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Written By Katie Rook


What is tenant insurance?

Whether you live in a house, apartment, townhouse or condo, tenant insurance offers significant protection for you and your belongings in the event of an insured loss.

While tenant insurance is an expense over and above your monthly rent, most people are relieved to have protection when they need to make a claim — particularly if cash isn’t readily available to replace a large volume of personal belongings at once, or if you need to fund a lawsuit.

Replacement and legal costs can add up quickly.

What does tenant insurance cover?

A tenant policy covers three key things:

Contents coverage: Will replace belongings such as furniture, clothing and electronics, following damage, loss or theft — both inside and outside the home — up to a specified dollar limit.

Be aware that any insurance a landlord has will not cover a tenant’s contents, nor any costs you assume if you’re forced to live elsewhere while repairs are being made.

For example, if a pipe bursts, the cost of repairing the pipe and the walls will be covered by the landlord’s insurance, but any of the tenant’s belongings damaged by water will only be covered by the tenant’s policy.

Additional living expenses: Will cover costs you must assume if you’re forced out of your rental due to an insured loss, such as hotel accommodation, clothing, groceries and diapers.

Liability coverage: Will cover costs — up to a specified limit — of defending yourself in a lawsuit if someone sues you.

There are two main aspects of personal liability insurance. First, coverage for bodily injury and, second, coverage for property damage.

  • Bodily injury protection will cover damages awarded to someone who is injured at your home.
  • Property damage protection will cover costs if you unintentionally damage someone else’s property.

Many tenant insurance policies provide a minimum of $1,000,000 personal liability insurance, but experts often recommend that that limit be increased to $2,000,000.

Rental insurance is customizable, meaning you can pick-and-choose what type of coverage you want.

You’ll encounter the following two options:

  • Comprehensive or all risks policies: Will cover you for any loss that is not specifically excluded.
  • Named perils: Will cover you only for the perils specifically named in the policy.

What is additional coverage?

Additional coverage refers to optional coverage you can add to a policy.

For example, while both comprehensive and named perils tenant insurance policies can include water damage as a peril, for protection against flooding, you’ll need additional coverage.

Note that insurance providers distinguish between different types of flooding: overland, sewer backup and tidal. Some providers offer water protection packages that include coverage for a range of flood types.

Overland flooding refers to water that comes into a home from a lake or river. It’s most likely to happen following a natural disaster, severe thunderstorm or during a thaw.

Sewer back-up refers to damage after sewage floods into a home. This typically happens when the stormwater system in a low-lying area is overwhelmed.

Tidal refers to water from a nearby ocean that floods the home. Due to Calgary’s location, it’s not a relevant option. However, overland and sewer backup coverage are increasingly so.

For example, a historic flood in Calgary in June 2013, which caused billions of dollars in damage, was deemed to be a form of overland flooding and sewer backup.

Since that natural disaster and others like it, Calgary residents are being encouraged to more closely consider the benefits of getting additional flood protection.

What’s the difference between replacement cost vs. Actual Cash Value?

When you're trying to figure out what amount of coverage you’ll need for your contents insurance, you must choose between the replacement of the home’s contents or the Actual Cash Value.

There’s an important difference: Whereas replacement cost covers the current cost to replace the item, AVC accounts for the depreciation in value of an item.

Frequently asked questions about tenant insurance in Calgary 

Looking for tenant insurance in Calgary? Tenant insurance coverage is explained below.

Is tenant insurance mandatory in Calgary?

No, tenant insurance isn’t required by law anywhere in Canada.

However, the coverage that a tenant insurance policy provides when it comes to repairing unintentional damage to a property, needing protection for contents, additional living expenses and or liability protection gives many renters comfort in the event of damage, loss or theft.

Unless you can afford to take on considerable expense following an insured loss, damage to your belongings or the injury of someone visiting your home, consider getting a tenant insurance policy to protect yourself.

Can my landlord make me get tenant insurance?

There’s no law requiring you to have tenant insurance, but many landlords require it as a condition of renting a property.

In other words, a landlord may choose to rent their property to only those willing to get tenant insurance.

What’s the difference between tenant insurance and renter’s insurance?

There’s no difference. The terms are used interchangeably.

Landlord policies are separate. They cover the cost of repairing a home against an insured loss but do not cover the cost of replacing a tenant’s belongings — even if the belongings are damaged by an insured loss.

What does tenant insurance cost in Calgary?

Tenant insurance rates are determined, in part, by the sort of coverage you’re seeking: Comprehensive/All risks or named perils.

Other important factors that influence the cost of your tenant insurance policy include the location of the property that’s being insured and the value of the contents you’re insuring.

It’s common for renters in Canada to get insurance worth about $30,000. How much that will cost on a monthly basis will depend on the insurance provider you take a policy with.

Comparison shopping is one of the most reliable ways to find a lower rate. At RATESDOTCA, we offer policies from dozens of the best insurance providers across the country.

What does tenant insurance not cover?

If you have high-value items such as rare art, jewelry or sporting equipment, the coverage available through a comprehensive policy may have limits.

To make sure your most valuable possessions are protected, you can buy what's called a personal articles floater. This will list additional items on your policy and their value. You may need to get some items appraised.

How can I get the best tenant insurance?

Comparison shopping is the single most effective way to reduce your insurance costs. If you’re looking for the best tenant insurance policy, you’re in the right place.

Beyond comparison shopping, you can reduce the overall cost of your tenant insurance, by:

  • Bundling policies so they’re held by a single provider. For example, you may be eligible for a discount if you use the same company for your rental insurance and car insurance.
  • Establishing and maintaining a good credit score. In some provinces, carriers can consider credit scores when determining insurance rates.
  • Increasing your deductible.
  • Reducing the amount of coverage you take. In general, you’re likely to pay more for more coverage.
  • Limiting the volume of insurance claims.

Is tenant insurance worth it for a Calgary rental?

Tenant insurance offers you significant protection when something bad happens. This includes unexpected damage to your home or belongings as well as liability protection if someone is injured at your home. You'll also receive additional living expenses if you need to live elsewhere while your rental is being repaired following an insured loss.

In a city like Calgary, where flood risk is increasingly common, we encourage you to seriously consider getting tenant insurance so that you’re protected.

*Shoppers in Alberta who obtained a tenant insurance quote on RATESDOTCA from January to December 2023 saved an average amount of $86. The average savings amount represents the difference between the shoppers’ average lowest quoted premium and the average of the second and third lowest quoted premiums generated by RATESDOTCA. Excludes home and condo insurance.

Katie Rook
Katie Rook

Content Manager

Katie Rook was a content manager at RATESDOTCA, specializing in home insurance. She has been a full-time reporter at CTV, National Post, and The Globe and Mail. Her work has also appeared in Dow Jones’ MarketWatch, Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Saint John Telegraph-Journal and VICE. Katie is a graduate of Ryerson and Dalhousie universities.

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