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Cheap Contents Insurance for Renters

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Tony | Edited by Sam D

Updated 20 Mar 2017

If you rent don't assume your landlord will cover your contents insurance. Nearly HALF of all tenants don't have it. If you're one of them, get it NOW - if not, you'd have to foot the bill if something happens.

This guide highlights why contents insurance is essential for renters and how to get the right policy to suit you at the cheapest price.

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Renters only need contents, NOT buildings insurance

There are three main types of home insurance but renters ONLY need:

  • Home contents insurance, which covers your belongings. In a cheeky analogy, it's usually the items that will fall out if you turn your home upside down.

If you're renting you do NOT need:

  • Home buildings insurance which protects the structure, the fixtures and fittings (ie, kitchen units, fitted wardrobes and the like) in your home. Instead, it'll be your landlord's responsibility to cover this.

What is covered by contents insurance?

Included: What you are usually protected against?

Excluded: You won't be covered for ......

What if I have single items of high value?

What happens if I damage my contents unintentionally?

Will my policy cover my belongings outside the home?

New for old: Will my old goods be replaced with new ones if I have to claim?

Excesses: Do I have to pay an excess if I make a claim?

I'm going away on holiday, am I still covered?

I work from home. Is my business equipment covered?

Renters' contents insurance: The 5 need-to-knows

Here are our top tips to help you get a policy that's right for you.

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If you, your partner or family rent the home, simply buy standard contents insurance

Let's be clear: renters' contents insurance is NOT a specialist standalone policy that's different from the one you take out if you're a home owner. So if you're a family renting out an entire house or flat - and with property prices so high, millions of families have no choice other than to rent - it's generally a straightforward process to pick a policy, so see our steps below.

It's only if you're an individual (or couple) renting a room in a house share or flatshare that you'll need to check a few key extra conditions tailored to your circumstances, see our next point.

Quick question

I'm a leasehold homeowner, not a renter. Do I need to take out both buildings and contents insurance?

I'm a lodger living with my landlord who's suggested I become a named person on the contents policy in order to cut costs. Should I?

If in a flat-share, you might have to work a bit harder to get cover

student home

If you're in a flat-share, there are usually two categories you would fall under when trying to arrange insurance - you either insure the whole flat (or house) with your flatmates or just a room within a flat/house.

Not all insurers are happy to insure you if you're renting just a room in a house-share or flat-share, so you could find the numbers offering a quote lower than usual.

Sharing a rented home with non-family members usually boosts the chances of damage, theft or items going missing simply because the numbers of different people entering and leaving the property is treated as a much higher risk especially with communal events eg, a party or celebration - with a higher premium to pay.

Because of this insurers will treat you as a greater risk.

If you're opting for room-only insurance, there are two key points to remember:

  • To be covered against theft, you need make sure you have a lock on the door to your room. Also, make sure the door is locked when you are not at the home. No sign of forced entry is likely to have your claim declined.


  • If your belongings are in the communal areas, again, do not expect these to be covered unless there is forced entry in to the home.

If you're opting for a policy covering the whole flat-share, keep in mind:

If you rent a room in a house either with a group of friends, or with unknowns when you first move to a new city, becoming a named person on a joint policy can bring unwanted consequences because of so-called 'association'.

In other words, if one of your housemates makes a claim, it will affect everyone else's premium at renewal plus, if you move out of the property, you'll likely have to declare any claim made on the previous joint policy on any new policy you take out over the next five years.

Don't under-estimate what your contents are worth, otherwise your claim may be cut

smoke alarm

For contents insurance, under-insuring could lead to you getting less than the value of your items if you need when you claim. Add up everything, including smaller items such as clothes, on a 'new-for-old' basis. (See new for old for more.)

For example, if you insure £10,000 of possessions when you actually have £20,000, and you need to make a claim, then you'll only have 50% of your contents protected.

Students: check if your parents' policy covers you already

If you're a student and your parents have home insurance, you may automatically be covered against theft or loss under your parents' policy under its 'temporarily removed from the home' section.

The cover only applies while your goods are in your accommodation and as long as your parents' home is your main permanent address. Many policies allow this, so it's worth checking if your parents' insurance includes it.

And if you need cover for any mobiles or laptops, or items you normally wear or carry away from your home, your parents could - if they haven't already - also add the 'all-risks' or 'unspecified personal possessions' section to their policy, which specifically covers your stuff while it's out of your rented home.

Beware monthly repayments, they're really a loan

Pay-monthly options are essentially high-interest loans. Either pay your premium in full, or if you can't afford to, use a credit card with a low APR (or better, a 0% credit card for spending, ensuring your repayments are large enough to clear it within a year).

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Find the best route for you

Now you've brushed up on the basics from our five 'need-to-knows', follow the next steps to getting the right policy at the best price.

Step 1. Which category do you fit in?

Comparison sites are generally a good way to benchmark getting quotations. We are not saying they work for everyone so select the profile which best suits your circumstances hightling what you should look out for when getting the right cover.

Live on your own, with partner OR with your family

Simple - as you are sharing the entire home with related members, such as your spouse, partner or immediate family, a comparison site is the best way to start getting quotes. This is a quick and easy way to search for a policy that'll give you a decent benchmark for prices.

Comparison sites zip your details to insurers' and brokers' websites, finding the cheapest deals.

So be aware they often feed your personal details to insurers. They don't all compare the same companies, so combine them. We've analysed the comparison sites and be aware that comparison sites make many assumptions so ensure you comply - and when clicking to insurers, check all the info's correct and the policy's suitable.

Need room-only cover in flatshare

Comparison sites can work for you but take note of the important warning before commiting to buy as specific conditions are likely to be put in place.

IMPORTANT WARNING. In a flat (or house) share and hunting for contents insurance? While all the comparison sites should have asked you the right questions, meaning the result should cover you, before you get the policy make sure you check the T&Cs for any specific stipulations, eg, it'd only cover you if you've got a lock on the door to your room.

Try specialists too
Brokers or other specialists to speak to include Home Protect*Endsleigh and the AA. Some of these may appear on comparison sites but as comparison site results for this sector aren't always perfect it can be worth speaking to them direct.

You may find it easier going down the route of finding a local broker via the British Insurance Brokers' Association as these will specialise in tailoring a quote for you.

Want insurance for whole property in flatshare/houseshare

Here, you have a choice between everyone getting their own individual contents policy - in which case use the comparison sites below - or, if you want a joint policy with a number of names on it, try a specialist or broker who can give you the advice you need. Make sure you understand the potential risks of all names on a policy, though.

IMPORTANT WARNING. In a flat (or house) share and hunting for contents insurance? Always check the T&Cs on comparison site policies for any specific stipulations such as having individual locks on room doors. Also read our rundown of the potential risks of being named on a joint policy too.

Try specialists too
Brokers or other specialists to speak to include Home Protect*Endsleigh and the AA. Some of these may appear on comparison sites but as comparison site results for this sector aren't always perfect it can be worth speaking to them direct.

You may find it easier going down the route of finding a local broker via the British Insurance Brokers' Association as these will specialise in tailoring a quote for you.

You're a lodger in a house/flat

For most, a cheap contents policy available via a comparison site will be best. Your landlord may suggest becoming a named person on their own policy to cut costs, but make sure you understand the risks.

IMPORTANT WARNING. You're a lodger in a landlord's flat/house and hunting for contents insurance? Make sure you check the T&Cs for any specific stipulations such as needing a lock on the door to your room for cover to be valid. Also, read our rundown of the risks if you're considering splitting the cost on a shared policy.

Try specialists too
Brokers or other specialists to speak to include Home Protect*Endsleigh and the AA. Some of these may appear on comparison sites but as comparison site results for this sector aren't always perfect it can be worth speaking to them direct.

You may find it easier going down the route of finding a local broker via the British Insurance Brokers' Association as these will specialise in tailoring a quote for you.

Step 2. Check the BIG insurers comparison sites miss out

Comparison sites let you compare insurers quickly, yet don't capture the entire market. Some insurers don't appear on comparison sites at all – and some deals are only available by going directly to an insurer's website.

We've only included the biggies here but the broker section below will help you extend your search even wider.

Direct Line

Direct Line* guarantees to beat the price of any other insurer. It must be on an equivalent policy and you must send proof of the rival's price (only applies to new policyholders; see the full T&Cs).

Aviva

Aviva* is another insurer worth considering that you won't find on comparison sites.


Step 3. Having trouble getting cover?

Some groups, such as those with a chequered financial past – such as bankruptcy or CCJs, can find it difficult to find cheap insurance cover as they are considered too high a risk.

Those in areas prone to flooding, subsidence or whose home is left unoccupied for long periods may struggle too.

In these situations, provider's Home Protect* and Intelligent Insurance* may be able to help.

One final option is to try speaking to a local broker (search on the British Insurance Brokers' Association website) about your individual circumstances.

You may find it easier going down the route of finding a local broker via BIBA as these will specialise in tailoring a quote for you.

Quick question

Will upping the security get me better cover?

Step 4. Check your policy

Always double-check the policy terms. Once you've found the cheapest quotes to suit you and your wallet from the comparison sites and by going direct, make two important checks.

  • Double-check the quotes
    Click through to the insurance provider's own website to double-check the quotes are suitable. Some comparison sites make a few assumptions (that might not be right for you) to speed up searches.

  • Examine the policy's cover to try to tweak the price down
    While checking whether it's suitable, it's worth playing with the policy details to see if you can finesse the price down. For example, look at the excess, and see if any affordable adjustment here can trim the cost.

Step 5. Get cashback too

Once you know which your cheapest provider is, you need to check you're not missing out on any cashback deals. If your second or third cheapest quotes weren't much more expensive, see if cashback's available for them too, and find the overall winner.

It's important to be aware that the cashback is coming from the comparison site, not the insurer, so getting the cashback relies on its ability to pay.

Things you need to know before getting cashback...

Never count the cash as yours until it's in your bank account

Withdraw the cashback as soon as you're allowed

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How to make a claim on your contents insurance

Claiming on your insurance should be straightforward, and needn't be daunting. If you've read and understand the terms and excesses on your policy, you shouldn't be in for any nasty shocks. But in the event you need to claim, take two simple steps...

  • If it's a theft, notify the police

    If something's stolen from the property, you'll need to get a crime reference number to make a claim. Report the incident to the police as soon as you can to make sure your claim doesn't hit the skids.

  • Submit your claim as soon as possible

    Contact your insurer as soon as you can to avoid any administrative hold-ups; if it's a complex claim, it may take a while to be processed, so the sooner you start, the better.

How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer-service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but, if not, then:

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Important: If your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.

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