Do I Need Insurance When Renting?

Managing Your Money

You don’t need home insurance if you rent, but it’s a good idea if you can afford it. Here’s how it works and where to find a good deal.

Do I need building and contents insurance?

You don’t need buildings insurance if you rent, but contents insurance is sensible — depending on your belongings and circumstances.  Your landlord is responsible for repairs to the structure of your home, but they won’t usually cover your own belongings. If you live in social housing, your landlord could be a housing association or local council.

For example, if you had a disaster at home like a fire or flood, your landlord might repaint and replace any carpets and furniture they provide. But they wouldn’t give you anything for your missing or damaged items. 

What is covered by contents insurance?

Contents insurance covers your personal belongings against loss, theft and damage. This usually includes:

  • furniture
  • electricals 
  • clothes
  • jewellery
  • shoes
  • other household items like bedding and kitchen utensils.  

So, if your laptop was stolen in a burglary or your clothes were destroyed in a fire, your insurer should give you enough money to replace them. You’d usually pay part of the claim yourself, called an excess. You decide this when you take out the policy, but the lowest is typically none or £50. 

Different types of contents insurance cover for tenants

Different policies offer different levels of cover, including optional add-ons. For example, you might have to pay more to cover:

  • accidental damage — like spilling paint on a carpet
  • items you take away from home, like jewellery and laptops — known as personal possessions cover. 

But only choose an optional extra if you need it. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask the insurer before signing up. 

Do I need contents insurance for a room in a shared house?

Contents insurance is always optional, but it’s still sensible if you’re: 

  • a lodger (renting a room with a live-in landlord), or
  • living in a houseshare or flatshare with non-family members.  

To get your own cover, most insurers require you to have a lock on your bedroom door. Alternatively, if you live with others (and trust them), you could split the cost of a joint policy for the whole property.  Just be aware that anyone named could make a claim, which could make your insurance more expensive in the future. 

How can I get cheap contents insurance?

First, make sure you only buy the cover you need. Add up the value of your contents so you know how much cover to get quotes for.   Next, shop around. Get as many quotes as you can — prices can vary between insurers and even comparison sites. 

You can get insurance quotes from:   

  • comparison sites – enter your details once to get quotes from many insurers 
  • insurers directly – not all insurers appear on comparison sites, such as Direct Line  
  • your Local Authority or Housing Association – they might offer a cheaper deal than you can find elsewhere  
  • insurance brokers – for advice or a tailor-made policy.

Before taking out a policy, make sure you understand what it does and doesn’t cover you for. Also be careful filling in the forms, a mistake on a quote can mean a future claim won’t be paid out. 

Finally, be prepared to shop around again when the policy ends. Your insurer will send a renewal a few weeks before but always compare other options first.   

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