What insurance do I need if I rent?

Renting your home doesn’t carry the same responsibility as owning it, but you may still need some insurance to protect your possessions. Find out what you need to know with our guide.

Renting your home doesn’t carry the same responsibility as owning it, but you may still need some insurance to protect your possessions. Find out what you need to know with our guide.

Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
minute read
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Last Updated 26 SEPTEMBER 2022

Do I need home insurance if I rent? 

Home insurance isn’t compulsory if you rent your home. But there is still an argument for having some cover in place, particularly if you’re the victim of a break in or there’s a disaster like a fire or flood.

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, and permanent fixtures and fittings like fitted kitchens or bathrooms
  • Contents insurance covers what’s inside and what you’d take with you when you move. So that’s your furniture, clothes, jewellery, tech and so on. 

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, fixtures and fittings as well as the central heating and water system in the event of damage from disasters like storms, fire or flooding.

You’ll be expected to look after your rental property, but it’s your landlord’s responsibility to keep up with regular maintenance and fix 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 your own belongings that make the property feel like home.

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.

This includes everything from any furniture that’s yours, though to your clothes, tech, jewellery, books, musical instruments or sporting equipment.

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 your personal possessions.

f 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. This type of contents cover may be more expensive because there’s a greater risk of theft with more people coming in and out of the building.

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 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.

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 for a small fee.

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. This covers you for accidental disasters like wine spilt on the carpet or your toddler’s artwork on the curtains and should mean 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 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 its covered for its full value. 

You’ll need to pay a little extra to extend your cover, but it’s worth it to know your most valuable possessions are properly insured.

For any high value item, it’s always a good idea to keep receipts or valuation certificates and take photos. This is because you may need to provide evidence in the event of a claim.

What 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 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 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 will 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.

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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