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Cheap Contents Insurance for Tenants

Don't assume your landlord covers you

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Tony | Edited by Sam D

Updated Monthly

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.

gadgets

Tenants 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?

What happens if I make a claim?

Adverse weather: What do I do if there's an emergency?

How do I make an insurance claim?

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

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

row houses

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

Let's be clear: tenants' 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 flat-share 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 tenant. 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, or if you're a non-family group on a joint policy when insuring a whole house, 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).

row houses

How to find the cheapest contents insurance for you

Here, getting the cheapest cover all depends on who you live with – eg, someone living with their family and someone sharing with friends need to go down different routes. To find the right policy which suits your circumstances we have worked out which is the best route for you.

Step 1. Use price comparison sites

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.

Check the big 'uns they miss...

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.

Direct Line

You won't find big insurer Direct Line* on comparison sites. If you have another Direct Line product, get 10% off with Direct Line Together*.


Aviva

Aviva* is another insurer worth considering that you won't find on comparison sites. Grab up to 20% off online when you buy contents cover.

 

Step 2. Struggling to get cheap cover? Go to a broker

If you're having trouble getting cover, seeing a broker will be your next port of call. An insurance broker is an expert on insurance, who knows the market and can give you advice on getting the right cover for your needs.

Some groups, such as those with a chequered financial past – such as bankruptcy or county court judgments, 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, search on the British Insurance Brokers' Association website (or phone 0370 950 1790) about your individual circumstances – and they will list brokers in your local area who might be able to help.

It's also worth trying Home Protect* and Intelligent Insurance*. They are specialist providers working with a number of insurance companies that can help to arrange cover for those who have trouble getting it.

Quick question

Will upping the security get me better cover?

Step 3. 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 4. 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

Clear your cookies


Step 1. Use price comparison sites

If you just want insurance for your room, comparison sites can work for you. However, take note of the important warning before committing to buy as specific conditions are likely to be put in place.

IMPORTANT WARNING. In a flat/house-share and hunting for contents insurance? All the comparison sites should have asked you the right questions about who you live with, meaning the result should cover you. However, before you get a 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.

Step 2. Struggling to get cheap cover? Go to a broker

If you're having trouble getting cover, seeing a broker will be your next port of call. An insurance broker is an expert on insurance, who knows the market and can give you advice on getting the right cover for your needs.

Some groups, such as those with a chequered financial past – such as bankruptcy or county court judgments, 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, search on the British Insurance Brokers' Association website (or phone 0370 950 1790) about your individual circumstances – and they will list brokers in your local area who might be able to help.

It's also worth trying Home Protect* and Intelligent Insurance*. They are specialist providers working with a number of insurance companies that can help to arrange cover for those who have trouble getting it.

Quick question

Will upping the security get me better cover?

Step 3. 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 4. 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

Clear your cookies


Step 1. Go to a broker

If you want to get a joint policy with a number of names on it, your best option would be to speak to a broker who can give you the advice you need. An insurance broker is an expert on insurance, who knows the market and can give you advice on getting the right cover for your needs.

The British Insurance Brokers' Association website (or phone 0370 950 1790) lists brokers in your local area who might be able to help.

It's also worth trying Home Protect* and Intelligent Insurance*. They are specialist providers working with a number of insurance companies that can help to arrange cover for those who have trouble getting it.

IMPORTANT WARNING. Choosing to take the joint policy route means you must understand the potential risks of all names on a policy. By renting a room in a house either with a group of friends – or with unknowns when you first move to a new city – you become a named person on a joint policy which can bring unwanted consequences because of so-called 'association'.

So 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.

If this worries you, you could consider everyone getting their own individual contents policy just for their own room – see Option 2: Need room-only cover in flat-share for more.

Quick question

Will upping the security get me better cover?

Step 2. 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 3. 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

Clear your cookies


The choice in this situation is to either get added to your landlord's policy – by becoming a named person on your landlord's policy, you can split the cost of insurance and save – or have your own policy.

If you choose to go it alone and have your own room-only policy – follow Option 2: Need room-only cover in flat-share. Remember, your contents won't be covered in communal areas unless there is forced entry in to the home.

IMPORTANT WARNING. If you find the savings are worth it and choose to let your landlord arrange cover, it's worth pointing out that you need to be confident the landlord would make a claim when required, and give you the appropriate payout (or excessively up your rent to cover the insurance).

Also, not all insurers will put lodgers on an existing policy. This is down to a bit of industry law known as 'insurable interest'. In a nutshell, it means if you haven't got a financial interest in the item you're paying to insure, then many insurers take the view that there's no insurable interest on behalf of the landlord – so you, as a lodger, wouldn't get a payout.

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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For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out