Savvy renters guide to contents insurance ;

Guide#3 Savvy renters guide to contents insurance

You’ve just been given the tenancy on a new house or flat. You’re over the moon and your mind is on packing up your stuff, paying the deposit, signing the lease, kicking off your shoes and getting settled in to your new abode.

Home and contents insurance will also no doubt be on your to-do list. But just before you rush and get the cheapest policy possible, it’s worth doing a bit of homework and ensuring you get the right cover for your needs. After all, if you ever need to make a claim for your precious possessions, you’ll be really glad you made an informed choice.

In this guide, we give some handy hints and tips for savvy renters on the hunt for the right cover.

You can also keep a copy by downloading a PDF here 

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If you’re renting a furnished flat, it’s up to the landlord to cover the insurance on his or her own possessions. Result! However, it’s not their responsibility to cover all your personal belongings – you’ll need a separate contents insurance policy for that.

Cardboard boxes in a living room
  • Generally, a contents policy covers:
  • Appliances, gadgets and electronics – TVs, laptops, kitchen equipment etc.
  • Clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery
  • Books, CDs, DVDs, digital media
  • Your own furniture and soft furnishings – rugs, curtains, towels, bedding etc.
  • Crockery and cutlery
  • Any outdoor equipment – bikes, lawnmowers etc.
  • Ornaments and heirlooms
  • As well as physical possessions, contents insurance usually covers:
  • Replacement keys and locks, plus locksmith’s fees
  • Loss of food if your freezer breaks down
  • Contents of sheds and outbuildings (although this cover varies from policy to policy)

Also, most insurers offer optional accidental damage insurance – for those red wine or curry spillages on the carpet, or when you drop your iPhone down the loo!

Man and woman looking at Ipad

Like car and home insurance, the amount you pay for contents insurance will depend on where you live.

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While it is up to you to cover your own belongings, your landlord needs to make sure the building is safe and sound, and that the fittings and fixtures are in mint condition.

Here’s a quick tick list of what your landlord needs to be on top of before you move in:

Insuring the property

By property we mean the building, fixtures and fittings. This will also cover the property against any fire or flood damage.

Insuring their contents

If you’re moving into a furnished flat and your landlord has kitted it out with sofas, beds, tables, TVs… the whole kit and caboodle, it’s up to them to insure the contents against theft or fire damage.

Repairs to the building

Lift in the building broken? Hot water tank busted? Electricity switches tripping? All of these things are the responsibility of your landlord. Don’t try to fix them yourself – as you may end up liable. If problems do crop up, speak directly to your landlord or letting agent.

Fire safety

It’s a landlord’s duty to ensure their rental property is fitted with smoke alarms and extinguishers (if the property is a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’). They also need to make sure all soft furnishings comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) Safety Regulations 1998. Look for the fire safety label on all furnishings.

Gas and electricity

If your new flat or house uses gas, the landlord must ensure all appliances, fittings and flues are safe, and that installation, maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe–registered gas installer. Electricity supply and appliances must also be safe, with operating instructions and safety notices supplied before letting starts.

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1 in 5

homes in the UK are owned by landlords

Source: Daily Telegraph

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If something does happen in your rented property then it’s worth knowing who is liable – you or the landlord? Here are some common scenarios that help explain your rights!

Overflowing washing machine
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If you left the tap running and it damages your home or another property, then it’s your responsibility as the tenant to pay for the damage. Notify your landlord of the problem straight away, and find out whether they want you to get someone to fix it, or if they’ll get someone in and you’ll cover the cost.

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Most tenants are given two sets of keys when they move into a property. If you are worried about getting locked out, then give the spare set to a friend or trustworthy neighbour as back up. If you do get locked out and your landlord can’t help you with a spare set should you need to call a locksmith, then it’s within the landlord’s rights to charge any expenses back to you.

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If you’re renting a furnished flat or home with supplied white goods then it’s up to the landlord to fix or replace them when they stop working. But if the washing machine (or any other white goods or appliance) is your own property and it conks out, then unfortunately you’ll have to stump up the cost for repairs/replacement.

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By law, your landlord is responsible for fixtures and fittings in the property – and this includes curtain poles, if they were there when you moved in. Call your landlord and they should arrange a suitable time for someone to come round and fix it. However, if you hauled the curtain pole down by accidently hanging something heavy from the pole, then you could be liable to fix it.

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This is a tricky one and comes down to the wording in your tenancy agreement. Generally speaking, it’s up to your landlord to ensure that your home is secure and that appropriate, working locks are fitted. However, if you snap the key in the lock accidentally get in touch with your landlord as its likely that will be covered by his buildings insurance.

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If a loo is blocked and it’s not your fault, then it’s up to the landlord to get a plumber in to fix it. However, if you’ve put something unsuitable down the loo causing the blockage, then it’s your responsibility. This is because it’s up to you as a tenant to behave in a ‘tenant–like’ way, which means treating the property as your home.

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For more information on your rights and responsibilities in rental housing, visit the Citizens Advice website, and take a look at our blog article on contents insurance cover.

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Man and women laughing in their home

Be accurate

It might be tempting to make an estimate of how much your stuff is worth, but it could leave you short if you need to make a claim. The easiest way to value your possessions is to imagine you’ve been burgled and to go from room to room mentally re–furbishing it.

Don’t forget the little things

Towels, bedding, curtains, placemats, photo frames, lampshades… these all add up. Be fastidious when itemising your belongings.

Keep receipts and take photos

If you buy something expensive, such as a new flatscreen TV, then keep the receipt and take a picture of the item. If you need to make a claim, it will be processed much quicker if you have the proof to back it up.

Antiques and collectibles

Whether it’s your grandfather’s pocket watch or your Star Wars memorabilia, some items can be difficult to value. If in doubt, seek a professional valuation and take out extra insurance cover if necessary.

Home working

In this modern age of flexible working, many of us do our day job from home and assume our contents insurance covers us if our laptop or printer conks out. Wrong! Check your policy and let your insurer know if you need to top up your cover.

Use the internet

If you’re unsure of how much one of your belongings costs do a quick Google search and, if you can’t find the exact item, quote the price of an equivalent.

Re-evaluate every year

When renewing your policy make sure it includes any new valuables – like that shiny new sound system you bought last Christmas.

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The Association of British Insurers estimates that the average 3-bedroom family home contains items worth a total of £55,000

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Somebody filling out an application form

When it comes to insurance, reading the small print is key as it sets out exactly what’s covered. Here, we demystify some common contents insurance terminology, so that you know exactly what you’re signing up to.

Accidental damage

This covers accidents such as smashing a valuable item or spillages. Some contents insurance policies cover accidental damage up to a limit, but you may need to buy it as an added extra. Note that accidental damage doesn’t cover day–to–day wear and tear.

Personal possessions cover

Contents Insurance covers items in your home, while Personal Possessions cover protects items that you frequently take outside of your home, such as mobile phones, jewellery, sports equipment. Personal Possessions cover is usually available as an add–on to your standard Contents Insurance policy.

Legal expenses

This generally covers the legal expenses incurred in most personal injury, consumer, property and employment disputes, as well as for any award of the other party’s legal costs. Most insurers charge an additional premium for it.

New–for–old cover

This means the insurer either pays the full cost of repairing damaged items or pays to replace them with equivalent new items if they’re damaged or stolen.

Single article limit

This is the maximum amount that one item can be covered for on your contents insurance policy.

Tenant liability

If you damage your landlord’s property they may ask you to pay for the repair. Tenant liability might be a mandatory part of your tenancy agreement and, if so, you can get a separate insurance policy to cover this. Check the wording of your policy to see if it’s included or not.

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Three young adults hanging out on a sofa

More and more people in the UK are living in properties where they share facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms, with other people.

If you’re sharing with friends and family then you shouldn’t have to worry about your stuff (we hope!), but if you’re sharing with strangers it pays to take a few precautions:

DO a full inventory of all your belongings when you move in.

DO UV pen your name on gadgets and equipment such as TVs, stereos and games consoles so there’s no mix-up or confusion when someone decides to move out.

DON'T leave your room unlocked when you go out. It might sound extreme, but you don’t want people snooping through your stuff when you’re not there.

DO check your tenancy agreement. If you sign a joint tenancy agreement, you and the other tenants are jointly responsible for the rent, bills and landlord’s property. If you sign a sole tenancy agreement, you’re only responsible for the room you rent and your own portion of the rent/bills.

DON'T leave computers and laptops logged in. At best your flatmates might log in as you on Facebook; at worst, someone might use your machine to hack into your online banking and empty your account.

DO ask for a separate storage space for your belongings. Be it baked beans or toothpaste, having your own cupboard space in a shared house will help you keep track of your own stuff and avoid any awkward confrontations.

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Flat and house share site has seen a 71% rise in searches for bedroom shares over two years*

*Source: The Guardian

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Man climbing a ladder to his loft

1. Stuff in the attic

You don’t go up there often, and yes, it’s probably stuffed with old baby clothes and unused suitcases, but don’t discount the contents of your attic when quoting for contents insurance. Remember that family cutlery set? Yes, it’s worth insuring.

Man on a laptop

2. Digital downloads

You’ve made the move to digital and ditched your old CDs and hardback books in favour of downloads; so imagine the nightmare you’d have if you lost them? Check your contents insurance policy covers these digital assets.


3. Curtains and blinds

Yawn. They’re not sexy, but they do serve a purpose by keeping snoopers out. They’re not always cheap either, so are definitely worth insuring.

Women rolling a rug

4. Rugs and carpets

You walk on them every day, and you probably don’t notice them, but they cost money to replace. Add them to the list!

Pillows and duvet cover

5. Bedding and linen

Again, not the sexiest items in the house, but you’d be lost without them – plus they always end up costing lots to replace. Give yourself peace of mind by adding them to the list.

Bike and other belongings in a shed

6. The garden shed

If you have a shed, garage or outbuilding rammed with bikes, mowers, power tools and golf clubs, you don’t want to get caught short should they fall victim to opportunistic thieves. Add them to your contents insurance policy if you can, or take out additional cover.

A man and woman putting up some art

7. Works of art

If you have photographs or paintings on the walls, remember to add them to your policy. Even that framed family picture is worth something! Expensive pieces (usually over £1,500) might need to be insured separately, so check with your insurance provider.

Lots of food in a fridge

8. Food

If you have a power cut and the food in your freezer spoils then you could be covered on your contents insurance. But remember, if you do claim you’ll still have to pay the excess, which could be more than the cost of the freezer contents!

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