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Renter’s Insurance vs. Liability Waiver Program: What’s the Difference?

By Taylor

Many newly leased apartments mandate residents to present proof of renter’s insurance before moving in. It’s an additional expense, separate from your monthly rent, that you should be ready to account for.

Renter’s insurance typically covers three things: your personal property, liability, and additional expenses. 

At most properties, residents have the option to obtain renter’s insurance or instead participate in a liability waiver program to meet liability requirements.

So, what’s the difference between renter’s insurance and a liability waiver?

In this article, we will address common questions we receive about renter’s insurance and liability waiver programs, including what they cover, the costs of each, and the differences between the two options.

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What is renter’s insurance and what does it cover?

Renter’s insurance safeguards tenants throughout their lease period in a rental property, typically covering damages to their personal belongings resulting from fire, theft, natural disasters, or unforeseen incidents. This insurance includes various coverage types such as personal property coverage, personal liability coverage, and additional living expense or loss of use coverage.

Personal property coverage shields belongings against incidents like fire or theft.

Personal liability coverage provides protection if tenants are held accountable for injuries on their property or damages to others’ property. For instance, if someone sustains an injury due to a slip on your property or if you accidentally damage someone else’s property, personal liability coverage assists in covering medical expenses and legal fees.

Additional living expenses or loss of use coverage assists in covering extra costs incurred if tenants are required to vacate their property. This includes expenses related to food, transportation, pet care, boarding, and similar needs.

It’s essential to examine policy specifics to know the area of coverage. Some policies focus on safeguarding personal belongings, while others prioritize personal liability. Therefore, it’s your decision to choose the policy that aligns best with your needs.

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What are liability waiver programs and what do they cover?

Liability waiver programs, sometimes referred to as liability insurance, offer coverage for damages to the landlord’s property resulting from the tenant’s negligence.

For instance, if a tenant causes property damage, such as leaving a candle unattended leading to a fire, they would be responsible for the resulting property damage. However, if the tenant is enrolled in a liability waiver program, the landlord can file a claim through this policy to cover the damages caused by the fire.

Standard leases for student housing typically mandate tenants to maintain at least $100,000 of liability coverage. Many student housing complexes provide liability waiver programs to satisfy this tenant liability requirement.

Although liability waiver programs provide residents with liability up to $100,000, they differ from renter’s insurance. Liability waiver programs specifically address tenant liability for damages to the rental unit and others’ property. Residents don’t receive any coverage for personal belongings.

The landlord is listed on the policy as additional interest, and the program shields the landlord from property damage caused by the resident’s negligence.

Damages covered by liability waiver (landlord insurance) programs usually include fire, water discharge, and pipe leaks. However, damages not covered encompass theft, burglary, bodily injury, personal injury, natural disasters, criminal acts, or maintenance issues.

What is the cost of each option?

The cost of renter’s insurance will vary depending on the location of the property and how much coverage you would like. The 2024 average renter’s insurance in the state of Georgia will run you about $27 a month, equaling to about $324 per year. However, you can find coverage options ranging from around $10 per month to over $40 per month, depending on the type and amount of coverage you need.

The cost of liability waiver programs varies depending on the property management company or landlord. Typically, these range from around $10 to $25 per resident, per month. At Rambler, our liability waiver program is $15 per resident, per month.

You will not receive coverage for your personal property under liability waiver programs.

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What are the differences between the two?

The main difference between renter’s insurance and landlord’s insurance lies in whom they protect and the coverage they offer.

Renter’s insurance is typically comprehensive and shields you, the tenant, providing coverage for personal property, liability, and additional living expenses. 

Liability waiver programs are tailored to protect the property owner or landlord. Most liability waiver programs only exempt resident liability up to $100,000. Both the resident and the landlord are covered under the policy, and these plans are designed to protect the landlord from tenant negligence. The renter’s personal property and additional living expenses remain uncovered.

In summary, renter’s insurance typically includes the personal property, liability, and additional living expenses of the tenant, while liability waiver programs serve as a form of landlord protection, specifically addressing damages to the property caused directly by resident neglect.

Rambler’s Liability Waiver Program: Cardinal Protect

At Rambler, if you choose not to purchase renter’s insurance, you are automatically enrolled in Cardinal Protect, our liability waiver program managed through Foxen. You will be charged a fee of $15 per month, which you will see in your resident portal. 

Cardinal Protect provides mandatory liability coverage of $100,000 for damages caused by resident negligence such as fire, smoke, explosion, water damage, and sewer backup. It also covers up to $1,000 in displacement costs if you are temporarily unable to occupy your apartment, with no deductible on increased premiums for claims. 

It does not serve as a replacement for renter’s insurance; rather, it meets the minimum resident liability coverage required by the lease agreement.

Tenants can provide proof of renter’s insurance anytime throughout their lease and this expense will be removed from their account.

We hope this article helps you better understand both renter’s insurance and liability waiver programs, as well as the differences between the two. If you have any questions or need further clarification, please reach out to our leasing team. We are happy to help you with your housing search in any way we can!


Taylor is the New Development Community Manager for Rambler Atlanta. She has 5+ years of experience in leasing and property management. In her free time, you'll find Taylor trying out a new restaurant or playing with her dog, Boujie.

May 09, 2024

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