What is tenants' contents insurance?
Buildings and contents insurance often come hand-in-hand but what if you only rent a property and therefore only need to insure the contents? This is what tenants' contents insurance is for. Contents insurance for tenants allows you to insure your belongings up to a value you agree, against things like fire, theft or accidental damage.
Do I need tenants' contents insurance?
This is down to you, of course, but it’s important to understand that your landlord has no obligation to insure your belongings for you. You wouldn’t insure your landlord’s buildings just as they wouldn’t insure their tenants' contents!
After that, it is up to you, but don’t forget that cheap tenants' insurance is generally easy to find and could prove to be vital if you ever needed to replace all of your belongings following a fire, flood or theft.
Why does my tenants contents' cover include public liability insurance?
Whilst your landlord will have property owners' liability insurance as part of their landlords' insurance policy you also have contents which could cause an accident and result in someone suffering an injury. Whilst thankfully, the chances are slim, most home contents insurance for tenants will include public liability as standard because in these occasions you could be held liable.
Do I need cover for my landlord’s contents?
When a landlord provides furnishings in their rented property, such as beds, sofas, white goods etc., sometimes they require you to provide the insurance for them. This is a simple argument; if you are using them, you should protect them from damage. In this case you simply need to then include these items when you calculate the value of your contents.
Alternatively though, they may already be insuring their own contents so make sure you check your tenancy agreement before you pay for insure you don’t need!
Are my things covered if someone else damages them?
Accidental damage insurance for tenants contents is one of the main features of this type of policy. Provided the damage is accidental i.e. not malicious or deliberate, then your contents will be insured.
What does it not cover?
If you have expensive items such as phones, laptops, jewellery, watches or rare items you may need to have these items detailed specifically on your policy. This means that as you add all your contents up and insure everything for one amount, insurers may require you to separately price, declare and insure your expensive items.
You may need to provide proof of ownership and for some items have a professional valuation but each insurer will require slightly different things and each can advise as you go through their process.
Will my phone and bicycle be covered away from my home?
As above these items often need to be declared and insured separately. Many insurers however can add these items at a standard rate and the cover will usually stay in place even if you take them away from the property.
While cover for these items will raise the cost of your premium, prices vary depending on what the items are so don’t leave yourself underinsured without getting a few quotes.
The danger of underinsuring
Condition of average clause
Most insurers have a ‘condition of average clause’. This means if you give a sum insured for building/contents which is not enough, they can reduce the claim by the percentage that you’re underinsured. For example - insure for £1,000, but should be £2,000, and claim for £400. You could end up only receiving £200 because you are 50% underinsured. This could be catastrophic when trying to recover all your belongings and in serious cases insurers may even void you policy.
Shared houses… can I insure just one room in a shared house?
It is absolutely possible to insure a private room in a shared house and there are a few ways of going about it.
Firstly, you can take out tenant’s contents insurance for a private room under a separate policy. You will need to be able to lock the door to that room but everything inside will be covered under your policy. You simply need to price up your contents for the correct ‘sums insured’ as you would a whole house.
Secondly, you can take out one policy for the entire property and share the cost between all the tenants. You can each insure your valuable items and pay for these individually whilst keeping all the standard items, including communal contents covered together.
If you are going off to university, contents insurance for students in university halls of residence can sometimes be added as an extension to your parents contents insurance on the family home. This means that you don’t need another policy and your belongings will be covered as if they were still at home.