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What home insurance do I need if I rent?

Find out why you need insurance if you’re renting and what type of cover will suit your rental situation best.

GoCompare author
Updated 15 December 2021  | 3 mins read

Do I need to take out buildings insurance if I rent?

If you’re renting a home or accommodation, buildings insurance will almost always be your landlord’s responsibility. It’s up to them to make sure the property’s kept in good condition.

This means also making sure it’s protected against any damage happening from events like storms, flooding, or fire.

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your rented property. So it’ll include things like the roof and building exterior, internal fittings and fixtures, and the central heating - which are all your landlord’s responsibility.

Key points

  • Your landlord’s insurance will only cover their property and belongings
  • To protect your possessions you’ll need your own contents insurance
  • The type of contents insurance you need will depend on whether you’re renting a room, an entire home, or sharing a house
  • Tenants’ liability insurance can protect you against any accidental damage you might cause to your landlord’s property

Do I need contents insurance if I rent?

A survey commissioned by Nationwide in January 2021 found that 22% of renters in the UK don’t have contents insurance, despite half of them worrying they’ll end up causing accidental damage [1].

But although renters don’t legally need to take out contents insurance, protecting your personal possessions is a good idea - especially if you’re living in shared accommodation.

More people coming and going means an increased risk of accidents happening and damage or theft of your possessions.

Contents insurance can help by giving you peace of mind and financial protection if you find yourself needing to replace or repair items.

What type of contents insurance should I get?

Whether you’re renting a room or the whole home, your landlord will be responsible for the building but it'll be up to you to protect your belongings from theft and damage.

The type of cover you’ll need will depend on the type of accommodation you’re renting:

Renting a home

If you’re renting a home with your partner or family, you can simply buy a standard contents-only policy to protect your belongings.

Renting a shared house

If you’re sharing with other housemates, you can either buy a joint policy together for the property, or you can cover your own possessions by buying a room-only contents policy.

Bear in mind that sharing with others can increase the risk of damage or theft which often makes premiums more expensive. And with a joint policy, if one person makes a claim this is likely to affect everyone’s no-claims bonus.

With a room-only or tenants’ insurance policy, you might need to have a lock on your door and your belongings may not be covered in communal areas.

However, this type of policy will typically include tenants’ liability insurance, which covers you for accidental damage to your landlord’s property.

As a lodger

If you’re renting a room in someone’s home, it’s unlikely that your belongings will be covered by the homeowner’s policy.

Instead, you’ll need to take out your own renters’ contents insurance to cover anything you keep at the property.

In university halls of residence

Your university may offer you contents insurance when you rent a room in student halls. And even if they don't provide it, several insurers offer specialist cover for students.

Alternatively, parents may be able to extend their home insurance policy to cover their child in halls. But it’s worth comparing what each type of cover includes and costs.

Is my landlord responsible if a leak damages my possessions?

Your landlord’s insurance will usually only cover damage to their property and belongings.

So if there’s a leak in the property and your laptop or other possessions suffer water damage, your landlord’s insurance won’t cover it and it’d be up to you to pay out for replacements.

What’s more, if you accidentally cause water damage in the property - for example by leaving a tap running - your landlord or their insurer could claim compensation from you.

How is renters’ contents insurance different from standard contents insurance?

If you’re renting a room in a house you might not want to pay for covering everyone else’s belongings and may just want to protect your own items.

Whereas standard contents insurance covers the whole property, renters’ or tenants’ insurance is designed to just protect your personal possessions from theft or damage.

Plus tenants’ contents insurance often gives you the added protection of tenants’ liability insurance, in case you cause accidental damage to your landlord’s property.

What other types of insurance might I need if I’m renting?

Policies vary in what they cover, so you’ll need to check the wording carefully. But typically, you can buy the following insurance as add-ons if they’re not included with your policy:

  1. Accidental damage

    This protects you against unexpected accidents happening to your valuables, like spilling a glass of water on a favourite gadget

  2. Personal possession cover

    This can cover belongings - like mobiles, jewellery or laptops - if they’re stolen, damaged or lost when you take them outside of the property

  3. Tenants’ liability insurance

    This will cover you accidentally damaging rented property and can prevent you from losing your security deposit

  4. Single item cover

    If any possessions are worth more than the policy’s maximum value limit (typically £1,500) you may need to insure these separately or list them individually on your policy

Do I need insurance for my landlord's items?

While your landlord will have their own insurance for their building and belongings, if you or anyone you invite into the property causes accidental damage, you’ll be responsible for it.

Tenants’ liability insurance is designed to protect tenants from losing their deposit, or being left out of pocket if they cause accidental damage to their landlord’s items or property.

Depending on the landlord, some will require you to have tenants’ liability insurance before you take out a rental contract with them.

[1] Survey of 1,002 renters in the UK conducted by Censuswide between 4-6 January 2021

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