It’s a good idea for all renters to get tenants insurance for the simple reason that it protects you and your belongings. Letting agents often strongly recommend or insist that renters arrange some form of tenants insurance when they begin a new tenancy. Renters are sometimes reluctant to take out insurance because it may seem unnecessary, and the many types of tenants insurance make the whole process appear complicated. In this article, we discuss exactly what tenants insurance is and why it’s a good idea for those renting in London.
What is tenant insurance?
Tenant insurance is protection against theft or damage to belongings and furniture in a property. There are two types of tenants insurance, each covering slightly different things. One is tenants liability insurance, which protects the furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord, such as sofas and windows, from accidental damage. The other is tenants contents insurance, which protects the tenants’ personal belongings from damage due to fire, flooding, theft, and accidents. In many cases, contents insurance will include liability insurance, but this isn’t a given so check the small print on your particular package.
There are usually two levels of contents insurance too, basic cover and full or comprehensive cover. Exactly what is covered by each may differ between providers, but generally speaking, a basic level of insurance only protects against damage to more expensive items like computers and TVs. Full coverage offers wider security – including things like accidental damage, such as spilling wine on furniture or breaking valuables (vases, ornaments, etc). The type of insurance you should get depends on your particular circumstances.
Reasons to get tenants insurance
The main reason is perhaps obvious, but it’s to protect your belongings from being damaged or stolen. Accidents happen and unfortunate events occur, and while you can take care to minimise the risk of fires, flooding, and theft, it’s not always in your control. Having tenants insurance, especially tenants contents insurance, will give you peace of mind.
In some cases, landlords may have their own form of insurance to protect the property. For example, landlords are responsible for securing home buildings insurance which protects the structure of the property, fixtures, and fittings. If it helps, think of it as covering all the items that will remain in place if you were to tip the property upside down and shake it. This type of insurance, however, doesn’t cover you and your belongings. The landlord may be diligent enough to secure insurance to protect their property, but that doesn’t cover your personal possessions. It’s in your best interest to protect your own belongings.
Another reason to obtain tenants insurance, especially tenants liability insurance, is to increase your chances of receiving your full security deposit at the end of your tenancy. Many of the reasons why landlords keep security deposits are covered by tenants liability insurance, so if accidents do happen, your insurance will deal with it and ensure you receive your deposit back once you vacate the property.
Tips for buying tenants insurance
It’s important that you shop around to find the right provider for you. Insurance providers differ greatly in their pricing and what they offer, so doing your homework is strongly advised in order to get the best deal. Comparison websites, such as MoneySuperMarket, GoCompare, and CompareTheMarket can be very helpful here.
Pricing can range from around £40 to £100 or more per year, payment plans can be either monthly or annually, and the amount covered can be between £4000 and £10,000. With so much choice out there, finding the right deal can take some time, but your wallet will thank you in the long run.
Living with family vs flat-sharing
It’s generally easier to secure tenants insurance when you’re living with family members or a partner than it is if you’re sharing accommodation with non-family members. Living as a family, you can simply get tenants insurance that covers the whole house. If you’re living with others, it can be a little more complicated.
When sharing a property with non-family members, you have two choices for tenants insurance. You can either take out insurance that covers the entire property, or just your room. In both cases, most insurance companies are more reluctant to offer (affordable) quotes. The reason being that shared accommodations come with a noticeably higher risk of theft or damage occurring due to the number of people who will have access to the house. If a house is shared between three strangers, then three different friendship groups are likely to have regular access to the property.
If you opt for insurance that covers just your room then you need to be aware of two things. For one, if you have belongings in the communal areas of the property (i.e. living room, kitchen, etc) then your tenants insurance will not cover you if they are stolen or damaged. Secondly, you must have a lock on your bedroom door and must lock it every time you leave the house. Failing to do so will undermine your insurance claim should something happen.
In short, while tenants insurance may not be essential, there are many strong arguments in favour of obtaining it. It’s a case of “better safe than sorry”, and this rings even truer if you are sharing a property with non-family members.
If you’re renting or looking to rent in the South-West London area, get in touch with us at James Anderson for more information. We pride ourselves on our expertise in the property industry and personal service. Also, be sure to check out our blog, which we update regularly, for more guides and industry insights.