All too often people think they’ll never need contents insurance and decide to rent a home without it. And some renters – often known as ‘tenants’ – think they don’t need it because their possessions are protected by their landlord’s insurance, which they most probably aren’t.
Either way, you’re taking a big risk by not taking out contents insurance while renting. It’s true that you might never need it – we all hope you’ll never need it – but you just never know what might happen in the future.
Contents insurance gives you peace of mind that the value of the items you own won’t be lost in the event of a fire, flood, theft, or any other scenario (which we’ll cover later).
In this guide to contents insurance for renters, we’ll explain what it is, why you might need it and how you can get the best deal for your situation.
Just here to find the best deal? here's how.
What is contents insurance?
It’s the type of home insurance that protects the value of your personal belongings if worse comes to worst while you’re renting. You might hear contents insurance mentioned alongside things like ‘buildings insurance’. But it’s important to know the difference.
You might think that your items are covered by your landlord’s building insurance, but this usually only covers the building itself – things like the walls, floors, ceilings, roof, plumbing. If anything were to happen to your personal items, the chances are you wouldn’t be compensated if you relied on your landlord’s insurance.
This is where contents insurance comes in. It protects your personal items’ value so that you don’t lose out financially should anything bad happen, such as theft, fire or flooding.
Your insurance is based on the combined value of the items you own – the more valuable your items are, the more you’ll typically pay for contents insurance.
What is covered by contents insurance?
Contents insurance – you guessed it – covers the contents of your home. These are the items that you own and that aren’t part of the building’s structure itself.
Imagine this: you tip your house upside down. Whatever falls out comes under ‘contents insurance’; whatever doesn’t fall out is part of the building and comes under ‘buildings insurance’.
Different contents insurance policies cover different specific items and different scenarios, but you’ll find that most contents insurance policies cover:
- Your items that are damaged because of flooding, storms or fire
- Items that are stolen
- Items damaged through vandalism (such as in the garden)
- Cash that’s stolen from your home
- The value of food that might be spoiled because your fridge or freezer breaks down
Because different insurance providers offer different types of cover, it helps to shop around and take a look at what all the providers can offer you. Later on we’ll take you through the steps to getting the best contents insurance deal for you.
What isn’t covered by contents insurance?
Not everything you own will necessarily be covered by your contents insurance, and there’ll probably be scenarios your insurance won’t cover.
The main exceptions that usually aren’t covered by contents insurance are:
- Normal damage caused by regular wear and tear
- If you’re not at home for more than 30 consecutive days
- Accidental damage
- Some high-value items – these might be worth so much that they need to be insured separately
- If your home is burgled but there was no sign that the burglars forced their way in – essentially if you left your door unlocked or something like that
- Items you use outside of your home
- Items used for your business
If you have items on this list – for example, items used for your business that you keep at home, or items covered outside the home – it doesn’t mean you definitely won’t be able to get contents insurance to cover them. It just means you might need to ask insurers to add extra items onto your cover.
A lot of insurers have systems that allow for bespoke insurance policies like this, with additional ‘add-ons’ that you can choose when you compare quotes and purchase – more on how to find the best deal below.
How much is contents insurance for renters?
The simple answer to this is that it totally depends where you look (which particular insurers and comparison sites, for example) and on your personal circumstances (where you live or your home’s security, for example). Insurers will weigh up the risk of something happening in your specific neighbourhood and to your particular home that might put your items at risk, and they’ll use that for your tenants’ insurance quote.
Your insurance is based on the combined value of the items you own – the more valuable your items are, the more contents insurance you’ll pay.
Data from MoneySuperMarket’s UK Price Index shows that the average cost of contents insurance is around £57 per year in 2021. When you think that £57 is just a couple of takeaways, contents insurance doesn't sound so expensive, does it?
One thing’s for sure: it’s definitely worth shopping around when you’re looking for contents insurance while renting. There are a lot of insurers, each with their own pros and cons, so you’ll thank yourself if you do some digging into what works best for you.
Comparison sites are your best friend when you’re looking for a great deal. Using them only takes a few minutes and could save you a load of money. Later in this guide we’ll take you through how to find the best deal on content insurance.
How much contents insurance do I need?
The amount you insure your items for will depend entirely on how much stuff you own, and how much it’s worth.
It’s important not to be too vague when totting up the value of your items – if you underestimate the value of your possessions you might not get as much money back as you need if you happen to make a claim in the future; and if you overestimate the value you’ll probably end up paying more than you need to for your insurance.
And you might be surprised about the combined value of your personal items. You might think ‘how do I own £35k’s worth of stuff?!’ But remember that it’s the value of replacing the item brand new, so the total value of your contents quickly adds up.
All in all, it’s important to give accurate amounts to your insurer – this’ll make sure you don’t lose out if anything bad happens. Nuts about Money exists to help you save money, and this is one of those areas where you might need to pay fractionally more for your insurance to make sure you don’t lose money in the long term.
When should I take out contents insurance?
There are no rules around when you should take out contents insurance. Of course, the earliest you could get insurance is from the day you move in, but you can take out insurance for your items at any time during your tenancy.
It’s worth us saying too that there’s no legal requirement for you to take out contents insurance. After all, it’s your personal items on the line, not anyone else’s. But we recommend having insurance for the items you own.
How to find the best deal on renters contents insurance
Maybe you’ve already had a peek at some contents insurance providers to see what’s on the market, and have been bamboozled by the amount of choice there is. We hear you – that’s why we exist!
Or maybe you don’t even know where to start with insurance for your items, and you found our guide as a starting point. We hear you too! We’re here to help.
It can seem overwhelming when you’re thinking about insurance and finance services. It’s not as if we were ever taught how to manage our finances, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t know where to start.
Happily there are a few ways to go about getting renters contents insurance. Here are the key steps:
1. Let comparison sites do the hard work for you
Comparison sites are your friend. They analyse loads of insurance providers, break down their policies and give you a straightforward comparison of each. And they do this all for free!
All you need to do is put in some of your details – things like where you live, whether you own the property, how many people live there – and they’ll search for you. They’ll gather policies covering a wide range of contents insurance options, from the biggest household names to some lesser-known but trustworthy – and potentially cheaper – alternative providers.
Something to remember is that each comparison site has its own unique set of insurers they search, although there’s loads of overlap, so you’ll see the same companies on all, but it means you’ll get a slightly different set of results from each. And that’s okay! All this means is that it’s worth you taking the time to check your results from various comparison sites.
Of course we don’t expect you to trawl through every single deal on every single comparison site. It makes sense to start with one, then move onto a second and even a third if you have time. It generally takes around five minutes to enter your details and get some quotes on comparison sites.
Here are the top 4 sites we recommend for contents insurance, start at the top and work your way down! If you’re pushed for time, just search the top 1 or 2 – we’ve ordered them for the range of insurers they search and for speed.
What happens once you’ve got your comparison site quotes? Generally there’ll be a link to the deal on the insurer’s own site, and there you can see the deal in more detail – you should be able to see exactly what’s covered and work out whether it’s right for you. Be wary of providers upselling though! This is when they’ll try to get you to sign up for additional items to be covered in your insurance. Think carefully about whether you need these before you confirm your contents insurance.
2. Check out direct deals
While comparison sites are a must when you’re looking for a contents insurance deal, it can also be worthwhile checking out deals directly with providers. Sometimes providers don’t give comparison sites full access to their deals, so make sure you’re not missing out.
Direct Line is a key insurance provider that you won’t find on comparison sites. It’s worth getting a quote from them to see how it stacks up with the other providers. It might take a bit more time doing it this way, so we totally get it if it’ll take too long for you. But it can be a great way to get a deal that’s better for you.
Remember, getting a quote for insurance doesn’t mean you’re committing to taking out insurance with that provider, so it helps to shop around.
3. Check out our recommended provider
There are some insurance providers that might not be household names (yet) but that can still offer you a great deal and often even better customer service.
One of the best we’ve come across is Urban Jungle.
You might have seen Urban Jungle on some comparison sites, but if you haven’t you should check them out. Get a quote directly with them – it only takes a few minutes – and you might kick yourself if you don’t.
What’s great about Urban Jungle is that their insurance cover is designed for renters:
- Their contents insurance covers the whole home
- It includes protection for you and up to 6 unrelated people
- It covers the landlord’s items and furniture (tenants liability cover)
- It also covers all of your items outside of the home
- And their policies offer cover up to £40,000 per person.
Urban Jungle is all online and takes just a few minutes to apply – say goodbye to time-consuming phone calls and being put on hold.
Sound good to you? Get £20 off too¹.
Future tip: don't auto renew
It might sound like a pain, but hopefully by now you’ve seen how easy it is to search for new contents insurance deals.
When your insurance policy ends – this’ll depend on the length of your contract, but for this example let’s say 12 months – don’t just let it renew for another 12. A lot of insurers raise prices after that first 12 months – sneaky, right? – so you could save money if you shop around when your first 12 months are nearly up.
How to make a contents insurance claim
If any of the items covered by your contents insurance or lost or damaged, here’s what you should do.
- If a crime’s been committed, call the police. And make a note of the incident number, if they give you one.
- Contact your insurer. They should have a dedicated phone number for claims.
- Give your insurer as much detail as possible. If your item(s) have been genuinely lost, stolen or damaged, it’ll help your case to be as descriptive and detailed as possible when you’re talking to your insurer.
Learn more about making a claim on contents insurance.
Do I need to pay an excess for my contents insurance claim?
Generally, contents insurance policies come with what’s called a ‘compulsory excess’. This is the amount of your claim that you will pay. For example, if your laptop gets stolen and you make a claim for £700, and your compulsory excess is £50, you’ll get £650 from your insurer and you’ll pay the additional £50.
You might also have an additional ‘voluntary excess’. You can choose whether you have this on your policy, and you can choose how much it’ll be.
Usually, the higher your excess, the lower your overall contents insurance will cost you. But remember that if you opt for a higher excess in order to get a cheaper overall insurance deal, you’ll need to make sure you can afford to make up the items(s) cost if you need to make a claim.
All set to get covered
To be honest, we’re not surprised you’re here. Insurance is way too complicated and you just haven’t been given the knowledge and the tools to get the best deal for you and your home. In this guide we’ve covered the essentials you need to know when you’re looking for contents insurance for tenants.
To summarise what we’ve covered:
Contents insurance is important – you might not think you need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Most of your items will be covered by contents insurance, so you’ll have peace of mind that you won’t lose out if the worst happens.
There’s no one-size-fits-all contents insurance – it all depends on the value of the items you own.
So shop around to get the best deal for you! Just follow our steps to find the best deal, and you'll be sorted in no time.
We exist to help ease your money worries, so we hope that with this guide to contents insurance for renters you’ve gained some knowledge about this tricky topic.