Guide to tenants' insurance
- Tenants' insurance is essentially the same as home contents cover
- Renters should not need to worry about buildings insurance - that's down to the landlord
- If you're in a shared property your insurer will need to know the details
Although renters need some specific consideration, tenants' insurance is essentially the same product as home contents insurance and you search for it - and buy it - in much the same way.
Whether it's called tenants' insurance or contents insurance, a policy should offer protection for your personal items that are not fixed to your home, but not for the property's structure, nor its permanent fixtures and fittings.
To cover such permanent fixtures and fittings you'd need buildings insurance, but if you're a tenant you almost certainly don't need it - it should be the responsibility of the landlord.
If you follow the link above to enter our quotes process you'll be asked whether you're renting - if so, you'll just compare contents insurance and can avoid the extra questions needed to arrange buildings cover.
To help return the most appropriate quotes to you, you'll also be asked whether you're living in a housing association, you're a private tenant or a council tenant.
If you're a private or council tenant you'll be asked whether the property is furnished or unfurnished - essentially, whether all or most of the furniture in the property belongs to the landlord (furnished) or the tenant(s).
Who is tenants' insurance suitable for?
Tenants’ insurance is available for rented properties including self-contained and shared flats and houses.
Student living arrangements can be somewhat unique, but if you're a student living in rented accommodation away from home you may be able to find the cover you need by comparing contents insurance through Gocompare.com.
Bear in mind that the number of insurers who will quote for you may be more limited than for non-students, particularly if you're living in shared accommodation.
If you are sharing and/or living in a halls of residence, you may need to think about a dedicated student insurance policy.
Even if you're not a student but live in a shared house things can be a little more complicated - some insurers will refuse cover for shared accommodation or add extra exclusions, especially if bedrooms don't have their own locks.
But always make clear to insurers the living arrangements in your shared property or - in the event of a claim - your policy is likely to be invalid.
Why do tenants need insurance?
If you're renting an unfurnished property then tenants' insurance is necessary if you want to protect your furnishings and other personal possessions against insured risks such as flood, fire and theft.
Even if you’ve rented the property fully or partly furnished and your landlord has taken out additional cover for the furnishings within the property, it’s unlikely that their policy will provide cover for your personal belongings.
Did you know...?
- Some insurance companies will provide cover for accidental damage to your landlord’s possessions, such as carpets
For example, jewellery, bicycles, handheld gadgets, sports equipment, electrical appliances, laptops and computer equipment, games consoles, musical instruments, CDs, DVDs, furniture, frozen food or clothing.
Although a good quality tenants’ insurance policy won’t make events such as fire, theft or flooding any less stressful or upsetting, if you do need to make a claim it will help to ease financial worries and provide valuable peace of mind that you can get the items replaced.
While it's unlikely that you need to concern yourself with buildings insurance, we recommend that you check the level of cover your landlord has.
If you've rented the property via a letting agency then its agents may be able to advise you on behalf of your landlord.
How can I work out how much cover I need?
While estimating this is a simple matter, it can be time consuming and involve a little bit of effort... unless you choose to try our simple-to-use contents calculator!
Otherwise, the typical advice is to grab a pen and paper and walk from room to room, adding up the value (new for old) of each item in your house.
If you need more guidance, try our dedicated article on how to estimate how much contents insurance you need.
Remember that your insurer will only pay out up to the sum insured, regardless of whether you realise afterwards that your belongings were worth a lot more than you originally calculated.
Also, most insurance companies will set a maximum limit per item, usually around £1,500.
If you do have items with a higher value - such as jewellery or watches, a widescreen TV, bicycle or computer equipment - you'll need to list these items separately on the policy.
What cover's available?
Typically a tenants’ insurance policy will protect your possessions against risks such as fire, theft, flooding, storm damage and escape of water. Other cover options may include:
Did you know...?
- ‘New for old’ policies will replace your items with brand new ones, whereas ‘wear and tear’ policies will deduct a percentage of the item’s cost for depreciation
- Home emergency cover
- Legal expenses cover
- Accidental damage cover
- Personal possessions cover for items taken out of the home (such as bicycles, jewellery or handheld gadgets)
- Protection for frozen food in case there's a disruption to a power supply
Some insurance companies will also provide cover for accidental damage to your landlord’s possessions, such as carpets.
When you compare tenants’ insurance policies check the type of cover offered by the insurer for replacement items.
‘New for old’ policies will replace your items with brand new ones, whereas ‘wear and tear’ policies will deduct a percentage of the item’s cost for depreciation.
Always check the policy small print to see exactly what is - and isn’t - covered. That way, you can be sure you're getting a sufficient level of cover for your needs.
When you receive your policy documentation check that the details are correct and, if you have any queries or concerns, contact your insurer at the earliest opportunity.
What's an excess?
An excess is the contribution you agree to pay towards any claim. The excess is split into two different types, compulsory excess and voluntary excess.
This is the amount your insurance company requires that you pay towards any claim made on your policy. Normally it's deducted from the settlement made to you.
This is the amount you agree to pay towards the claim in addition to the compulsory excess. You agree this at the start of the policy and, typically, the higher the excess the lower your premium is likely to be.
What are policy exclusions?
Insurance companies won’t pay out for certain risks or some types of loss or damage; for example, where it results from, or is in connection with, terrorism.
These will be clearly set out in the terms of the policy and are known as ‘exclusions’. Other things that may affect or invalidate a claim you make are:
- Not using your burglar alarm when you’ve told your insurance company you have one
- Not reporting a burglary or theft to the police and not getting a crime reference number
- Leaving the property unoccupied for more than 30 days
- Failing to use key-operated locks on windows when you are away from the property
- Being burgled where there's no forced entry into your property (eg a door or window has been left open)
Always remember that if the information you give to your insurer is not correct, it could invalidate your policy.
How to save money on tenants’ insurance
You won't be surprised to hear that our top tip for finding the right cover at the right price is to shop around.
Using a comparison site allows you to compare multiple policies in one quick and easy search, and Gocompare.com is dedicated to helping you compare product features along with price.
You should never compromise on the level of cover you need, but read our article for more money-saving tips on home insurance and you might be able to cut the cost of your premium.
By Sean Davies