landlord can take out, not the tenant.
    – MWB
    Nov 13, 2014 at 12:36

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