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Renters and tenants insurance

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There are two key types of home insurance: building and contents.

If you rent your home, your landlord will usually have building insurance and coverage for any items they own in the property (ie furniture), but this won’t cover your possessions. 

To insure your belongings, you need renters insurance (also called tenants insurance). This will cover your possessions, such as clothes, electrical appliances, gadgets, furniture and sports equipment, from a range of risks, including fires, floods and burglary.

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What is tenants contents insurance?

Tenants contents insurance is a type of insurance that you should buy if you rent your home, whether you rent from a private landlord, housing association or local authority or are a lodger in someone else’s home.

Rented house insurance just covers the possessions a tenant keeps in the property rather than the building itself. Home insurance for tenants will include everything you own and keep in the property, such as gadgets, cash, clothes, furniture and even the food in your freezer. 

Renters insurance can cover the whole household if you rent as a couple or family or just your personal belongings if you rent a room in a shared house or house of multiple occupation. Tenants or renters insurance is bought as an annual policy, and it’s normally similar in cost to other home contents insurance policies.

Are renters in the UK required to have contents insurance?

Insurance for renters is not a legal requirement in the UK, but it’s a good idea to buy it. For a relatively small cost, you can protect your possessions for tens of thousands of pounds. Burglaries are a common crime, and thieves can quickly steal your belongings, but break-ins aren’t the only thing insurance will protect you from. Your possessions might also be damaged by leaks, floods or fires. 

Hopefully, none of these things will ever affect your home, but tenants insurance can give you peace of mind. Some policies will also protect your stuff while it’s out of the home, which is handy if you lose your mobile or your bike is stolen.

What is covered under tenants contents insurance policies?

A comprehensive tenants contents insurance policy will normally cover the following:

As standard Optional extras
Clothes Accidental damage
Furniture Possessions taken out of the home
Gadgets Bikes
Jewellery Specified items above a certain value
Sports equipment Legal expenses cover
Electrical appliances Items in a shed or garden
Food in the freezer
Cash
Musical instruments

Your belongings will be covered against damage, loss or theft from events such as the following:

  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Storms and weather
  • Burglary
  • Vandalism
  • Collision from vehicles or aircraft
  • Water and oil leaks

Most policies include tenants liability insurance, which covers renters if they accidentally damage the rental property or the landlord’s contents within it (eg furniture).

What is not covered under tenants contents insurance policies?

All insurance policies have things that aren’t covered, which are known as exclusions. Common exclusions from tenants insurance include the following:

Cars and other vehicles Should be covered by motor insurance
Wear and tear Involves damage from regular use
Items lost accidentally Should be covered by gadget insurance
Negligence Includes theft by a guest or as a result of an open door or window
Items over a specified limit Must be listed separately on the policy
Homes left unoccupied Normally for 30 or 60 days
Business contents Covered by business insurance
Sports/camping equipment while in use Should be covered by the owner
Electrical item breakdown Covered by warranties/extended warranties
Items owned by the landlord The landlord’s responsibility
Items left unattended in public If you leave your phone in a pub, for example

Are there optional extras with content insurance for tenants?

There are several optional extras you can buy with renters insurance, including the following:

  • Accidental damage: this cover applies if, for example, you spill wine on your sofa or smash your TV
  • Possessions taken out of the home: this covers you against theft/loss for items you regularly carry with you, such as laptops and mobiles
  • Bikes: this coverage applies if your bike is stolen outside your home if it was securely locked to an immovable object
  • Specified items above a certain value: this cover might include expensive electrical items and jewellery
  • Legal expenses cover: this cover applies to various legal costs
  • Items in a shed or garden: conditions will apply, such as whether you use security locks
  • Home emergency cover: this will normally be your landlord’s responsibility
  • Digital downloads: this cover includes files on PCs, laptops and smartphones
  • Tenants liability insurance: this covers you if you damage your landlord’s possessions or the property itself

How much does tenants insurance cost?

According to MoneySuperMarket, renters insurance can cost as little as £5 a month. However, premiums will vary depending on factors such as the following:

  • Your location
  • The type of property
  • The value of your contents
  • Any specified items listed on your policy
  • The policy excess
  • Your claims history

How to cut the cost of renters insurance

  • Compare quotes: use a price comparison site to shop around for renters insurance. Remember to compare policy details as well as the premium so you get all the cover you need
  • Don’t over-insure: the total value of your contents is called the sum insured. You can add up the value of everything you own and make sure you have enough cover. However, some insurers no longer ask you to specify sums insured, as they provide automatic cover up to a set limit, normally £50,000. (Be careful not to under-insure, too, as you may get a reduced payout in the event of a claim)
  • Get the right cover: if you live in a shared house or student accommodation, you can buy renters insurance to just cover the contents of your room. You can normally add items left in common areas, such as the living room, too. If you live as part of a household, such as a couple or family, you can buy one policy to cover everyone’s possessions
  • Increase the excess: the excess on an insurance policy is the amount the policyholder pays in the event of a claim before the insurance kicks in. By adding a voluntary excess to the policy’s compulsory excess, you can normally reduce your premium
  • Pay annually: tenants insurance premiums are quoted as an annual price, but you will also be given the option of paying in monthly instalments. Paying the lump sum upfront is cheaper; with monthly payments, insurers effectively give you a loan for the premium amount and add interest to repayments
  • Turn off auto-renewal: insurers might encourage tenants to agree to auto-renew their policy in a year’s time. This might sound good, but there’s no guarantee the price will stay the same; in fact, it’s likely to go up, and you could save money by switching insurers

Tenants contents insurance FAQs

Tenants liability insurance protects renters if they – or their guests – damage the rental property. This includes the building itself and its fixtures and fittings. It’s normally included as standard on renters insurance, but be sure to check.

Yes, contents insurance is the same as renters insurance. When you buy a policy, the insurer or price comparison site will ask if you’re the homeowner or renter. Some homeowners – such as leaseholders in a block of flats – will only need contents insurance, while others might buy building and contents insurance as a combined policy.

Renters insurance will come with a single-item limit. If you own any item worth more than this, you’ll need to list it separately on the policy for it to be covered.

Students can buy renters insurance or student insurance for the contents of their rooms. Some student possessions might be covered by their parents’ home insurance policy.

emma lunn

Emma Lunn

Money Writer

Emma Lunn is a multi-award winning journalist who specialises in personal finance and consumer issues. 

With more than 18 years’ experience in personal finance, Emma has covered topics including mortgages, first-time buyers, leasehold, banking, debt, budgeting, broadband, energy, pensions and investments. 

Emma’s one of the most prolific freelance personal finance journalists with a back catalogue of work in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday, and the Mirror. 

As a freelancer she has also completed various in-house contracts at The Guardian, The Independent, Mortgage Solutions, Orange, and Moneywise. She also writes regularly for specialist magazines and websites such as Property Hub, Mortgage Strategy and YourMoney.com. 

She has a real passion for helping people learn about money – especially when many people are struggling to get by in today’s challenging economic climate – and prides herself on simplifying complex subjects.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.