What insurance do I need if I rent?

Home ownership has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years, especially among young adults. Only 25% of 25 to 29 year-olds now own their own place. If you’re one of the majority who rent, you’ll want to know what insurance you need. This is our guide to what you need to know.

Home ownership has fallen dramatically in the past 20 years, especially among young adults. Only 25% of 25 to 29 year-olds now own their own place. If you’re one of the majority who rent, you’ll want to know what insurance you need. This is our guide to what you need to know.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
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Posted 21 FEBRUARY 2020 Last Updated 4 APRIL 2022

Do I need home insurance if I rent? 

There are two main types of home insurance to consider: buildings insurance and contents insurance. Buildings insurance covers the bricks and mortar of your home, and permanent fixtures and fittings, while contents insurance covers what’s inside.

Do I need buildings insurance if I rent? 

Fortunately for you, buildings insurance is nearly always your landlord’s responsibility. Buildings insurance covers the structure of the building, the exterior, fixtures and fittings, central heating and water system – everything that the building owner is responsible for. It’s up to your landlord to protect their property from damage due to storms, fire or flooding, for example.

Although you’ll be expected to keep your rented home in reasonably good shape, as per your tenancy agreement, your landlord is responsible for keeping up with regular maintenance and fixing any issues that come up with the plumbing or heating – so long as the problem wasn’t caused by you, that is.

Do I need contents insurance if I rent? 

So, the bricks and mortar are taken care of, but what about everything inside? When you’re renting, it’s the belongings inside that really make a home. And you’re responsible for getting the right insurance to cover your furniture, electrical items, white goods and any other items of personal property, like clothing, books and jewellery. 

A good home contents insurance policy is there to cover your personal possessions in case they’re stolen or damaged in a fire or flood.

Home contents insurance for renters

If you rent out a whole house or flat, you can buy a standard home contents only policy to cover all your belongings inside.

If you share a house with other tenants, or you’re a lodger renting a room, you’ll need tenants’ contents insurance. Also known as contents cover for shared occupancy, it lets you cover just your own possessions, whether they’re in your room or out in communal spaces. This type of contents cover may be more expensive because, with more people potentially going in and out of your home, you’ll be viewed by insurance providers as a greater risk.

If you share a house with people you really trust, you may be able to save money by having a joint contents insurance policy for the whole home. This is a risk, though, as any claims your housemates make will go on your record and drive up your premiums come renewal time.

Another option is room-only contents insurance, but bear in mind your provider may require you to install a lock on the door and you won’t be covered for any items left in communal areas.

Personal possessions cover for renters 

Your contents insurance will cover you for damage or loss of personal items inside your home, but are you covered if you take them outside the home? 

Check your policy to see if you have personal possessions insurance. This will cover your belongings, such as your phone, watch, laptop, or jewellery, if they’re lost or stolen while you’re out and about. It’s sometimes included in your home contents cover but, if not, you can normally add it to your policy.

Accidental damage insurance for renters 

If you’re a tenant in someone else’s property, it can be a good idea to get accidental damage insurance. Spilled wine on carpets, some accidental toddler artwork on the curtains – these things happen – and if you’re covered for items to be repaired or replaced, you won’t lose your deposit. 

Accidental damage cover may not be included as standard on your home contents policy, so check to make sure. If it’s not, you’ll normally be able to add it as an extra. It’s often listed on tenants’ contents policies as tenant’s liability cover.

Insuring high-value items 

Home contents insurance policies will detail the maximum amount you can claim for one single item (typically £1,500) and the total amount you can claim if, for example, all your belongings are destroyed in a fire. You’ll want to make sure that the level of cover is enough to protect all your belongings. 

If you have a high-value item that’s not covered by the single item limit, you’ll need to declare it to your insurance provider. They’ll list it separately on your policy to ensure it’s covered for its full value. 

High-value items may include: 

  • Expensive jewellery and watches
  • Laptops, mobile phones or computer equipment
  • Camera equipment 

Make sure you keep the receipts for any high-value items, as you may need to provide them if you make a claim.

What insurance do I need as a student? 

If you’re heading to uni for the first time, you may need to protect your belongings with student contents insurance. Before you compare policies, it’s worth checking whether you’re covered by your parents’ home insurance policy or, if you’re living in halls of residence, if any contents cover is included in your accommodation cost.

How do I find the right insurance for my rented home?

You need to make sure you have the right cover for your living situation. That’s where we can help. Compare home insurance with us to find a great-value deal.

Frequently asked questions

How much cover do I need for my home contents?

It’s a good idea to make a list of everything you want covered by your contents insurance to help you decide how much cover you need.

You need to work out how much it would cost to replace all your items if they were destroyed in a flood or fire. You also need to note the value of your most expensive items, to make sure they’re covered by the single-item limit of your policy.

For more information, read our guide on how to estimate the value of your home contents.

Is furniture covered by my landlord’s home insurance?

If you’re renting a furnished flat or house, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to arrange contents insurance for their belongings. It’s unlikely that any contents insurance they have will extend to your personal items and belongings – you’ll need to arrange that yourself. 

If you’re worried about causing accidental damage to your landlord’s furniture or fixings, consider adding tenants’ liability cover to your policy if it’s not already included.

Should I get a joint contents policy with my housemates?

Think carefully before you take out an insurance policy with your housemates. Although it could save you money, it may end up more trouble than it’s worth. If any of your housemates make a claim, it will affect the price of your home insurance at renewal time – even if you had nothing to do with the claim. And that claim will typically stay on your record for six years, even if you move house and take out a new insurance policy on your own.

Do I need to get contents insurance as a tenant?

It’s not a legal requirement, but it’s a good idea. Imagine what you’d do if your possessions were stolen, or damaged beyond repair in a flood or fire? Without contents insurance, you’d have to pay to replace them yourself.

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