Tenant contents insurance: Do I need it?

With the UK winter comes storms. And that can mean severe flooding.

A common misconception among many tenants is that their landlord is responsible for all the insurance policies relating to their rental property.

This is not the case. And in answer to the question posed above: Yes, you do!

Most winters in the UK see dozens of areas of the country affected by severe flooding, causing damage to properties inside and out.

But a good contents insurance policy doesn't just protect you from the flood water. Fire and theft cover is also included in most policies and while these kind of events are rare, the peace of mind provided by good cover is priceless.


WHAT INSURANCE IS MY LANDLORD RESPONSIBLE FOR?

Your landlord is obligated to provide buildings insurance cover for their rental property. But unless the property is furnished by your landlord, in which case they should provide contents insurance for those items, it is your responsibility as a tenant to insure your belongings.

If the worst happens and your possessions are damaged in a fire or flood, for example, it is not your landlord's responsibility. And most will be unlikely to offer much in the way of sympathy should their tenant failed to have taken out a contents insurance policy.


DO MOST TENANTS TAKE OUT CONTENTS INSURANCE?

You'd like to think so, but sadly this is not the case.

A 2017 survey by HomeLet revealed 40% of tenants do not have contents insurance. Moreover, this figure jumps to 50% for those under 40, who are far more likely to be renting than older demographics.


WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A CONTENTS INSURANCE POLICY?

Most contents insurance policies will protect everything that can be taken with you when you move home from fire, theft and flooding.

This could include:

* Furniture

* Clothes

* Electronics

* Kitchen appliances

* Toys and ornaments

* Jewellery


HOW MUCH DOES A CONTENTS INSURANCE POLICY COST?

This varies from insurer to insurer and will depend on the type of policy you take out.

Most insurers offer indemnity policies and old for new policies. While indemnity policies may have cheaper monthly premiums, they take into account wear, tear and age of your belongings.

So, if your 10-year-old sofa is written off in a flood, they will only pay out what the sofa was worth as a 10-year-old item with 10-year wear and tear.

Old for new policies, meanwhile, mean your payout will cover a brand new replacement item.


HOW MUCH SHOULD I INSURE MY BELONGINGS FOR?

Put simply, insure them for what they are worth. And make sure you include everything, even older, easy-to-forget items stashed away in the attic.

You'll be surprised, when you go through each room of your rental property and add up what you own in monetary terms, just how much your things are worth.

It's usually at that stage that the contents insurance penny drops!


THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN IT COMES TO CONTENTS INSURANCE

While contents insurance is very much a 'must have' for tenants, care should be taken when looking over each policy being considered.

Check what exclusions each insurer has on the proposed policy. And most importantly, check the excess amounts - you don't want to pay over the odds.

Go through each policy proposal with a fine tooth comb and don't simply buy one because the premium is cheaper.

Cheaper is not always 'better' and there is little point in having a policy that won't cover certain items in the event of a claim.



If you are unsure whether your contents are insured by your landlord or not, check your tenancy agreement or speak to your local office.



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