Just enrolled with Rhino? Welcome! We’ll break down the basics of security deposit insurance and Rhino’s claim process so you understand how it works for renters and landlords.  Security deposit insurance is an alternative to a security deposit. Instead of paying a cash security deposit directly to your property manager or landlord directly, you purchase an inexpensive insurance policy. This insurance policy protects your landlord or property manager against excessive wear-and-tear or unpaid rent you may cause during your lease, the exact same way a security deposit would. The best part: You pay much less upfront and your money doesn’t sit unused in an escrow account until after you move out. While you won’t get your insurance policy premiums refunded at the end of your lease, you have much more cash on hand to save or use for other move-in costs. If you cause any excessive wear-and-tear, or miss a rent payment during your lease, you’ll have to pay for it through Rhino’s claim process. (Just like the money that would be taken out of a traditional deposit.) But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it!

How does the Rhino claims process work? 

Rhino’s claim process has been designed to provide transparency. When a landlord files a claim against you, you’ll have a full understanding as to what the claim is for (what type of excessive wear-and-tear, unpaid rent, etc.). One of Rhino’s Claims Specialists is assigned to analyze your claim and will thoroughly investigate to ensure that the claim is handled properly. This gives you plenty of opportunity to present information you think is important to resolving the claim. 

There are typically three cases in which a claim will be filed: 

  • If a renter has caused excessive wear-and-tear to their rental  

  • If a rent payment is at least 10 days late

  • If a renter breaks their lease 

When a landlord files a claim against a renter’s Rhino policy, our in-house Claims Specialists follow a process to ensure that both parties are represented fairly. This process is designed so that you can provide any information you think is material to the handling of the claim based on your experience as the renter. Here’s what happens: 

  1. First, when submitting a claim a property manager or landlord is always asked to include a copy of the lease, ledger, invoices, photos and any other supporting documentation that backs up their claim. 

  2. Then our Claim Specialists process the claim by reviewing the renter’s policy and coverage, as well as the documentation provided.

  3. An email is sent to the renter to notify them that a claim has been filed on their policy and asks for any documentation/information the renter would like to share to help understand the claim more thoroughly.

  4. The Claims Specialist then evaluates the claim, by reviewing and considering all of the documentation provided from both the landlord and renter. 

  5. If the claim is approved, Rhino will pay out the claim to the landlord up to the coverage limit. 

  6. The renter will then be contacted by one of Rhino’s Recovery Specialists to set up a flexible repayment plan. 

There are instances in which claims are not approved, because the renter was able to provide evidence that they did not cause excessive wear-and-tear or paid their rent on time. Rhino renters also maintain their right to take their disagreement with their landlord to Small Claims Court or Housing Court. However, Rhino takes pride in ensuring that our claims experience is thorough and fair to both landlords and renters. 

Normal vs. excessive wear-and-tear 

By law, landlords are not allowed to use security deposits for any physical property damage that is considered “normal wear-and-tear.” It can be tricky to figure what normal wear-and-tear looks like versus excessive wear-and-tear, which you can be charged for. Compare these two sets of examples, and the distinction will likely become clearer to you. 

Chart listing examples of normal wear-and-tear Chart listing examples of excessive wear-and-tear

When moving into a new rental it's important to make sure that you do a move-in walkthrough to document any damage that was present when you moved in. 

Fortunately for Rhino renters, our Claims Specialists are able to identify differences between excessive wear-and-tear and normal wear-and-tear. For example, when Rhino renter Tammy P. from Palmyra, VA had a $2,700 claim for excessive wear-and-tear filed on her Rhino policy. During the claims process, Tammy was able to provide photos of uninhabitable living conditions, all taken during her move-in. She was able to prove that she was not responsible for the damage. As a result, she did not have to pay $2,700 after a thorough analysis from one of Rhino’s Claims Specialists. This was resolved in just a matter of days.*

How to work with Rhino’s Claims Specialists

If you have a claim filed against you or are in the process of settling a claim, keep in mind that you can always share more details you think would be helpful in handling the claim. Our Claims Specialists strongly encourage renters to provide any documentation that they believe will be helpful in evaluating the claim. 

Here are five reasons you might respond to a claim through Rhino:

  • If living conditions provided by the property manager are uninhabitable

  • If damage incurred was caused by poor rental maintenance from the property manager

  • If damage incurred was not directly caused by you, the renter

  • If damage incurred is normal wear-and-tear 

  • If you have proof that your rent has been paid or reimbursed 

Rhino renter Crystal H., responded when her property manager filed a claim for $6,000 against her Rhino policy, for a pipe that burst in the apartment after she had moved out. Rhino Claims Specialists determined the property manager’s property insurance was responsible for coverage of the incident and that she was not.

Crystal replied to an email from one of Rhino Claims Specialists, stating that the damage had occurred after her move-out and providing evidence of the timeline. By providing documentation of her moving out, she was able to give the Claims Specialist what they needed to examine the claim accurately.*

Rhino renter sitting on the floor using a laptop

How do I pay a Rhino claim?

If after our investigation a claim is approved, then the landlord will be paid for the loss up to the coverage limit. You are only responsible to Rhino for claims paid out up to the coverage limit.   

Once the claim has been paid to the landlord, the renter is then contacted by one of Rhino’s Recovery Specialists. You have the option of setting up a flexible payment plan or paying the claim in full. 

Rhino renter Sergey S. found the process to be easy and transparent, having still preferred paying a claim vs forking over the large security deposit when signing his lease. His landlord filed a claim when he missed a few electricity bills that were to be paid through his landlord.  He found the claim to be accurate, and worked with Rhino to pay the claim off in full. 

About the process, Sergey S. said, “Rhino Recovery Specialists were extremely positive and friendly, and advised me on every step of the way, sharing information and constantly advising of the status of my claim. While I must admit that it was lengthy, I am incredibly happy with Rhino.”*

At Rhino, we recognize that paying bills is never fun. We hope this blog has provided some insight into our thorough process, so that you only pay what you owe for excessive wear-and-tear or unpaid rent. If a claim has been filed against you or you have any questions about the claims process, please feel free to contact us via chat, phone, or email. One of our Specialists will be in touch with you shortly. 

*This is just one example of a real-life Rhino renter’s experience, this is not a guarantee of claims outcomes. 

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KT Heins-Nagamoto

KT Heins-Nagamoto is a senior brand writer at Rhino. They advocate for security deposit alternatives and renter rights in everything they write.