Like homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance protects your property against several types of losses like damage from a fire or theft. Renter’s insurance also covers injury or damage stemming from your negligence or that of your family members.

There are several types of homeowner’s insurance policies sold in Wisconsin. They vary according to coverage in the policy and type of dwelling being insured. HOMEOWNER’S FORM 4 (HO4) is especially designed for renters. It covers your personal property for several different types of damage including theft, smoke, vandalism, fire, explosion, falling objects, building collapse, and rupture of steam or hot water systems. There is no coverage for the dwelling as that is the owner’s responsibility and should not be insured by the renter.


The main factor to consider in determining how much insurance to buy is the actual value of your belongings. This involves establishing “actual cash value” of all your possessions.

Actual cash value is usually determined by taking the replacement cost of the property when new and subtracting the amount of depreciation that has taken place. For example, a piece of furniture that cost $500 to replace may have a reasonable “life” of 20 years. If this furniture is destroyed by fire after 10 years, its actual cash value at the time of loss is calculated as $250.


Replacement cost coverage on contents may be obtained for an additional premium. Replacement cost coverage pays for your losses on the basis of how much it would cost to replace or repair the item at current costs without deduction for depreciation.

The easiest way to determine value is to make a complete inventory of your belongings and try to determine their value at the time of inventory. Reinventory and reevaluation of your belongings should be done annually.

Some property, such as art objects and antiques, do not lose value and should be scheduled separately on your policy. Other types of property are covered on a limited basis only because they are especially susceptible to loss. These include guns, cash, jewelry, and stamp and coin collections. All homeowner’s policies can be modified at additional cost to protect you against such losses. You may want to discuss these coverage and policy issues with your agent.