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What is tenant insurance?

Tenant insurance is similar to home insurance, but it is for people who rent (rather than own) their home. Some people call it renter's insurance.

Your landlord will have their own insurance, but it does not extend to you or your things. Many landlords will require you to take out a tenant insurance policy as a condition of your lease.

Tenant insurance includes:

Contents coverage for your belongings, whether they're in your house, in your car or with you on your travels.

Living expenses coverage to help with hotel costs and expenses while affected or displaced from an insured loss.

Liability coverage should you be sued by someone who visits your home, or lives in another unit.

This protection could prove invaluable in the event of a disaster, and it is available for just a few dollars per month. If you pay rent, you should have a tenant insurance policy.

Tenant insurance in Canada

Tenants in Canada may not own the homes they live in, but they still value their possessions and safety as much as any homeowner does. That’s why tenant insurance is so important. It provides protection for the contents of your home against things like fire or theft. Also, it can protect you from liability related to damage caused by you or the injury of someone else on your property.

 

Tenant insurance coverage

Tenant insurance covers:
 

  1. Contents for your possessions:
    Nobody counts on anything bad happening to them but it’s still important to prepare. A break-in or damage to your home’s contents as a result of fire, can lead to high replacement costs and financial stress. The bonus of tenant insurance is that it also provides peace of mind, beyond the financial settlements. Tenant insurance coverage protects your possessions outside of your home. If your bike is stolen from outside of your office, or you leave your laptop in the back of a cab, tenant insurance will help with replacement costs. More expensive items like jewelry, fine art or even expensive spirits can be added on as riders or endorsements to your coverage. You can talk to your broker or insurance provider about the extra coverage you may require.
     
  2. Renter’s liability if you’re sued for property damage or personal injury:
    Another form of protection you may need is from lawsuits and liability claims. Let’s say you are living in a rented space adjacent to another property. Your tenant insurance can protect you from any damage you cause to that property. Also, what if someone slips and hurts themselves on your property, and decides to sue you. This is also covered by your tenant insurance. The minimal recommended coverage is $100,000 but if it is within your means, it might make sense to go higher for potential liability risks.
     
  3. Living expenses, should your home become temporarily uninhabitable:
    There are times where damage to your property makes living there impossible. Your tenant insurance can help cover the costs of temporary living arrangements while you are displaced, and can also cover things like food and transportation. Some insurance policies cap living expenses so make sure to talk to your provider and understand what is available to you should you need to move temporarily.

Is tenant insurance mandatory?

Tenant insurance in Canada is not mandatory. But consider the costs of replacing or repairing damaged items against the cost of insurance. Even small damages can add up to high replacement costs. The peace of mind you get with tenant insurance helps you to know you are financially (and sometimes emotionally) protected should the need arise.

Also, most landlords require tenant insurance as part of their lease agreement, ensuring they are not on the hook for your personal possessions or liability issues.

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What does tenant insurance cover?

Tenant insurance covers your possessions, living expenses and your personal liability. According to Statistics Canada, about one third of Canadians rent their home, but only half of these renters have tenant insurance. By opting out, millions of Canadians are taking a on a huge financial risk.

 

How does tenant insurance protect my belongings?

Consider how much stuff you own and how much it would cost to replace it all. Replacing furniture, electronics, clothing and everything else in one go, is beyond the financial capability of most people. Even a less than total loss, like a burglary, can result in financial stress. A tenant insurance policy protects your belongings in the event of damage or theft.

Did you know your possessions are not only covered while in your home, but outside of your home too? That means if your new camera goes missing while you are on holiday, or your golf clubs are stolen from your car, tenant insurance will help.

The insurer would require purchase details like a receipt or invoice of the stolen, damaged, or lost item and the expense of fixing the item or purchasing a replacement of the same. Once the insurer determines the value of the item, they will create an estimate of repair or replacement and make you an offer. You may or may not get the full value of the product you lost or damaged depending on your policy deductibles.
 

 

When would I need insurance for living expenses?

If you're not able to live in your apartment while repairs are being made after an insured loss, your tenant insurance policy will help with expenses until you can move back in. For example, hotel bills, restaurant meals, and moving costs may be covered, as they're expenses you wouldn't have to pay if you were at home.
 

 

What is liability coverage and why do I need it?

Personal liability lawsuits can have huge financial implications for those found responsible, often costing millions of dollars. Liability coverage as part of a tenant insurance policy could save you from financial ruin.

Imagine a kitchen fire, which then spreads to a common area, or a faucet left running, which floods the unit below. Whether it is due to carelessness or bad luck, these things happen, and if they happen to you, you will want help with the ensuing legal costs.

There's also the slip and fall risk. If a visitor wipes out in your unit and is hurt, you may be liable for the costs associated with their medical expenses, rehab efforts, and time away from work.

You can always increase your liability coverage if you want additional protection.

What isn't covered by tenant insurance?

Tenant insurance covers most items in your home but limits coverage to high priced items like jewelry, art or other valuable antiques, for example.

In order to receive coverage for these types of items, speak to your broker or provider about extra ‘riders’ or endorsements that separate out specific possessions to be insured. It will add to your costs but save you headaches, and financial and emotional stress should anything happen to your most valued possessions.

How much does tenant insurance cost?

Tenant insurance costs about $200 a year in most parts of Canada. Premiums are based on individual needs, budgetary constraints, where you live, your claims history, your chosen deductible, and the type of building you live in. According to internal data, tenant insurance in Ontario, for example, costs an average of $240 a year, or $20 a month. Tenant insurance in Alberta averages just $168.70 a year, less than $15 a month.

Here is a list of the average tenant insurance price for several major cities in Ontario and Alberta:
 

CityAverage Tenant Insurance Cost
Barrie$209
Brampton$227
Burlington$199
Calgary$182
Cambridge$238
Edmonton$147
Hamilton$203
Kitchener$191
London$201
Markham$201
Mississauga$194
Oshawa$224
St. Catharines$227
Sudbury$328
Toronto$211
Vaughan$288
Windsor$299

Factors that determine your tenant insurance premium

Tenant insurance varies depending on your circumstances. Premiums can differ per renter based on multiple factors, including:

  • Your credit score – This is an indicator to insurance providers of how much of a risk you are. A better score indicates to them your reliability and could lead to a lower premium than someone with a bad credit score.
  • The amount of contents coverage you require – Ottawa insurance rates are directly affected by the amount of contents you need to insure. More items equal higher rates.
  • The location of your home (typically determined by postal code) – While some locations are low risk, perhaps crime-free, and safe, other locations may have higher incidents of break-ins and ultimately pose a higher risk to your contents. Insurance providers will look at that to determine rates.
  • The construction of your unit (e.g., concrete high rise, wood frames, etc.) – A newer home has up to date wiring and electrical systems which pose a minimal risk for fire or damage. Consequently, older homes may have out of date systems that can easily lead to fires, short circuits, and greater incidents of damage.
  • The deductible chosen – A higher deductible generally means lower premiums as you are taking away risks from your Ottawa insurance provider. The lower the deductible, the higher the risk it is for your provider, and the higher the premiums will be.
  • Whether you have some form of a home security system – A home alarm is another tool that reduces the risk of break-ins and insurance claims.
  • Your claims history – The fewer the claims, the less risk you are considered by your provider and the lower your premiums.

Tenant insurance claims

When should I file a tenant insurance claim?

If you are facing a serious loss, and it is covered in your policy, go ahead and make the claim. This financial protection is why you have insurance. If you are dealing with a minor issue and the cost to fix the problem is less than your deductible, keep insurance out of it.

If you do decide to make a claim following an insurable event, contact your insurance company as soon as you can. The window of opportunity to make a claim will close soon after the event as happened.

What documents do I need to file claim?

The documents you need depend on the type of claim you are making.

If you are submitting a claim for stolen possessions, the insurance company will request a copy of the police report, receipts for the lost items, and any other supporting evidence (for example, a photograph of the items in your unit, before they were stolen).

If you are submitting a claim for damaged possessions, insurance companies will request photos, and an explanation of how the damage happened.

For living expense reimbursement, like hotel costs and meals, keep all original receipts to support your submission.

If you are being sued for liability, send a copy of the lawsuit to your insurer as soon as you receive it. They are legally bound to represent you, based on the terms outlined in your policy.

Frequently asked questions about tenant insurance

How can I find the cheapest tenant insurance quote in Canada?

It starts with comparison shopping on sites like InsuranceHotline.com. Once you log on, you’ll be able to input data about your location and insurance needs. We do the rest. You’ll receive the cheapest quotes from the top providers in your area. You can talk to our licensed broker partners about which provider and quote fits your needs.

Will my tenant insurance cover home appliances?

It depends. If you acquire your own appliances or bring them from a previous home, your tenant insurance will cover it. Appliances owned by the landlord are their responsibility as part of the lease agreement, and any maintenance or replacement will come from their pockets.

What is the difference between home insurance and tenant insurance? 

Homeowner insurance is for those who own their home or apartment, and it covers both their personal belongings and the structure of the home. Renters insurance is purchased by tenants, and it covers damage to or theft of their personal property, but not damage to the building itself.

Is renter's insurance the same as tenant insurance? 

Yes. The two terms are used interchangeably. Tenant insurance has a few different names. You might have also heard it called “renters' insurance,” “condo tenant insurance,” or “content insurance.” However you say it, it is a form of protection for tenants who do not own their home.

Why doesn't my landlord's insurance protect me? 

Landlords and tenants have different agendas and things they want to protect. From a landlord’s perspective, they want to protect the physical structure of the building but are not responsible for your personal contents.

If structural damages occur because of a fire or some other damage at an adjacent unit, your landlord’s insurance will cover the cost of renovating or fixing your unit. Contents within the unit are your responsibility and would be covered by your own tenant insurance.

Similarly, if something in your unit causes damage to the building, tenant insurance can help prevent you from paying out of pocket for damages. Tenant insurance can also protect you from legal liability if someone chooses to sue you if the are injured in your home.

Do I need tenant insurance if I'm living in a dorm room at college?

As with many insurance questions, it depends. Some students are covered by their home insurance policies and not need the extra coverage. Some, however, opt to take out tenant insurance in a dorm to protect expensive electronic equipment or other valuables. It’s best to check with your home provider to see what you are covered for and what carries over to you in a dorm setting.

Does tenant's liability insurance protect my dog?

Pets are considered your property and are sometimes protected under the liability portion of your tenant insurance policy. So, if your dog bites someone and the person sues you for damages, for example, your liability insurance can protect you. Pets are only covered under the liability component of a renter's insurance policy.

Some insurance providers do not offer this type of protection. Also, some provinces and/or cities have banned specific dog breeds. Do your research and find out which breeds are allowed in the area you reside in, as that could potentially impact your level of coverage for dog-related incidents. We recommend double checking with your insurer to ensure you're protected.