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Renters' insurance: Home and contents insurance for tenants

Increasing numbers of Britons are living in long-term rented accommodation. 46% of those aged 25 to 34 rent in the private sector and half of all babies are now born to families renting their home.

While tenants don’t need buildings insurance, which may be provided by their landlord, they’ll want to insure the possessions they keep in the flat - from electronics to clothing and valuables. Tenants insurance can also be extended to cover items you take outside of the home, including bicycles and laptops, and to protect you against accidental damage you cause to the landlord’s furnishings - such as carpet or curtains.

In This Guide:

What home insurance do tenants need?

There are two types of home insurance policies. Buildings insurance covers the physical structure and permanent fixtures and fittings of a home in event of damage caused by natural disaster, fire, leaks, crime, and other accidents. Contents insurance covers the possessions stored in the property from damage, destruction, loss and theft.

If you’re a renter, you won’t need to obtain buildings insurance. That’s the responsibility of your landlord. If the property you’re renting sustains damage, your landlord’s policy will cover the repair of structures like roofs, windows, doors and floors. Your landlord may also have a contents insurance policy that covers the appliances and furnishings they’ve provided with the property.

But the personal possessions you keep in the property will not be covered by either of these policies. You will need to get a separate contents insurance policy — sometimes marketed as tenants insurance. These policies will offer compensation or replacements in the event of the destruction, loss, theft and accidental damage of your personal possessions.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average UK residence houses nearly £35,000 of possessions. But despite the high cost of replacing these, nearly half of all tenants in the UK don’t have contents insurance. Overall, there is more than £266 million worth of uninsured home contents in the UK.

What’s covered by rental insurance policies?

Tenants will generally need to get contents insurance (rather than buildings insurance). This covers all the personal possessions you store in the property, from electronics to books or valuables like jewellery and paintings. There are two types of cover offered. New for old policies give you brand new replacements for items that are damaged or stolen. Indemnity cover, a cheaper alternative, accounts for the age and condition of the items—for instance compensating you with the current value of a five-year-old stereo rather than it’s purchase price.

Tenants insurance policies can also include additional coverage. Whether this is included as standard or is added on for additional cost on your premiums, will depend on the policy so read the terms and condition carefully.

  • Tenants’ Liability: this covers the repair or replacement of fixtures and items you accidentally damage in your rented accommodation, such as spilling something on the carpet or breaking a window.
  • Personal Possession Cover: this covers items like electronic gadgets, jewellery and watches, even when you take them outside of the property.
  • Accidental Damage: this protects your possessions from accidental damage you cause to them, such as if you drop a laptop or knock over a television.

How much does tenants' home insurance cost?

The median price for household contents insurance is £128 a year, according to data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI). The amount you will personally pay will depend on several factors:

  • The Sum Insured: this is the amount your insurance policy will pay out in the event of the destruction or loss of all your possessions. The sum insured should be equal to the value of the items in your home. A contents insurance calculator can help you arrive at a close estimate and ensure you’re not paying for too much cover.
  • Type of Cover: indemnity policies will be cheaper than those offering new for old replacements.
  • Postcode: you’ll pay higher premiums if you live in an area with a high crime rate.
  • The Security on the Property: typically, you’ll need to have insurance industry approved locks on the doors and windows of the property to even qualify for a home insurance policy. But you if you beef up security, such as installing a burglar alarm, you can earn discounts on your premiums.
  • Build Up a No Claims Bonus: if you’ve had a home insurance policy for years and not made a claim on it, insurers will reward you with lower premiums. No claims bonuses can be so valuable that it might be worth not making small claims in order to preserve yours.
  • The Excess: all policies will come with a compulsory excess - the amount you’re expected to pay toward any claim - but you can raise the level, via a voluntary excess, which will reduce your premiums.
  • Compare Home Insurance Quotes: the more home insurance policies you compare, the better deal you’ll find. Money Expert is a price comparison site, allowing you to compare quotes for tenants insurance from dozens of insurers in moments.

Can you get tenants' contents insurance in a flat share?

Many young people and students rent rooms in shared houses and should also consider getting insurance for the contents they store in their own rooms. You’ll typically be required to secure that room with a lock and make sure it’s locked when you’re not home. Insurers will reject claims for stolen possessions if there’s no sign of forced entry into the room. Additionally, items left in common areas in the property won’t be covered by the policy.

Frequently asked questions

What is not covered by renters’ insurance?

Renter’s insurance comes with personal property and liability coverage, but it doesn’t cover everything. On the whole, catastrophic and unfortunate natural occurrences are not covered by renters’ insurance. More specifically, renters’ insurance generally does not cover: 
  • Bed bugs and pests 
  • Earthquakes or flood damage
  • Roommate’s property
  • Damage to your car
  • Lower limits apply for certain higher-value items
  • Specific incidents like aggressive dog breeds or exotic pets

What happens if you don’t have renter’s insurance?

If you are in a position where you are renting and your landlord hasn’t already made sure you have renter’s insurance before you moved in, the short answer is you should sort some, fast.  
Let’s say you have a stroke of severe misfortune and a fire starts in your building and engulfs your belongings. As terrible a situation that may be anyway, it could be made a thousand times worse if you then have to pay to replace all of your belongings yourself.

Do renters need to get contents insurance?

Renters are strongly advised to take out contents insurance, even if it isn’t contractually required. Contents insurance is there to help protect your possessions if anything happens to them, this includes damage or theft and can be a vital safety blanket for a tenant. For renters, content insurance can be especially handy as most policies also cover damage to a landlord’s fixtures and fittings. 

Can a landlord force a tenant to get insurance?

In short, yes. A landlord can insist on a renter taking out insurance as part of the lease. Tenant insurance can also include contents insurance. Some contents insurances include tenants’ liability insurance which covers damage to the landlord’s property.

Does tenants’ contents insurance cover wear and tear to the property?

No, tenants’ contents insurance covers a renters’ personal possessions. What a renter needs to cover property wear and tear is tenants’ liability insurance. Tenants’ liability insurance can cover the costs of any accidental damage to your landlord’s property and belongings that you’re liable for as part of your tenancy agreement.

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Last reviewed: 1 June 2024

Next review: 1 July 2024