Five Essential Tips for Navigating a Renters Insurance Claim

Tobias Patch
40 articles

Last updated on September 17, 2023
Published on December 13, 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes

Image of couple sitting on couch in apartment surrounded by water damage

Dealing with a renters insurance claim can be confusing and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. We put together five tips so you can understand how to file a renter’s insurance claim the right way. With just these basic tips, you’ll be able to avoid the most common pitfalls that slow down or prevent you from recovering what you’re owed under your policy.

1. Act Quickly

In every aspect of your claim, you’re better off moving fast.

When the loss happens, you need to document the damage or theft as soon as you can. If you wait to document those losses, you may lose access to precious evidence needed to support your claim.

Likewise, as soon as you think you may need to file a claim, you should notify your insurer about the loss and potential claim. If you wait too long to notify your insurer about your loss, you may violate terms in your policy that require giving your insurance company prompt notice of loss. And don’t forget that your insurer isn’t going to start the claim process until you’ve put it on notice about your claim. So the sooner you file your claim, the sooner you can recover what you’re owed.

Finally, respond promptly to any communications from your insurance company or your insurance company’s adjuster. When your insurance company sends you an email or leaves a voicemail asking for you to do something, it means the ball is your court to move your claim forward. The faster you can accurately respond to that communication, the faster you can put the onus back on your insurer to resolve your claim.

2. Document Everything

If your belongings are damaged or destroyed, take photos and videos of the affected belongings. Be sure that the photos and videos clearly show the damage. It’s also helpful to take both zoomed-in and zoomed-out photos and videos. The zoomed-in shots show the details of damage, and the zoomed-out shots give perspective and help to show how your belongings were damaged. For example, if your couch and TV were ruined by a leaking pipe in the apartment above you, you should definitely take a picture showing both your damaged belongings and the wet ceiling above it.

In the case of stolen goods, file a police report as soon as possible. The documentation from your police report will serve as important evidence for your claim and help to prove that the theft occurred. You should also take photos and videos of any evidence of the theft, such as broken locks or windows.

In either case, it’s important to start making a list of affected belongings. You can use this as the starting point for your inventory, which will go right into your Proof Of Loss.

3. Understand Your Coverage

Before you file your claim, make sure you understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. This will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road.

Renters insurance typically covers damage to your personal belongings caused by fire, smoke, lightning, theft, or other covered causes. It may also provide liability coverage in case someone is injured on your property and you are found legally responsible. It’s important to understand the details of your specific policy, including any exclusions or limitations, so you know what to expect when filing a claim. Two aspects of your policy that are both important and easy to understand: your deductible (how much you have to pay out of pocket before insurance provides coverage) and your coverage limits (the maximum amount your insurer will pay).

4. Create a Quality Inventory

If you’re making a renters insurance claim on your personal belongings (as most renters are), you need to create an inventory that documents each item for which you’re seeking reimbursement. The inventory needs to include descriptions of your items, their value, and any receipts or proof of ownership. For each item provide as much relevant information as possible. The more relevant information you provide your insurer, the easier it will be for them to process your claim.

Looking for a quick, easy, and free way to build your inventory? Try’s Brelly’s Claim Manager.

5. Pay Attention to the Details

In claims, details matter. If you tell your insurer that someone stole a “bicycle,” they don’t know if it’s a $100 used bicycle or a $1000 brand new performance bike. In that scenario, you can hardly blame your insurer for underpaying on your claim.

Other details matter too. Be careful that specifics like dates, dollar amounts, and addresses are consistent. Any inconsistency — especially if it suggests fraud — may impede your claim.

Remember, proving your claim is your obligation. Your insurance company doesn’t have any obligation to do your work for you. Unless you give them the details they need to fully understand the nature of your loss, they’re not going to know the right amount of money to pay you. So make your insurance company adjuster’s life — and your life — easier by giving them accurate, helpful details to quickly resolve your claim.


Follow these tips and you’re more likely to have a smoother process and a better recovery, all so you can get back to normal faster.

Tobias Patch
40 articles
About the author
Tobias is a seasoned contractor, adjuster, and technology zealot. In prior lives he worked for both insurance companies and policyholders, so he understands claims and the rebuilding process from all possible angles. His obsession with finding a better way to handle claims led him to found Brelly, where he serves as the CEO.