While a landlord’s home insurance covers their property and belongings, renters with valuables often turn to something known as tenant insurance to protect their interests.
But what is tenant insurance, exactly? Is it mandatory? Keep reading as we answer these questions and more.
What is Tenant Insurance?
Tenant insurance (also referred to as renter’s insurance) helps renters cover the cost of replacing or repairing their personal belongings in the event of an incident (i.e. fire or break-in) on the property.
These policies exist because, without them, tenants would have to cover these damages out-of-pocket.
Even those who live modestly often have belongings that would cost quite a bit of cash to replace (i.e. laptops and jewelry), which makes tenant insurance a very valuable thing to have.
Tenant insurance offers many benefits beyond coverage for personal belongings, too. Keep reading to learn more.
What Does Tenant Insurance Cover?
Tenant insurance coverage typically includes benefits such as the following.
Repair or Replacement of Contents
As mentioned in the previous section, tenant insurance typically covers the cost of repairing or replacing a renter’s possessions in the event of theft or damage.
Note that particularly expensive items (such as jewelry) may not be fully covered by a basic tenant insurance policy. Renters may need to specify their intent to insure these items when signing up for a policy as companies may consider that to be an add-on.
If a rental property is rendered uninhabitable due to an eligible incident (i.e. fire or flood), tenant insurance can cover the costs of relocating, including purchasing meals one otherwise would have cooked at home.
Liability coverage protects a tenant financially in the event that someone else faces damages in relation to the rental property. For example, if a guest slips and injures themselves because the floor was wet, tenant insurance may reimburse the renter in the event of a lawsuit.
Liability coverage may also pay for damages arising from, say, a fire that affects the tenant’s neighbor.
What Doesn’t Tenant Insurance Cover?
Here are a few common exceptions to tenant insurance coverage.
While tenant’s insurance may cover the cost of replacing items stolen from a tenant’s car, damage to the vehicle itself would need to be addressed with their car insurance provider, assuming they have comprehensive coverage (read more about what that is in our glossary).
If bed bugs (or any other pest) wreak havoc on a renter’s belongings, tenant insurance would typically not cover the cost of repair or replacement. It also wouldn’t pay for the cost of dealing with the infestation.
Damage Caused by Certain Dog Breeds
Renters who have dogs considered “high-risk” by their insurance provider would typically not receive coverage for liability in the event that the dog bites someone or causes property damage.
Damage to the Building
While tenant insurance will cover the cost of replacing a renter’s belongings after a fire or flood, repairing actual damage to the building will typically need to be addressed with the landlord’s home insurance provider.
Tenant Insurance Coverage Amounts
Now that you know what tenant insurance covers and what it doesn’t, let’s look at typical coverage amounts.
For personal belongings, people will often get at least $20,000 worth of coverage. Tenants who have especially valuable items (i.e. jewelry, gold, etc) may go much higher.
With liability insurance, $100,000 is generally the minimum with $2 million being the ideal spot for tenants who can afford it.
When it comes to coverage for relocation costs, tenants typically allocate enough funds to cover housing for a full year. Check out this post for more information about why tenant insurance is a good idea.
Is Tenant Insurance Mandatory in Ontario?
Provincial law does not mandate tenant insurance in Ontario. However, landlords often require tenants to purchase insurance in order to qualify for a lease.
This reduces a landlord’s liability in the event of an incident on their property. The fear is that tenants without insurance will attempt to recoup their costs from the landlord.
Even though these attempts are often legally unfounded (remember, a landlord’s insurance covers their belongings and property, not the tenant’s), it can be a frustrating experience.
The tenant insurance requirement also helps screen potential renters. A tenant who is unable to afford insurance would raise a red flag given how affordable it is (more on this shortly), as would someone unable to qualify for coverage. Check out this article for more information about why tenant insurance is so important.
Cost of Tenant Insurance
In Ontario, tenant insurance typically costs between $20 and $30 per month. The cost can vary, however, depending on factors such as location, what coverage is needed, and insurance history.
At Surex, we make shopping for tenant insurance a breeze. If you’re looking for coverage, click here to start a quote. A live agent will get in touch to understand your needs and identify the most affordable policy based on them.
What is a Tenant Insurance Deductible?
A tenant insurance deductible is an amount the renter will have to cover before the policy kicks in. For example, a deductible of $5,000 would mean the tenant has to cover the first $5,000 of a claim. The insurance company would cover eligible expenses in excess of that.
When shopping for tenant insurance, it’s important that you keep the deductible in mind. While a higher deductible will result in a lower premium, you’ll ultimately have to pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim, which may not always be worth it.
Do I Need Renter’s Insurance?
Given that coverage isn’t required by law in Ontario, many renters find themselves asking, “do I need tenant insurance?”
A simple way to answer this question would be to pose another: would I be able to cover the cost of a worst-case-scenario without flinching?
A worst-case-scenario could mean an accident on the property you’re renting damages not just your belongings but also someone else’s. In such an instance, you may be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.
Most people don’t have that sort of money lying around, which is why tenant insurance exists. For a relatively small amount of money, you can have peace of mind.
However, if you do decide that you do not need renter's insurance, you should potentially look into getting strata insurance if that applies to you. To learn more, you can read this post on what does strata insurance cover in BC.
Tenant Insurance for Students: Do You Need It?
Now, there are situations in which tenant insurance is legitimately not required. For example, students living temporarily away from home may have their belongings covered by their parents’ home insurance policy.
A Surex advisor can help you determine whether these or other exceptions might apply.
Generally speaking, however, tenant insurance is a cheap means of covering your bases when renting.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is tenant insurance?
Tenant insurance typically costs between $20 and $30 per month. The exact amount can vary, however, depending on various factors, including your location and insurance record.
How do you get tenant insurance?
Surex helps you compare quotes from a variety of tenant insurance companies to find the best match. Once you’ve found a policy you like, we’ll also help you secure it.
How long does it take to get tenant insurance?
You can receive a tenant insurance policy within an hour. It’s not a very long process at all!
How do you renew tenant insurance?
Tenant insurance typically renews automatically. Your rates may change upon the policy’s renewal, however, so be sure to review the new documents in advance.
Is tenant insurance the same as renter’s insurance?
Tenant insurance and renter’s insurance are indeed the same. They are policies purchased by a renter to protect themselves financially.
Do you need home insurance as a renter?
You don’t need conventional home insurance as a renter; the landlord is responsible for securing such a policy if one is needed. However, landlords often require that tenants have a tenant insurance policy to protect their own belongings and absorb third-party liability.
Does tenant insurance cover natural disasters?
Tenant insurance policies may cover certain types of natural disasters. Earthquakes and floods are two common exceptions; companies usually offer coverage for these events at an added cost.
What information do I have to provide for a tenant insurance quote?
You’ll need to provide personal information (including your name and date of birth) along with information about the property you’re renting.
What is the claims process for tenant insurance?
The process can vary depending on the insurance company. Generally, though, you’ll need to submit information about the losses incurred (including photographs, if possible) and someone from the company will be in touch to assist you further.
Is tenant insurance mandatory?
Tenant insurance is not required by law although many landlords list it as a lease condition.
Does landlord insurance cover tenant damage?
A landlord’s insurance policy may cover tenant damage (i.e. vandalism or accidental destruction of property). However, it depends on the policy, including factors such as the landlord’s deductible.
Does each tenant need renter’s insurance?
Typically, a tenant insurance policy covers only the policyholder’s belongings. You can purchase insurance jointly, however, but don’t assume you’re automatically covered by your housemate’s policy because you probably aren’t unless specified.