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

By Grace

Most new apartments require residents to provide proof of renter’s insurance prior to move in. This is an additional expense, on top of your monthly rent, that you’ll need to be prepared for. 

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

Read Next: A Student’s Guide to Renter’s Insurance

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.

Interior image of Rambler bedroom with furniture and finishes.

Representative bedroom featuring Rambler’s standard furniture and finishes.

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

Renter’s insurance provides protection for tenants during their lease period in a rental property. Plans typically offer coverage for damages to the renter’s personal property or belongings caused by fire, theft, natural disasters, or other unforeseen events. There are different coverage types, including personal property coverage, personal liability coverage, and additional living expense, or loss of use, coverage.

Personal property coverage protects your belongings from covered incidents like fire or theft. 

Personal liability coverage protects you if you’re held responsible for injuries in your property or damages to someone else’s property. For example, if someone slips and falls on your property, or you accidentally damage someone else’s property, personal liability coverage can help cover medical expenses and legal fees. 

Additional living expense, or loss of use, coverage helps cover the cost of any extra expenses you may face if forced to leave your property. This can include additional costs associated with food, transportation, pet care and boarding, and so on. 

It’s important to review the specific policy details to understand the extent of coverage. Certain policies focus on safeguarding personal belongings, while others focus on personal liability, so it’s up to you to decide which policy works best for you.

To learn more about renter’s insurance and how to obtain it, check out our student’s guide to renter’s insurance.

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.

Read Next: 10 Additional Costs to Consider When Looking for a Student Apartment Near UT Austin

Rambler model unit

Kitchen seating in Rambler’s model unit.

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 Texas will run you about $18 a month, equaling to about $216 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.

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.

Read Next: What Fees Should I Expect to Pay When I Sign a Lease at Rambler

Interior image of Rambler kitchen with furnishings and appliances.

Representative kitchen featuring Rambler’s standard finishes and appliances.

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!


Grace is a Digital Marketing Intern for Rambler. She is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Advertising and Public Relations.

July 12, 2023

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