Tenant’s Guide to Contents Insurance
- November 27, 2018
- by Suliman
A Tenant’s Guide to Contents Insurance
If you are renting a property, the first thing to remember is: do not make the assumption that your landlord will cover your contents. A recent study showed that almost 50% of tenants do not have a contents insurance policy in place.
If you are amongst those who do not yet have cover, it will be useful to have your contents insured, otherwise you will have to pay the costs if something unexpected happens. Many people purchase contents cover as it gives them peace of mind.
In the following guide, we will explain why contents insurance is a must have for those that are renting. We will also help you save money and find the right policy that meets your needs.
Do I need buildings and contents insurance?
There are two main types of home insurance: buildings insurance and contents insurance. If you are renting a property, you will only need contents insurance. If you are wondering what you will be covered for in a contents cover policy, many insurers give the following analogy: if you were to turn the property upside down, everything that would fall would be covered in this insurance including the carpets.
Again, this is only a general example so it will be helpful to read through your policy booklet to see what exactly is covered, including the various exclusions.
Are you sure I don’t need buildings insurance as well?
If you are renting, you are not required to have buildings insurance. This policy covers the building structure, and any fixtures and fittings e.g. bathroom and kitchen units. This is not your responsibility and the landlord will have to have separate insurance to cover this.
Remember to check your tenancy agreement, although you are not responsible for buildings cover, your landlord may still charge you for any accidental or malicious damage.
Buy standard contents insurance if you are renting the property
Tenants’ contents insurance is not a specialist type of policy. This is the same type of contents cover you would purchase even if you were a home owner. The only difference being, you only need contents and not buildings cover. Generally, it should be quite simple selecting the right policy that meets your needs.
How do I get cover if I am in a house share or flat share?
If you are renting a house share or flat share property, you would typically have two separate options available to you:
Insure the whole property (house or flat) with the other tenants under one policy
Insure your room only within the property (house or flat), each tenant will also have to have their own separate policy
One thing to remember is that not every insurance provider will offer you cover if you are just renting a room within a property share (house or flat) or even if you want the whole property to be covered. This gives you less options when comparing quotes. The reasoning behind this is because if you are sharing a property with other tenants, this means you are at a higher risk for any damage caused, or theft of belongings.
Insurers look at this from a different perspective, it is likely more people will enter or leave the property at any given time and events such as gatherings or parties will increase your risk factor.
If you only wish to cover your own room within the property share, consider the following key points:
You must have a lock for your room if you want to be covered against theft. The door must be locked when you are not in the property otherwise any claim may be refused.
If you have personal belongings in the communal area (kitchen or living room), these will not be covered in most cases, unless there is evidence of forced entry.
If you rent a property with your friends or people you don’t know, and you are listed on the policy as a joint policy holder, this can also affect you. If someone decides to make a claim, each joint policy holder will have their renewal premium affected. If you decide to move out of the property and you were on the previous contents policy, you will be required to declare all previous claims. Depending on the insurance provider, they may ask for the last 3 to 5 year period.
Never underestimate the value of your contents
Many people assume that their contents are not worth that much. Once you start adding the values for each individual item, you will be surprised when you see total value. It is a good idea to create a spreadsheet and list individual items and their values. This task can be very time consuming, so you may wish to only list items of a certain value and give an estimate for the rest of your belongings.
For example, you may choose to list furniture, jewellery, and electronics but estimate how many books are on a bookshelf and multiply this by £5 to £10. Remember to assign values to your contents on a ‘new-for-old’ basis. This means how much it would cost to replace any specific item if you had to repurchase it as brand new. It is essential that you have the right level of cover. If you have £25,000 worth of contents but are only covered for £15,000, you will not be covered for the remaining £10,000 in the event of a claim.
What if I am a student?
If your parents have a home contents insurance policy, you may be covered for things like theft or loss within the ‘temporarily removed from the home’ section under their policy. It is worth checking their policy to see if this is included. This will only apply for contents within your accommodation, and your parents’ home is still registered as your permanent address.
If you do require cover for things like a laptop or mobile phone outside of your accommodation or registered home address, these can be included in the ‘unspecified personal belongings’ or ‘all-risks’ section of any contents policy.
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