Do tenants need home insurance?
Make sure your belongings are protected while you're renting
The cost of renting in the UK is currently incredibly high, and it can be tempting to avoid extra costs such as home insurance wherever possible. But are you losing valuable protection? This guide looks at what home insurance is, and whether it's worth considering while you're renting.
What is home insurance and do I need it if I'm renting a property or room?
Home insurance provides financial protection in the event that something drastic happens at the property where you live.
For example, if someone broke in and pinched your TV, you'd be able to claim the cost of repairing the locks and replacing the telly on your home insurance.
There are two kinds of home insurance available: buildings and contents.
- Buildings insurance covers the actual building (such as the walls, windows and roof).
- Contents insurance covers the stuff you keep inside it (such as furniture, books and jewellery).
Many home insurance policies offer this cover combined, so include both kinds of insurance. (For a detailed explanation of how home insurance works, head to our full Home insurance guide.)
However, if you're renting, you don't need a combined home insurance policy. That's because your landlord will have their own cover in place to protect the building itself and any of their belongings inside it. Yet this WON'T cover your personal belongings. To get this protection in place, you'll need your own renters' contents insurance policy.
What is tenants' or renters' insurance?
No, there's no legal requirement to take out tenants' insurance. But it's risky not having any in place – as your landlord's insurance won't pay out if any of your possessions are stolen or damaged, even if it covers the furniture they've provided.
If you're unsure, consider how much it would cost to replace all the items in your home if the worst happened. Plus, think about how 'at risk' the property is – for example, some areas are more likely to be affected by flooding or crime. If you live in one of these areas, it's even more important to consider coverage.
What does tenants' insurance cover?
Renters' insurance provides protection for your personal belongings, but only in specific situations. So while you can make a claim for belongings stolen during a break-in, you usually can't claim if your mobile phone is stolen while you're out and about, away from the home. You can normally get this extra cover as an add-on, though.
- Theft, where there's evidence of forced entry
- Burst pipes or water leaks
- Storm or weather damage
- Accidental damage to your landlord's property, also known as tenants' liability cover
Some policies will also cover the cost of staying somewhere else while your rented property is being repaired after a fire or flood.
Not every situation can be covered, and while each insurer will have slightly different terms and conditions, you can expect the following not to be included as standard...
- Natural wear and tear
- Theft with no signs of forced entry
- High-value items – insurers typically have a 'single-item value limit', which is the max amount they'll pay out for an individual item. This is often between £1,000 and £2,000, so if you have items worth more than this, you'd need to let the insurer know about them
- Possessions outside the home (for example, if your mobile is stolen from a café)
- Anything you use for business purposes
- Homes left unoccupied – usually insurers won't cover your belongings if you've been away from your home for more than 30 days (though some will allow you to leave the property unoccupied for up to 60 days)
- Any permanent part of the property, such as the walls, roof or windows – your landlord will need their own buildings insurance for that
What optional extras can I get with rental contents insurance?
If you think you need more protection than a standard renters' insurance policy can provide, many insurers will offer add-ons to boost your coverage.
Common add-ons you may want to consider include:
- Accidental damage cover – protects against any unexpected and accidental damage, such as a spill, or broken window
- Home emergency cover – for any urgent issues affecting your gas, electricity or water, such as a boiler breakdown
- Personal possessions – provides cover for belongings that you regularly take out of the home, such as your phone or laptop
- Legal cover – meets the cost of legal advice for a range of common disputes, such as a tradesperson demanding full payment for a job half-done
- Bicycle cover – your bike will normally be covered when it's at home under a standard contents insurance policy. But you'll need to add away-from-home cover to ensure you can claim if it's stolen or damaged while you're out and about
How can I save money on tenants' insurance?
- Pay annually, rather than monthly
- DON'T auto-renew – check you're getting the best deal every year
- Accurately work out the value of your stuff
- Ask your landlord to upgrade locks and alarms
- Increase your voluntary excess, but always make sure you can afford that excess comfortably
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