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What is tenant insurance?

Tenant insurance, also known as renter’s insurance, is an insurance policy designed to protect people who rent, rather than own, their homes.

Unlike standard home insurance, it doesn’t include coverage for the actual building you live in – that’s the responsibility of your landlord. Instead, it covers your personal belongings and protects you from liability.

Simple, right?

What does tenant insurance cover?

Tenant insurance coverage includes three main components:

1) Contents coverage for your possessions

Consider the implications of someone breaking into your home and stealing your most cherished possessions, or the potential damage caused by a flood or a fire in your unit. Could you afford to replace everything? Most people couldn’t. That’s why tenant insurance provides coverage for the things you own. It extends beyond your home, so 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 cost.

2) Personal liability if you’re sued for property damage or personal injury

Liability coverage helps cover costs associated with lawsuits resulting from accidental damage to someone’s property, or if someone gets hurt in your home. For example, if you forget to turn off a tap and the overflowing water floods the apartment below, your downstairs neighbour could sue you for the damage caused. Or, if a visitor slips and gets hurt in your home, they could sue for the cost of rehabilitation, loss of earnings, and anything else resulting from the accident. These lawsuits can cost thousands, even millions of dollars, and can easily bankrupt individuals who don’t have personal liability insurance.

3) Reimbursement for living expenses, should your home become temporarily uninhabitable

If there is a problem with your unit caused by an insured peril, you may have to leave until the matter is resolved. If you are lucky, you could stay with friends or family, but this aspect of tenant insurance helps with temporary accommodation, transportation, and even the cost of meals until you can return home.

Frequently asked questions about tenant insurance

Is tenant insurance mandatory?

Legally, tenant insurance is not mandatory, but some landlords may require you to get tenant insurance as part of the leasing agreement. Regardless, there is no sense in risking your possessions or your financial future by forgoing this affordable coverage. Tenant insurance typically costs less than a dollar a day, but could save you thousands in the event of disaster.

How much does tenant insurance cost?

Tenant insurance starts at about $15 a month. In Toronto, the average is closer to $20 per month, but this can go up or down depending on your coverage needs.

What factors affect my tenant insurance rate?

Ultimately, your tenant insurance rate is a reflection of how much risk you pose to the insurance company. The following factors are considered:

1. Your things. A typical basic tenant insurance policy provides $30,000 in contents coverage, but you may decide to increase it if your possessions are worth more. The more coverage you need, the higher your premium will be.

2. Your liability limit. A standard limit for third-party liability coverage is $1 million. However, claims often exceed this limit and you can increase your coverage amount if you think it necessary. Of course, if you increase your limit, your rate will increase too.

3. Your address. A key component of tenant insurance is the protection of your things against loss and damage. If you live far away from a fire station, in a high-crime neighbourhood where home burglary is more common, or near a river that has flooded in the past, for example, insurance companies will increase your rate to account for these risks.

4. Your claims history. Insurers see a substantial claims history as a red flag and they will charge a higher premium. Conversely, no claims history, especially if you have had tenant insurance before, will reassure insurers that you are deserving of a low premium.

5. The building you live in. The insurance company will want to know details of your home. There are different risks associated with basement units compared to high-rise apartment buildings, for example. They will also request the age of the building, and perhaps even the construction materials used to build it. Your landlord should have no issue providing this information.

What is the average cost of tenant insurance in Ontario?

Tenant insurance in Ontario costs an average of $20 to $30 per month, but averages can be misleading when it comes to any property insurance product. Unlike auto insurance, there is no provincial legislation requiring a minimal level of coverage, so a bare bones policy for contents and liability, without living expenses or any additional riders could cost even less.

Can my landlord force me to get tenant insurance?

Property owners are within their rights to ask you to get it, and can stipulate it in the lease. If you refuse to get tenant insurance, thereby breaking the terms of the lease, they may have the right to evict you and rent to somebody else.

Is renter’s insurance the same as tenant insurance?

Yes, renter’s insurance and tenant insurance are the same thing.

Who has the best tenant insurance policy?

Every insurance provider will assess the likelihood of you making a claim, and the cost of providing your coverage, differently. In addition, the coverage you need to protect your things, will be different from the coverage needed by others. Compare coverage options and quotes from leading insurance providers on RATESDOTCA. It’s the quickest way to find the best tenant insurance policy for you.

Do I need home insurance when renting?

No, home insurance is for the homeowner. Tenant insurance is much cheaper than a standard home insurance policy because, as a renter, you only need coverage for your possessions, and not the physical structure of the building.

Does tenant insurance cover property damage caused by natural disasters?

If your possessions are damaged by hail, rain, wind or fire, your tenant insurance should provide coverage. However, some natural disasters, most notably earthquakes and floods, are excluded from standard tenant insurance policies. If you live in a high-risk area for these types of natural disasters, you should purchase additional coverage.

What information do I need to get a tenant insurance quote?

On RATESDOTCA, we will ask for the following information:

  • Your address and unit number
  • The combined value of your physical possessions
  • Who you live with (roommates likely won’t be covered by your policy, but they could impact your premium)
  • The type of residence you live in (e.g. high-rise apartment, basement rental, single bedroom in shared house)
  • The year the building was built

This will give you the most accurate quotes directly from the tenant insurance providers.

What’s not covered by tenant insurance?

Tenant insurance polices limit the coverage provided to high-value items (e.g. expensive jewelry, antique watches, fine art or sports equipment). A $5,000 limit is common for these types of things, so if you lose $20,000 worth of jewelry, you will have to pay $15,000 out-of-pocket to replace it.

To insure these possessions for the actual replacement cost, you have to purchase a floater, also called a rider, which is an amendment to your standard policy. Examples of other items tenants purchase riders for include musical instruments, expensive bicycles, and electronics. Always check your coverage limits on specific items to ensure your prized possessions are fully protected financially.

When should I file a tenant insurance claim?

Firstly, assess the cost of paying out-of-pocket. If the amount you have to spend is less than your deductible, there is no need to file an insurance claim since there will be no payout by your insurance company. Filing a claim for every little thing that goes wrong can affect your future premiums, as insurers are unwilling to provide coverage for people who cost them a lot of money.

With that said, don’t be afraid to make a claim when you need to. After all, this financial support was the whole point of having tenant insurance policy in the first place.

How do I make a tenant insurance claim?

Once you have decided to make a claim, take photos to prove that your claim is legitimate, and call up your insurance provider to see what else they need. Claims can often be submitted through most provider apps. Don’t take too long, most insurers require you to submit the claim within days of the incident.

How can I get the cheapest tenant insurance?

Follow these handy tips to keep the cost down:

1. If you have a car, consider bundling your auto insurance together with your tenant insurance. By using the same provider, you could save up to 15% off both policies. This is called a multi-line discount.

2. If you are willing and able to pay a higher deductible in the event of a claim, insurers will reward you with a cheaper rate.

3. Some insurers offer reduced rates for members of certain organizations. Ask about available discounts and see if you qualify.

4. Every insurance company will offer a different rate. The best way to save money is to shop around on RATESDOTCA.

RATESDOTCA tenant insurance

If you want to save money on tenant insurance without compromising coverage, you’re in the right place.

Spend a few minutes answering basic questions about your apartment, and we’ll show you multiple tenant insurance quotes from Canada’s best companies.

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