Tenants insurance, also known as rental contents insurance, is a type of home contents insurance for those renting a property from someone else. These types of policy cover your possessions from theft as well as damage caused by storms, floods, fire, subsidence, water leaks, and burst pipes. There are some policies that even cover the cost of finding another place to stay whilst your home undergoes repairs after a flood or fire.
Our handy guide will give you the rundown on what you need to consider when looking for a tenants contents insurance policy.
Why do renters not need buildings insurance, and only contents insurance?
There are three types of home insurance policy:
Buildings insurance policies cover the building structure as well as any permanent fixtures and fittings. These can include fitted kitchens, toilets and baths. Other buildings on your property may also be included (garages or sheds, for example).
Contents insurance policies cover the remaining possessions in your home that aren’t part of the building structure or fixtures. This will include small items such as televisions and tablets, up to larger items like furniture and appliances. Clothing and jewellery are also included.
Combined buildings and contents insurance policies include both forms of home insurance cover under one policy.
When you rent a property, the building does not belong to you, and thus if anything happens to the building it’s the building owner (i.e. landlord) who is responsible for it. So tenants only need to take out a contents insurance policy to cover their possessions in the event of theft or damage.
Should students get tenants contents insurance?
Students can get tenants contents insurance policies, however students are considered to be a higher risk tenant than the average tenant. This means students will face higher premiums, as well as having less choice when it comes to the kinds of policies they can choose from.
There are some companies that offer tenants contents insurance policies specifically for students, so it could be worth looking into those.
Will I be covered under my landlord’s insurance policy?
It’s unlikely that your possessions will be covered under your landlord’s home insurance policy. Some landlords do have contents insurance cover on the properties they rent out, but those policies tend to cover very specific items that the landlord themselves own - such as the furniture, curtains, carpets, etc.
These policies won’t cover your clothes, or gadgets such as your laptop or smartphone - so you should still look to get yourself tenants content insurance cover even if your landlord has some form of contents insurance policy on the property.
Your landlord is unlikely to have any accidental damage cover on their possessions within the property, so you may have to forfeit your deposit if you accidentally damage anything during your tenancy.
If you’re lucky, your landlord’s policy will cover the cost of alternative accommodation in the event that you need to live somewhere else whilst repairs are being carried out (e.g. in the event of a flood or fire etc.).
Either way, it’s best to speak to your landlord, letting agent or housing association to find out what kind of insurance cover is already in place on your property before you shop around to find your own cover.
How much cover do I need?
Quite simply: your policy needs to cover the cost of replacing all of your belongings. You need to be very careful not to underinsure your possessions or there’s little point having a contents insurance policy in the first place. On the other hand, you don’t want to overestimate the value of your possessions or you’ll end up paying over the odds for cover you don’t actually need.
Be sure to keep a tab on the value of all your possessions, especially high value items like jewellery or watches. Many policies have a limit on the value that a single item can be worth, called a ‘single item limit’. This limit for most insurers is around £1500, and any item worth more than that needs to be specified individually on your policy in order for it to be covered.
What kind of accidental damage cover can I get?
Generally there are two forms of accidental damage cover that tenants can get as part of their home insurance.
The basic form of accidental damage coverage will usually cover damage to tech appliances such as your computer, TV, or games console.
Full accidental damage cover will also give you coverage in the event that you accidentally spill wine or paint on your sofa etc.
Your policy wording will specify what comes as standard with your insurance package. Anything not included can usually be added as an add-on to your insurance policy.
Does tenants contents insurance provide cover for items I take outside my home?
It’s unlikely that your policy will cover the possessions that you take outside of your home off-the-bat, so you’ll typically have to add this kind of cover to your policy. This form of cover is sometimes referred to as ‘personal belongings’ or ‘personal possessions’ cover.
Check your policy wording to see what cover is included as standard, and then calculate what you may need to include as an add-on or as a separate policy depending on your needs.
What tenants contents insurance should I get if I live in a shared house?
Things get a little cloudy when it comes to insuring the items in a shared property. Some insurers will flat-out refuse to cover people who live in shared accommodation. In other cases they may have more exclusions to your policy, especially if your bedroom doesn’t have a lock on it.
It’s still possible to find the cover that you require, however you’ll need to dig around a bit more to find the right insurer and expect to pay a bit more for your policy.
Good to know
We recommend keeping receipts for high-value items as proof of purchase for insurers as well as taking photographs. This makes the whole process much easier should you need to make a claim.
Unfortunately, if you are subjected to a burglary, many insurers will only pay out if there is a sign of a forced entry. This means that if you didn’t shut the door properly, or there’s a lock on your bedroom door which you don’t always use, an insurer isn’t obligated to cover the loss.
It’s possible to purchase home insurance that actually extends to outside your house, which can include cover for possessions like handbags, smart phones or bicycles. Your premium will cost more but if you’re one of the many Brits who’s prone to leaving phones on public transport this can be a real money saver in the long run.
Home insurance will also cover you should a visitor have an accident in your home.