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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 UF 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.

bedroom in sweetwater's model unit

Representative image of bedrooms at Sweetwater, featuring a full-sized bed, pillow-top mattress and under-bed/stackable dresser drawers.

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 cover damage to the landlord’s property due to negligence from the tenant.

For example, if you forgot to blow out a candle and it caused your home to catch fire, you as a tenant would be liable for the damage caused to the property. However, if you are covered by a liability waiver program, the landlord is able to file a claim through this policy to cover the damages done to the property due to the fire.

Standard student housing leases require tenants to have a minimum of $100,000 of liability coverage. Most student housing apartments offer liability waiver programs to satisfy this tenant liability requirement.

While liability waiver programs waive resident liability for up to $100,000, these programs are not the same thing as renter’s insurance. The resident is not an insured under the waiver and therefore will not receive any proof of coverage nor any coverage for personal belongings.

The landlord is the named insured, and the resident’s unit/bed is added under their program to protect the landlord from property damage caused by resident negligence.

Damages covered by liability waiver (landlord insurance) programs typically include fire, water discharge, and pipe leaks, while damages not covered include theft, burglary, bodily injury, personal injury, acts of nature, criminal acts, or maintenance issues.

Read Next: 10 Additional Costs to Consider When Looking for an Apartment near UF

bathroom in sweetwater'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 2023 average renter’s insurance in the state of Florida 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 vary depending on the property management company or landlord. Typically, these range from around $10 to $25 per resident, per month. At Sweetwater, our liability waiver program is $12.95 per resident, per month.

While liability waiver programs can cost slightly less than renter’s insurance, you will not receive coverage for your personal property under these programs.

What are the differences between the two?

The biggest difference between renter’s insurance and landlord’s insurance lies in the parties they protect and the types of coverage provided.

Renter’s insurance protects you, the tenant, by offering protection for personal property, liability and additional living expenses.

On the other hand, liability waiver programs are designed to protect the property owner or landlord. Most landlord insurance options only waive resident liability up to $100,000. The resident has waived liability, but is not the named insured under the policy; the property owner or landlord is the named insured. The renter’s personal property and additional living expenses are not covered.

Overall, renter’s insurance typically covers personal property, liability and additional living expenses of the tenant, while liability waiver programs are a form of landlord insurance, and will only cover damages to the property that were directly caused by the resident neglect for covered perils.

Read Next: What Are the Most Affordable Units at Sweetwater?

Model unit at Sweetwater

Sweetwater’s Liability Waiver Program: Wilson Peak

At Sweetwater, if you choose not to purchase renter’s insurance, you are automatically enrolled in Wilson Peak, our liability waiver program. You will be charged a fee of $12.95 per month, which you will see in your resident portal.

Wilson Peak waives resident liability for up to $100,000. It is not intended to replace a renter’s insurance policy; it only provides the minimum amount of resident liability coverage as required by the lease agreement.

Under Wilson Peak, the resident is not named insured; the landlord is insured through the policy for the unit/bed of the resident.

Perils covered under Wilson Peak include, but are not limited to, fire, water discharge, and pipe leaks. Perils not covered under Wilson Peak include, but are not limited to, theft, burglary, bodily injury, personal injury, acts of nature, criminal acts, or maintenance issues.

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 Sweetwater. She is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Advertising and Public Relations.

July 12, 2023

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