Tenants: how to insure the contents of your rented property
House prices remain beyond the reach of many people. Mortgages are also harder to come by as banks tighten up on their lending criteria, so more people are renting instead of buying a home.
But renting comes with responsibilities. Tenants obviously have to pay the rent and most of the bills, but many overlook contents insurance.
It isn't compulsory to insure your belongings, but it is usually a good idea. You might not think you own many personal possessions, but their value can soon add up. Do you have a television, an iPod, a laptop computer, a DVD collection, a mobile phone? Also, how much would it cost to replace all of your stuff if it was stolen or damaged by fire?
What does tenants insurance cover?
Contents insurance for tenants typically covers your possessions against loss or damage by fire, smoke, lightning, theft, flood and escape of water and oil. It does not only cover personal belongings, but also typically includes any furniture and electrical items such as washing machines and tumble dryers - even your bicycle.
However, different insurers offer different policies. Some, for example, will not insure your contents if you live in shared accommodation, such as a student house. Others might refuse to quote if you rent a property that is already furnished.
Don't confuse contents with buildings insurance, which covers the structure of the building and is the responsibility of the landlord.
How much cover do I need?
It's not always easy to work out how much it would cost to replace your home contents. Some insurers offer online calculators, but the best advice is simply to make a list of everything you own, room by room.
Try to keep the figure up to date and remember to contact your insurer if you buy a bigger ticket item, such as a flat screen television that could affect your contents cover.
If you own anything particularly valuable, you might have to give details on the policy. There will also most likely be a limit on any claim.
Is a basic policy adequate?
If you buy only basic contents insurance for tenants, it will usually be cheaper than a policy that offers wider cover. But some added extras might well be worth the added premium.
You can extend your policy to cover your personal possessions when you take them out of your home - for example, your mobile phone, iPod or camera. The extra cover shouldn't be too expensive and will buy you peace of mind.
Most insurers will also agree to insure your own and your landlords contents against accidental damage - and the cover can be very useful. If you include accidental damage, your insurance would pay out if, for example, you spilt paint on the landlord's carpet. You would not only save yourself the expense of a new carpet, but would also safeguard your deposit.
How can I save money on my tenants contents insurance?
The best way to save money is to shop around for a cheap quote. But always remember to compare like with like. A policy might be cheap because it does not offer adequate cover. You can compare quotes from a wide range of insurers at the click of a mouse on Moneysupermarket.com
For more information on what is covered, how much cover you need and how to save money on your policy, please read our guide to Contents Insurance.