Water Damage: What Your Renters Policy Does (and Doesn't) Cover
A renters insurance policy won't cover water that originates from outside the apartment. It might, however, cover water originating from inside the building, as long as the damage was sudden and accidental.
Renters insurance doesn't cover flood damage.
For full coverage for flood-related damage, you should look into a flood insurance policy.
Renters insurance does cover water originating from inside the building.
Let's look more closely at how your policy would handle the following events:
If your toilet overflows, your policy may cover the damage. Your policy will have a separate limit for any damage caused by water back-up through sewers or drains. Water back-up coverage only applies if the back-up is not caused by negligence, flooding, or a sump pump.
Accidental Discharge or Overflow of Steam
If your sprinkler system malfunctions and drips water right onto your television, you may be covered. A renters insurance policy covers the accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or sprinkler system. It may also cover overflow of water from household appliances, like your washing machine. It does not, however, cover damage to the malfunctioning systems themselves.
Sudden and Accidental Tearing Apart, Cracking, Burning, or Bulging of a Pipe
If the pipes servicing your hot water heating system or sprinkler system suddenly crack, they could leak water into your apartment. A leak in an air conditioning unit could also cause problems. Your renters insurance policy will cover the damage to your personal property if those systems tear, crack, burn, or bulge.
If your pipes freeze, resulting in damage to your belongings, your renters insurance will usually cover the damage. Just note that the damage to the pipes themselves would be covered by your landlord's insurance policy, not yours. This coverage applies to your plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and sprinkler systems, as well as your household appliances.
Coverage only applies if you made a reasonable effort to maintain heat in your apartment to prevent the pipes from freezing.