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Do you need contents insurance when renting?

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One of the major benefits of renting is that you’re not responsible for making structural repairs to your home or insuring the building itself. That falls to your landlord. However, the possessions you have in your home are not covered by your landlord’s insurance policy. Instead, you’ll need contents insurance if you want to protect your belongings at home.  

We look at why contents insurance can be beneficial for renters and what kind of cover and policy features they might be offered by insurers. We also look at how much contents insurance is for renters in the UK and some tips for finding the best deal.

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Why renters might want contents insurance

A recent survey indicates that around half of renters in the UK might not have any contents insurance cover to financially protect the belongings in their home. This means that were something to happen which meant that some or all of their belongings at home were stolen, damaged, or destroyed, the renter would have to cover any replacement costs themselves.

With the average value of contents in a house in the UK estimated at being somewhere between £25,000 - £35,000, not having any financial protection for this can feel like a risk for renters. 
While policies and levels of cover do vary, contents insurance would typically cover renters for eventualities including:


If your home is broken into and belongings are stolen, you will be able to claim on your contents insurance for their value.

Water leaks or burst pipes

If you experience an escape of water in your rented home, from a burst pipe or another kind of water leak, your contents insurance will usually cover the cost of the damage caused by this. Find out more about how to prevent water damage in your home.


If there is a fire in your home that destroys some of your possessions, contents insurance could cover the cost of replacing them.


If your home floods, the damage that this causes to your belongings should be covered by your contents insurance. You can also find out more about what to do if your home floods.

Storms and other weather damage

If your belongings are damaged or destroyed by storms or other weather events, contents insurance can help cover the cost of replacing your possessions. This usually doesn’t apply to fencing damaged by storms. 

Types of contents insurance for renters

There are two main types of contents insurance for renters and homeowners, which are usually referred to as:

New-for-old contents insurance

This kind of policy means that if your belongings need to be replaced, the insurance will cover the cost of a brand-new replacement, regardless of the age of the original item.

Indemnity contents insurance

This kind of policy is usually cheaper and will only pay out the value of any items stolen, damaged, or destroyed at the time of the incident. This means that if you have a TV that is five years old which you claim for, you will receive the value of a five-year-old TV, rather than the money needed to buy a brand-new TV.

Most contents insurance policies these days will be ‘new-for-old’, but it’s important to check before you buy. 

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What kinds of belongings are covered by contents insurance?

For renters, contents insurance will usually cover all of their possessions in the home, including things such as furniture and appliances, if they were not provided by the landlord. Some of the most common kinds of belongings that content insurance helps to protect include:

  • Clothing
  • Jewellery & watches
  • Cameras
  • Laptops, desktop computers and tablet devices
  • Items of furniture
  • White goods, such as fridges, freezers and washing machines
  • Musical instruments
  • Art or antiques
  • Curtains
  • Bedding

A good rule of thumb is that anything you’d be taking with you if you moved home is usually covered by contents insurance, although some high-value items might need separate cover.

Many insurers will include cover for possessions kept in a secured shed or outbuilding as standard too.

Because policies do vary, it’s important to check the small print before you sign up for contents insurance to make sure that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered. 

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What ISN’T covered by contents insurance?

While different insurers do sometimes have other exclusions, in general, you can expect that contents insurance will not cover things such as:

  • Possessions that have been damaged through wear and tear
  • Possessions that have been damaged or stolen through negligence or lack of appropriate maintenance
  • High-value individual items that exceed your policy’s limit (each policy can have its own rules on this) if they haven’t been listed separately as required
  • Belongings that were stolen, damaged or destroyed when taken outside of your home, unless your specific policy also covers this
  • Equipment or devices that are used for business – so if you work from home using your employer’s equipment, or run your own business at home, the business will need to insure this separately for it to be covered
  • Damage caused by pets or by pest infestations
  • Possessions stolen from or destroyed in your home if you have left it unoccupied for a long period (usually over 30 days). 

What extra features can be included in contents insurance for renters?

Many insurers offer additional extras to content insurance policies for renters (often for an added cost), or some firms might include some of them as standard. This is why it’s important to make sure you fully understand the cover being offered before taking it out. Some of the extra features often offered with a contents insurance policy if you rent your home can include:

Cover for accidental damage of your possessions

This will cover belongings if they are accidentally damaged by you or someone else in your home and need to be repaired or replaced. For example, a window smashed by a ball or if you knock over your TV. It usually won’t cover damage caused by pets. For example, if your dog chews on an item of furniture.

Tenants’ liability cover

This kind of cover means that if the renter accidentally damages something belonging to the landlord, including fixtures and fittings, you can claim for the cost via your contents insurance policy.

Cover for some portable belongings outside of the home

If you have some belongings that you regularly take outside of the home, they can sometimes be covered by this add-on to your contents insurance policy. This could include things like a purse or bag, a watch or jewellery that you’re wearing, a laptop or tablet device, or even a bicycle (subject to certain conditions). This is often referred to as ‘personal possessions cover’ or ‘away from home cover.

As most of these options will increase the cost of your contents insurance premium, it’s important to make sure you need this level of cover first. 

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How much does contents insurance cost in the UK?

There are lots of factors that have an impact on the cost of contents insurance for renters, including:

  • Where you live
  • The value of your possessions (the higher the value of your belongings, the higher the premium)
  • If your home has been flooded in the past or has a high flood risk
  • Any past claims you have made on home insurance policies
  • The security of your home and any additional security measures in place
  • The amount of excess you agree to pay on any potential claims
  • Whether you pay your premium annually or monthly

Try using an insurance comparison site to get a range of quotes from different insurers to understand how much content insurance might cost for you in your home. 

Tips for finding cheaper contents insurance

There are some things you can do to help find the best possible deal on your renters’ contents insurance. These include:

  • Don’t just guess at the value of your belongings as you might end up paying for more cover than you need. Write a list of your belongings down to make sure you don’t forget anything. Some insurers offer a calculator on their website to help you come to a more accurate valuation.
  • Use comparison sites to get a range of quotes from different insurers for the same level of cover
  • Choose a higher excess on your policy if you can afford to. This will usually lower your premium, but means you’ll need to cover more of the cost yourself if you do need to make a claim
  • Pay annually if you can, as normally interest is charged if paying monthly and sometimes admin fees are also added, which means paying more overall for the same cover.