Tenants insurance protects the personal belongings you have in the property you are renting from a landlord. As a tenant, it is vital that you have a home contents insurance policy that is tailored to your needs as tenant who is renting their home. Let’s have a look at what tenants insurance usually covers, how much you need and if the extra options are worth it.
Why you need tenants insurance
By exclusively covering your personal possessions, tenants or renters insurance is the best way to take care of what you own in case of theft, vandalism, a fire, a flood and other situations of a similar magnitude. Without it, you will be left without your belongings and facing a hefty bill in order to replace them.
Contents or tenants insurance - what’s the difference?
Home insurance comes in two flavours: building or contents cover. Buildings insurance protects the roof, walls and floors of the home as well as any fixtures that are considered part of the construction of the building. For this reason, tenants don’t need to worry about it. Contents insurance protects the items inside the building. Basically, if it can be moved it can be protected. Tenants insurance is a subset of contents insurance that takes landlord-owned furnishings and tenant liability into account. This makes it better suited to those who rent.
Your landlord should have building insurance at the very least. However, landlords are not legally responsible for any loss or damage to your possessions, so you shouldn’t assume that their policy will cover your belongings.
What it covers
While not all insurance policies cover the same things, here are some things you can generally expect to be included when you’re making a claim:
- Jewellery and other valuables
- Books, records, DVDs, and CDs
- Laptops, TVs and other electronics in your home
Each insurance category is defined by either the kind of items it protects, or the situations it protects your belongings from. You can be sure to have at least one exclusion in every category which limits the risks insurance companies are willing to take on. Customers who are not aware of the limits and exclusions of their policy could easily find themselves with rejected claims. This means that the customer alone is on the hook when it comes to replacement cost.
Student accommodation and sharing with flatmates
The first thing you should do if you’re a student is to check your parent’s property insurance because many home insurance policies include a cover that can help you keep your things protected while you’re at uni.
Some policies will explicitly have a section in their policy wording that talks about members of a household who are students and that will detail up to how much the insurance company is willing to cover.
Other policies may not have such an obvious section but if your parents’ policy has an ‘items temporarily removed from home’ provision then you might be protected from theft and damage without having to take out any extra insurance. Lucky you!
You should be aware that “temporarily removed items” cover will only work while your parents’ house is your primary address.
To make sure you have the most comprehensive cover option, you should convince your parents to upgrade their policy to include accidental damage, away from home or unspecified personal possessions. This ensures that laptops and mobile phones are covered even when they are out of the home.
What happens if I am sharing a flat?
If you have flatmates, getting contents insurance gets a little bit dicier because insurers are not always keen to take on customers who are only renting one room in a home.
The reason why flatshares seem to be such a challenge for insurance providers is that shared homes have a statistically higher probability of theft and damage. Since unrelated people are more likely to come in and out of the flat-share, insurance companies see you as a greater risk.
If you are in a flat-share, you have two options:
1. Room-only cover
Room only cover will be available to you if your room door can be locked. On top of that, you must make sure that the door is locked whenever you leave the flat. If you forget to do that, your insurance will be invalidated.
Any personal items that you have in the shared parts of the flat will not be protected by this kind of insurance except for clear-cut burglary cases. Strict limits on how long your room can be unoccupied are likely to be in place with this type of cover.
2. Whole flat-share insurance
Becoming the insurance holder for a flat you share with random people (or even close friends) places undue personal liability on you and has serious implications on eligibility for future insurance policies you take out after you move out of the flat. This is also the case if you are named in a joint policy with the other flatmates.
This is because if any flatmate on the policy initiates a claim it impacts your premium whenever you need to renew and any claim in the joint policy goes on your record. This stays with you even after you switch insurance companies and can affect you when you get a quote for home insurance once you’re all grown up and have a mortgage.
For this reason, here at Selectra, we strongly recommend that you do not go for this option, where possible.
Basic cover or extra cover?
An insurance quote based on basic contents or tenants insurance will naturally be cheaper than one that is more extensive. However, it’s worth remembering that there are some extra options that can really add to your peace of mind.
One obvious example is away from home cover which helps with compensation in case your bike, computer or mobile phone is stolen or damaged while you are out and about. It’s better to add these useful extra cover options when you sign up for insurance rather than after the fact.
The accidental damage option is another handy extra because it means that even if you spill red wine on your landlord’s rug, your insurance is likely to help you out if you have this option in your policy. The benefits are worth bearing in mind because in this example your insurance could protect your rental deposit as well as saving you the cost and trouble of buying a new rug if the landlord does not wish to use their own insurance policy to cover it.
How to protect valuable items
When you are signing up for new insurance as a tenant, you should list valuable items such as mobile phones, jewellery, bikes and computers to ensure that their full value is accounted for in your policy.
Remember that many valuable items can have specific limits which often range between £1,000 and £2,500. For this reason, it is important that any item that is worth more than the limit should be accounted for separately, so the full value is insured. If you have the away from home extra option included in your policy, the bonus is that even these high-ticket belongings will be covered.
In 2018, 25% of all tenants with insurance had added a laptop or bike to their home insurance. They are by far the two most popular items added by tenants to their policies with insurance trailing a distant third.
Which insurance companies offer tenants insurance?
In the UK, tenants insurance is not necessarily available from all the major insurance companies. In this section, we have rounded up the main established companies that do offer it. You can either get your insurance with a specific insurer or you can go with an insurance agent or broker who has a range of policies from across the insurance industry. However, when it comes to tenants insurance, you may find less choice than what is available to homeowners.
Their current tenant insurance policy has a £75,000 policy limit, with additional cover protecting your liability as a tenant. If you are after a stable insurance provider with many optional extras then AXA is always a solid option.
Another insurance multinational headquartered in London and with deep British roots. They have insurance quotes for tenants with unlimited sums potentially being insured. They also include protection if any cash, cheques or gift vouchers go missing. You should be aware that their valuables cover has a £2,000 limit per item.
Legal & General
They are a renowned British insurer. They offer contents insurance for tenants with home emergency cover included at all levels of cover. Their tenant insurance options are not available for flatshares. They have been around since the 1800s and also operate in the United States. Their customer reviews are mixed but that is normal across the industry.
LV is another large British insurer, that is growing its tenants insurance foothold with a 25% discount for new customers who sign up online. They also cover lock replacement so that if you lose your keys after you’ve maybe had a few too many, you’re not further out of pocket. They have all the extra cover options you could possibly need.