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What insurance do I need if I rent?

Being a tenant doesn’t carry the same responsibility as owning a property. But if you’re renting, home insurance could help you protect your possessions. Find out everything you need to know in our helpful guide to rental cover.

Being a tenant doesn’t carry the same responsibility as owning a property. But if you’re renting, home insurance could help you protect your possessions. Find out everything you need to know in our helpful guide to rental cover.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
15 AUGUST 2023
6 min read
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Do I need home insurance if I rent? 

Home insurance on a rental property isn’t compulsory as a tenant, but there’s still an argument for having some cover in place. If you’re the victim of a break-in or there’s a disaster like a fire or flood, you’ll be very glad to have it.

To work out what you need, it’s important to understand what home insurance is and what it covers.

Home insurance is made up of two parts:

  • Buildings insurance – covers the bricks and mortar of your home. It includes permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms, as well as the central heating and water system.
  • Contents insurance – covers what’s inside and what you’ll take with you when you move. So that’s your furniture, clothes, jewellery, tech and so on. 

Do I need buildings insurance? 

Fortunately for you, buildings insurance is nearly always your landlord’s responsibility. As a tenant, you don’t own the property so don’t need to worry about protecting the structure of it. But it can be worth checking whether your landlord has buildings insurance in place. This could reassure you that if there’s a problem it will be covered by insurance.

While you’ll still be expected to look after your rental property, it’s down to your landlord to keep up with regular maintenance and fix any issues that come up with the plumbing or heating. That is, as long as the problem wasn’t caused by you. 

Do I need contents insurance as a tenant? 

Although you’re not responsible for the building itself, you are responsible for any personal belongings you keep inside the house. This makes having contents insurance essential for renters.

A good home contents insurance policy will cover your possessions if there’s a break in, or they’re damaged in a disaster like a flood or a fire.

Different types of renters’ home insurance 

The type of contents insurance you need will depend on the kind of accommodation you’re renting – and who with. These are your options:

Regular contents insurance  

If you rent a whole house or flat, you can buy a standard home contents-only policy to cover your personal possessions. It typically covers anything not physically attached to the building, including: 

  • Furniture  
  • Clothes 
  • Tech 
  • Jewellery 
  • Books 
  • Kitchen utensils 
  • Musical instruments 
  • Sports equipment. 

Tenants’ insurance 

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 communal spaces.  

Joint insurance 

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. 

Room-only insurance 

Another option is room-only contents insurance, but bear in mind that 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 like the lounge or kitchen.

Other types of insurance renters might need

Depending on your circumstances, you might want to think about adding these optional extras to your policy for an additional fee. That’s if they’re not already included as standard with your home contents cover:

Personal possessions cover  

While contents insurance covers your belongings inside the home, personal possessions cover could insure your belongings for damage or loss while you’re out and about.

Personal possessions insurance includes cover for items like your phone, handbag, watch, laptop, or jewellery.  

Accidental damage insurance  

Accidental damage insurance covers you for accidental disasters like wine spilt on the carpet or your toddler’s artwork on the curtains. It could mean you won’t lose your deposit. 

Accidental damage cover is often listed on tenants’ contents policies as tenants’ liability cover

High-value items insurance  

Home contents insurance policies normally limit the maximum amount you can claim for any one item. Single-item limits vary between insurance providers, but around £1,500 is the norm. 

If you have a high-value item that’s not covered by the single-item limit – for example, an engagement ring or pricey laptop – 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.  

What renting home insurance do I need as a student?

If you’re heading off to uni, 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. If you’re living in halls of residence, check if any contents cover is included in your accommodation cost.

How do I find the right rental home insurance?

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 deal you’re happy with.

Frequently asked questions

How much cover do I need for my home contents?

To determine the level of cover you need for your contents insurance, draw up a list of everything you own in your home.

You need to work out how much it would cost to replace all your items if they were stolen or 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 could affect the price of your home insurance at renewal time – even if you had nothing to do with the claim. That will also typically stay on your record for six years, even if you move house and take out a new insurance policy on your own.

Anna McEntee - Home, pet and travel insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Rachel Lacey - Insurance and money expert

Rachel’s a self-confessed money nerd who’s been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She spent 17 years writing for Moneywise, including a few years as Editor, and likes making complicated subjects like insurance, pensions, investing and tax, easy for people to understand.

Learn more about Rachel

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