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Tenant insurance for your belongings

Your landlord's policy will cover the physical building or the unit you live in, but it does not include your personal property, such as the stuff you own

For this you'll need a tenant insurance policy.  Consider how much stuff you actually own and how much it would cost to replace in the event of a total loss like fire:  there's furniture, electronics, clothing, housewares, linens, sports equipment, silverware, china, and jewelry to name just a few. The cost to replace everything is often beyond the financial capability of most people. Even a less than total loss, like a burglary, can result in financial stress. A typical tenant insurance policy will protect all of your personal property from damage or theft.

Did you know your possessions are not only covered while in the home, but also outside of the home too, in fact, anywhere in the world? 

That means, if your new camera is stolen while on holiday, or your golf clubs are stolen out of your car, your tenant insurance policy offers coverage.

What does tenant insurance cover?

About one third of Canadians rent their home according to Statistics Canada, yet it's estimated that about half of renters don't have tenant insurance.  Tenant insurance is also often called renter's insurance or contents insurance.  But what is it exactly?

Whether it's tenant insurance in Ontario, British Columbia or Nova Scotia, a tenant insurance policy is typically made up of three main components:

Two more benefits of tenant insurance

Tenant insurance for living expenses

If you're not able to live in your apartment while repairs are being made after an insured loss like fire, your tenant insurance policy will help pay some of the expenses until you're able to move back in. Things like hotel bills, restaurant meals, and moving costs would normally be covered as they're living expenses you wouldn't typically have if you were living in your home.

Tenant insurance for your liability

You may not own your home, but you still may be liable for damage you cause to your unit, the building, or the units of other residents in the building. 

For example, the damage caused by a kitchen fire may not be limited to your own unit, and you could be held responsible for the cost to repair other parts of the building.  The same would be true if you left a faucet on causing water damage to your unit, as well as those beneath or beside you. There's also the slip and fall. If someone wipes out in your unit and is hurt, you could be held liable for the costs associated with their medical expenses, rehab efforts, and time away from work. Liability can have huge financial implications, so it's important to ensure you're protected. 

Frequently asked questions about renter's insurance (FAQs)

How much does tenant insurance cost?

Tenant insurance costs will vary by insurance company. Usually your tenant insurance premium is calculated based on how much coverage you need (the value of your contents for example, or the liability limit you choose), where you live, your claims history, your chosen deductible, and the type of building you live in.

Typically, a tenant insurance policy will run you a couple of hundred dollars a year; about a dollar a day. To illustrate, we ran a quick quote to see how much tenant insurance in Ontario costs (Toronto specifically) and for $50,000 in contents coverage and $1,000,000 in liability the best tenant insurance quote came in at $287; less than $25 a month.

Whether you need tenant insurance in Ontario, tenant insurance in British Columbia, or tenant insurance in Nova Scotia, help. We compare tenant insurance quotes from over 30 insurers to help you get the coverage you need at the best available price.

What isn't covered by tenant insurance?

Some items may be subject to exclusions or maximum limits, and if you want them covered you'll have to add a floater or rider to the policy. Jewelry for example is covered, but up to a limit. Most tenant insurance policies have limits on certain items, and jewelry is one of them.

This means that the maximum the insurer will pay is limited to the amount specified in the policy. Although the maximum will vary, a $5,000 limit is not uncommon. The same may be true for really expensive bikes, or if you own a lot of expensive electronics. Read your policy carefully to determine your exact coverage.

What is the difference between home insurance and tenant insurance? 

Tenants insurance covers your personal belongings (contents) and protects you from liability, while home insurance covers the physical structure of the home in addition to contents and liability.

Homeowners obviously want to protect the house itself, but this isn't necessary for tenants because you are renting and not an owner of the property. If something were to happen to the structure (for example, severe weather damaged the building), property insurance would covered the insured damages. 

Is renter's insurance the same as tenant insurance? 

Yes. These terms are used interchangeably, but they are the same type of coverage. You may also see it listed as contents insurance, tenants insurance, renters insurance, renter insurance and so on. All of these terms describe the same thing, but some companies prefer to use one term over another. 

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

Your landlord will have property insurance on the physical structure of the building, but this will not protect anything in it. If there is a fire that starts three units down and your belongings are destroyed, for example, your landlord's property insurance would cover the structure of the unit and your contents insurance would cover your personal contents in your unit. 

As the renter, liability inside the home shifts to you in the majority of cases. If someone is injured at your house, for example they trip over something on the floor, then your insurance can help protect you from liability. An exception might be if the landlord has failed to ensure your apartment is up to code. In this case, they might be responsible for the liability. 

Also, your renter's insurance can cover you in instances where you or your property causes damage to the building. For example, if your bathtub overflows causing damage to the unit below you, or something heavy significantly damages the flooring. These are reviewed on a case by case basis, but renter's insurance can make all the difference in these situations and save you from having to pay for damages out of pocket.

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

Not necessarily. If you were living at home and were already covered under your parents' home insurance, then coverage likely carries over to your dorm room. However, many students opt to get renter's insurance even when in a dorm room, especially in cases where they have expensive technology or equipment that would be costly to replace. In this case, it's best to get your parents to check with their existing home insurance provider to find out if you're already, or adequately, protected. 

Is tenant insurance mandatory?

It is not mandatory to obtain tenants insurance from a legal perspective, but many landlords and property owners require proof of insurance in order to rent the property out to you. This is to ensure you and your unit are adequately protected. It is not illegal for them to ask this of you. 

Does tenants insurance protect my dog?

Under the liability component of many insurance policies, pets such as dogs are considered your property. This means that if your dog bites someone and the person sues you for damages, for example, then your liability insurance can protect you. Pets are only covered under the liability component of a renter's insurance policy. 

However, not all insurance policies offer this coverage, there may be limits or exclusions on certain breeds and species, or you may be required to inform your insurer about your dog/pet ahead of time in order to be covered under your tenants insurance policy. We recommend double checking with your insurer to ensure you're protected. 

How can I save money on my tenant insurance?

Did you know that if you bundle your tenant insurance policy with your auto insurance company you may qualify for a multi-line discount? It's not just available to people with a home insurance or condo insurance policy. The discount can range from anywhere from five to 15 per cent off of one, or even both of your policies.

More ways to save include:

  • Increase your deductible: this is the amount you are required to pay in the event of a claim. Increasing from $500 to $1,000 reduces your monthly expenses (just make sure you can afford the higher amount).
  • Ask about discounts: There are lots of discounts available for renters including university and alumni discounts, professional association discounts and more. Ask what savings you might be qualified for. 
  • Get enough coverage: Make sure you get adequate contents coverage. Most policies start at $25,000, but if the value of your belongings is more than this (and for many of us it is) you'll want to make sure you have enough to cover your belongings in the event of a claim, thus saving you money on replacement costs. 
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