Tenants’ insurance

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What is tenants’ insurance?

Tenants’ insurance, or rental contents insurance cover, is a form of home contents for those renting a property. It protects your possessions against theft and damage due to fire, flood, storms, subsidence, burst pipes and water leaks. Some polices may also cover alternative accommodation, paying for a place to stay during repairs to the property after a fire or flood.

Do I need home insurance as a tenant?

While it’s not a legal requirement, if you want to protect your belongings as a renter, tenants’ insurance can cover you if the unexpected happens. If something is stolen or broken, you can claim on your insurance to recover the cost of replacements.

Tenants’ insurance focuses on covering home contents, rather than buildings insurance.

Why do renters only need contents insurance, not buildings insurance?

There are three main types of home insurance:

  • Buildings insurance - covers the structure of the building plus permanent fixtures, such as baths, toilets and fitted kitchens. It might also include other buildings, such as sheds and garages.
  • Contents insurance - covers all the possessions in your home, including non-built in appliances, furniture, clothes, jewellery, televisions and tablets.
  • Combined buildings and contents insurance - combines both in a single insurance policy.

When you’re renting your home, the building isn’t yours. If a wall falls down it’s the landlord’s responsibility to put it back up. You just need to worry about your possessions – so you only need home contents insurance if you’re a tenant.

What does tenants’ insurance cover?

There are a variety of inclusions with tenants’ insurance, as well as a number of additions you can get as extra.

Normally, you can get cover for the following events:

  • Theft – if your home is broken into and your possessions stolen, you can claim for their value.
  • Fire – if there’s a fire at your home and your belongings are damaged, you can recover the costs to replace them.
  • Burst pipes and water leaks – if your home suffers water damage from a burst pipe or another form of leak, you can claim for the cost of your possessions.
  • Storms – with storms in recent years dealing significant damage to our homes, storm cover can help you recover the costs of damaged contents.
  • Flooding – covers the value of your belongings in the event of flood damage.
  • Subsidence – this is when the ground beneath your house shifts or sinks, causing damage to the building's foundations.

What isn’t covered by tenants’ insurance policy?

You’ll typically find a range of exclusions on your tenants’ insurance policy. Renters should keep the following in mind:

  • Wear and tear – contents which are damaged over time, through general wear and tear, aren’t usually covered.
  • Theft and unforced entry – if you’re the victim of a burglary, but there are no signs of forced or violent entry to your home, you will likely find your claim is rejected.
  • High-value items – if you have belongings which exceed your standard policy’s single-item value limit, you’ll need to take out extra cover to protect the item against theft and damage. Policies found through Compare the Market have a single article limit of up to £1,500.
  • Possessions outside the home – while some home insurance policies will cover possessions taken outside the home, others don’t. You can often find significant limits for items taken away from home, so check your policy documents carefully, and arrange any additional cover, if necessary.
  • Business contents – this is a separate type of insurance. If you use your home as a place of work, any contents which apply to your business will need to be covered by business contents insurance. For example, work laptops and other equipment.
  • Unoccupied home insurance – If you leave your home unoccupied for an extended period, perhaps because you’ve moved out, but are waiting for your tenancy to end, or even a holiday of a certain length, a standard tenants’ insurance policy won’t normally cover you.

How much does tenants’ contents insurance cost?

While contents insurance for renters varies, people who used Compare the Market found cover for an average of £97**.

Of course, there are many factors which can affect this. The level of cover you’re looking for, which includes the estimated value of your possessions, is a significant part of calculating your premiums. Other things that can affect the cost include where you live. If you’re in an area with a higher crime rate, or somewhere that’s vulnerable to flooding, you may find that cover is more expensive.

**On average, renters received a contents insurance quote of £96.95, based on Compare the Market data between 1 December 2019 and 1 March 2020.

Frequently asked questions

Can students get renters’ contents insurance?

Tenant insurance policies will provide cover for students, but they tend to be considered a higher risk than other types of tenants. They’re likely to have a more limited choice of policies and might face higher premiums too. That said, there are insurance policies especially for students, so it’s worth having a look at those.

Find out more: Student home insurance.

Will my landlord’s insurance cover me?

Some landlords will have contents insurance on the property you rent – but it will usually protect only their possessions, such as the furniture, carpets and curtains. It won’t provide any cover for your smart phone, laptop or clothes. You should still think about home contents insurance for tenants to protect your own belongings.

It’s unlikely that your landlord will have accidental damage cover on their contents insurance, so they may use your deposit to cover the cost of any accidental damage caused during your tenancy.

Your landlord’s insurance may include alternative accommodation cover – cover that will put you up elsewhere if your accommodation can’t be lived in while repairs are carried out after a fire, flood or other insured event. 

You can find out what insurance is in place from your landlord, letting agent or housing association.

How do I work out how much cover I need?

You need to estimate how much it would cost you to replace all your own belongings. Be careful not to underinsure your contents (don’t forget to include any valuable jewellery or watches). But don’t overestimate as you could end up paying for extra cover that you don’t actually need. When getting a quote with us you can use our contents calculator tool which will help you estimate the value of your possessions.

Most policies will have a maximum limit that any single item can be worth before you need to specify it individually on the policy. Referred to as a single item limit, it’s often set at around £1,500 but could be lower or higher depending on the policy you take out.

Can I get insurance for accidental damage?

Typically, there are two levels available to you with home insurance for tenants:

  • The  basic level of accidental damage cover typically covers damage to audio visual equipment, such as your TV, games console or PC.
  • Full accidental damage cover typically covers you for accidents like spilling paint or wine on your sofa.

Check your policy details to see if any of this cover comes as standard. If it doesn’t, you might like to include it as an add-on to your policy. 

Does tenants’ contents insurance cover the possessions I take outside my home?

Some policies will cover your possessions outside the home – but usually you’ll need to add this. Cover for items outside your home is often called “Personal possessions” or “Personal belongings”. You can check your policy to see if this cover is included as standard or needs to be added (but you may need to pay extra). 

What about renters’ insurance if I live in a shared house?

Sharing a property can make things a little more complicated. Some contents insurance providers may refuse a tenant who lives in shared accommodation, or they might exclude more items, especially if bedroom doors don’t have their own locks. You should still be able to find the cover you need – but your choice of insurance provider might be a little more limited.

Don’t be tempted to avoid telling your insurance provider about sharing arrangements, as you may invalidate your policy if you make a claim.

Find out more: Can I get contents insurance for my room only?

What is tenants’ liability insurance?

Tenants’ liability insurance covers you against common issues that may cause you to lose your security deposit. This could include things like accidental damage, but doesn’t normally cover general wear and tear. This isn’t typically covered by a normal home insurance policy for renters, so you may need to get a separate policy to cover this.

How do I get a good deal on renters’ contents insurance?

Start here and compare tenants’ contents insurance now. Give us a few details and our comparison page will show you a range of suitable policies, along with the price and key features.