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Do I need contents insurance as a tenant?

Find out what renters insurance covers and whether it's right for you

Mehdi Punjwani
Written by  Mehdi Punjwani
Alicia Hempsted
Reviewed by  Alicia Hempsted
5 min read
Updated: 02 Jan 2024

Renters insurance is designed for people living in rented accommodation and it offers cover when you aren’t the property owner. Read our guide to see what's covered and decide if it's right for you.

If you’re a tenant or a student, then having renters insurance in place can protect you against a big bill if the unexpected happens and your belongings are damaged or stolen.

In fact, some of the most popular items insured by renters include things like laptops and tablets, jewellery and watches, bicycles and home entertainment systems. These can be expensive to purchase in the first place, but if they’re stolen or become damaged then repair or replacement costs will make another dent in your budget.

Paying a monthly premium – alongside an excess fee if you ever have to claim – protects your belongings and the contents of your wallet.

Take a look at these scenarios where a renters insurance policy could come in handy.

What is and isn’t covered with tenants insurance?

The exact level of cover you’ll get with your tenants insurance policy depends on the insurer and the type of policy you take out. However, you should generally expect the following to be covered by most tenants insurance policies:

  • Theft: If your belongings are stolen from your property

  • Vandalism: If someone causes deliberate damage to your property

  • Water leaks: If any pipes burst and cause a leakage of water

  • Storm damage: Any damage resulting from a storm

  • Flooding: Any damage resulting from a flood or natural disaster

  • Fire: Any damage resulting from a fire or explosion

  • Tenants’ liability: If you cause accidental damage to your landlord’s property or belongings

  • Alternative accommodation: You may also get cover for additional living expenses and alternative accommodation if you’re required to leave your home while it’s being repaired

Protection from the above will apply to any personal items or belongings you keep in the property, including:

  • Appliances such as microwaves and toasters

  • Furniture like sofas, tables and chairs

  • Guitars, keyboards and other instruments

  • Clothes and Jewellery including wedding dresses, designer clothes, rings and bracelets

  • Gadgets like tablets, laptops and mobile phones

  • Collectables such as art, antiques and heirlooms

  • Other belongings including things like bicycles

  • Home entertainment for example TVs, DVD players, games consoles and stereos

You'll also have the option of adding extras to your policy, such as out-of-home, accidental damage and legal cover.

Any items like furniture that don’t belong to you are up to the landlord to cover, so your tenants contents insurance policy won’t protect these items. Likewise, a tenants insurance policy won’t cover the building itself, as this is also down to the landlord.

Items you own in the property that might not qualify for cover include:

  • Items or belongings used for professional purposes, excluding office furniture and equipment

  • Items that break down due to a mechanical or electrical fault

  • Items that break down due to wear and tear

  • Items that have been damaged deliberately by your or members of your household

  • Items that exceed your single-item value limit - so be sure to check the value of your belongings and declare any high-value items separately

  • Items kept outside the home

  • Items that are damaged or stolen while the home is unoccupied for a long stretch of time - normally 30 days unless you have unoccupied home insurance

A picture of a wet phone in dark colours

Is tenants insurance mandatory in the UK?

Tenants insurance isn’t mandatory for people living in rented accommodation in the UK. However, it can be risky not having cover in place, as your landlord’s own insurance policy won’t cover your belongings.

How much cover will I need?

To estimate how much coverage you’ll need on your tenants contents insurance policy, you should try to estimate the total value of your belongings and what it would cost to replace them. Try to be accurate with your valuations, as if you over-estimate you’ll end up paying too much for an amount of coverage you don’t require - but under-estimating can lead to you not having enough insurance in place.

It’s likely your insurer will have a single-item value limit as part of your renters insurance policy. This means you’ll need to declare some of your belongings separately on your policy if they’re valued above a certain amount – usually around £1,500, but it’ll depend on the cover you take out.

Things that might exceed the single-item limit include:

  • Watches and jewellery

  • Expensive gadgets

  • Musical instruments

  • Designer bags

  • Bicycles

  • Antiques

  • Works of art

It’s also worth noting that some policies might have a maximum claim limit, so the most your insurer would pay out for one of your belongings is set at a certain amount – for example, around £5,000 – even if it was worth more.

It’s important to read your policy documents carefully so you know exactly what you’ll be covered for, and whether there are any limits on the value of belongings you can claim for.

Do you need home insurance if you’re only renting?

You don’t necessarily need to take out any home insurance if you’re renting in the UK, but as discussed having tenants insurance can be useful if something should happen to your belongings. You won’t need to take out buildings insurance as this is your landlord’s responsibility - they should take out a specific landlord insurance policy that covers them for renting to others.

Home insurance itself isn’t mandatory for anyone, but if you’re a homeowner then it’s your responsibility to take out both contents and buildings cover for your property.

How much is renters insurance?

The average cost of renters insurance will depend on a few crucial factors, including where you live and the amount of cover you want to take out. Some areas see higher crime rates and are therefore at greater risk of theft or vandalism, while other areas may be at a higher risk of flooding due to their proximity to bodies of water. The higher the risk of making a claim is associated with your property, the more likely you’ll need to pay for cover.

If you’ve got lots of items that need to be covered, especially high-value items, then the total amount of protection you’ll need with your policy will be higher. As such, this can also mean your premiums are more expensive than those that need less cover.

This is why it’s so important to compare renters insurance policies before buying - and it’s easy with MoneySuperMarket. Just tell us a bit about yourself, where you live and the belongings you need to cover, and we’ll show you deals from the biggest providers on the market.

You can compare them by the overall cost of cover, the protection you get, and the excess you’ll need to pay. Once you’ve found the one you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.

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