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Written By Taras Trofimov


How Ontario tenant insurance works

The number of people renting their property as opposed to owning it in Ontario has gone up in recent years. According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, the number of people renting in Ontario has increased by 10% between 2016 and 2021 (2021 is the latest year for which there is census data as of 2023), with the total number of renters sitting at 1.7 million. Rental prices have also gone up since 2016 – by 27%.

This mean that a lot of tenants may not have enough money to rebuild their lives should something unexpected happen to their rental unit. After all, everything they own is likely to be inside of it. Given that tenant insurance costs relatively little – from $100 to $200 per year – it’s worth paying for.

Is tenant insurance mandatory in Ontario?

Tenant insurance is not legally required in Ontario. However, like home insurance – which is often required by mortgage lenders – tenant insurance is often required by landlords. Before letting you sign a lease, your landlord may ask you for proof of tenant insurance.

While it’s true that landlords have their own insurance, it only covers the property itself – as in the apartment or the building. Everything else, such as your possessions are not covered. This can lead to a sticky legal situation for landlords, which is why they want their tenants to be insured.

What will your Ontario tenant insurance cover?

Tenant insurance in Ontario generally covers the following:

  • Contents: This includes your clothes, electronics, furniture and other personal possessions located on your rental property. Do note that expensive items such as jewelry or artwork may need additional coverage.
  • Personal liability: If someone suffers an injury while visiting your rental property or you accidentally damage someone else’s property, then this will cover the associated costs, including medical expenses, loss of income and damages. The minimum recommended coverage for liability is $100,000.
  • Additional living expenses: Should your rental property become temporarily unlivable due to a covered peril, this will cover the costs of living elsewhere, such as a hotel. If groceries and travel end up costing more due to your temporary displacement, this coverage will pay the difference.

Types of tenant insurance

There are two types of tenant insurance:

  • Comprehensive: Also known as ‘all risks,’ this covers you from all perils – except for those listed as exceptions. For instance, if overland flooding is listed as in the policy, then you’re not covered for it.
  • Named perils: Sometimes also known as the ‘basic’ policy, this one covers only the perils listed. For instance, if fire is named as a peril, then you are covered for it.

Commonly covered perils

Most tenant insurance policies will protect you from these perils:

  • Fire: No matter what causes the fire, your insurance company will cover the costs of replacing your lost belongings.
  • Lightning: Should lightning strike your rental property, it could damage the wiring in your walls as well as break your appliances and electronics. This will pay for repairing or replacing whatever ends up damaged.
  • Theft and vandalism: If your rental property happens to get robbed, this will pay for the replacement of the stolen items. The same applies if the property gets vandalized.
  • Water damage: This pays for the damage to your belongings caused by water leakage from indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning and similar appliances inside or outside your property. The tricky part is knowing what’s excluded. Most coverages usually exclude sewer back-up and overland flooding, so be sure to confirm what is and isn’t covered with your insurer.
  • Hail and wind: Should wind or hail damage your belongings, this will pay for them. This includes damage from flying debris as well as falling trees and branches (if caused specifically by hail or wind).

Additional coverage

You may want to also purchase additional coverage for some perils that are typically excluded from policies, such as these:

  • Overland flooding: If your rental unit gets flooded due to overflowing water from a river, stream, lake, thawing snow or another body of water, this add-on will protect you.
  • Sewer back-up: This type of flooding occurs due to backed up sewage pipes, toilets, drains or showers. Sewer back-ups happen when too much rainwater or melted snow enters the sewer system at once.
  • Earthquake: This endorsement will protect your home and possessions from damage due to an earthquake.
  • Valuable possessions: If you own expensive things like jewelry, collectibles and artwork, then you may need extra coverage for them. Do an inventory of all your possessions and assign monetary value to them. Then talk to your provider to find out if you need extra coverage.
  • Identity theft: This covers the costs of restoring your identity in the event it gets stolen. This includes certified letters to credit bureaus, notaries and similar expenses.

What will your Ontario tenant insurance not cover?

There are, of course, other ways your personal belongings may get damaged while on your rental property, some of which will not be covered by your insurance – no matter what. Here’s what tenant insurance does not cover:

  • Wear and tear: If your personal belongings end up damaged or unusable to regular wear and tear, then it’s your responsibility to replace those items. So, if your TV breaks down due to extensive use or some other technical issue, don’t contact your insurer.
  • Mold: Since mold occurs slowly due to pre-existing conditions, such as extreme humidity, there is usually enough time for you to prevent it. In other words, it’s a maintenance issue, not a sudden, unpredictable event. Furthermore, this is likely something your landlord should be able to resolve.
  • Pest infestations: Like mold, pest infestations, including mice, bedbugs, cockroaches and termites, are also a maintenance issue. Your landlord should be able to take care of this on your behalf.
  • Deliberate damage or injuries: If you deliberately damage your personal belongings, your insurance company will not cover the costs. In fact, if you attempt to claim money for damaging your belongings, you may be accused of insurance fraud, which is illegal. If you purposely hurt someone on your property, your insurance will not cover the associated liability costs either.

Recent Ontario tenant insurance quotes

Recent Tenant Insurance Quote from Utterson, ON
May 29, 2024
Cheapest Quote
$ 16 / month
$192 / year
Average Quote
$ 46 / month
$552 / year
$ 30 / month
$360 / year
65.00 %
Recent Tenant Insurance Quote from Toronto, ON
High Rise
May 29, 2024
Cheapest Quote
$ 26 / month
$312 / year
Average Quote
$ 40 / month
$480 / year
$ 14 / month
$168 / year
35.00 %
Recent Tenant Insurance Quote from Toronto, ON
May 29, 2024
Cheapest Quote
$ 18 / month
$216 / year
Average Quote
$ 37 / month
$444 / year
$ 19 / month
$228 / year
51.00 %
Tenant insurance quotes are compared from Apollo Insurance, CAA, Economical Insurance, Pembridge, Square One Insurance, and SGI

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Factors that affect your tenant insurance in Ontario

There aren’t as many factors affecting the cost of tenant insurance as for car or home insurance, but there are some nevertheless, most of which you can control. Here’s what they are:

  • Location: If certain perils, such as floods or severe weather, regularly cause property damage in the location of your rental unit, then your insurance premiums will be more expensive. The same applies if the area experiences higher crime rates, including theft and vandalism.
  • Condition of the rental unit: If the property you’re renting is on the older side – with outdated plumbing or electrical wiring, for instance – then your insurance may be more expensive.
  • Your claim history: The more claims you make, the higher your premium will be. If you can avoid making a claim, do so. In some cases, it may be cheaper to simply repurchase your damaged items.
  • Your credit score: People with good credit scores tend to file fewer insurance claims. So, if your credit score is good, then agreeing to a soft credit check may lower your premiums. There is no downside to this, because in Ontario, insurers can’t use your credit score to increase your premiums.

How much does average tenant insurance cost in Ontario?

According to the 2022 RATESDOTCA Home Insuramap, the average annual tenant insurance premium in Ontario is $197. That’s roughly $16 per month.

Note that these estimated averages are all based on a two-bedroom apartment in a high-rise building with over 10 floors and natural gas heating. This hypothetical apartment is 800 to 1,000 square feet in size and was built in the last 14 years. The contents within are valued at $40,000.

How can I get the cheapest tenant insurance in Ontario?

To get the cheapest tenant insurance in Ontario, consider trying the following:

  • Bundle multiple policies: Bundle your tenant insurance with your car insurance under a single provider. This will streamline your payments and get you a discount.
  • Increase your deductible: Though increasing your deductible means you’ll have to pay more out of pocket should your belongings get damaged, you can save a lot as well, especially if you remain claim-free for a long time.
  • Ger a loyalty discount: If you’ve stuck with the same insurance provider for a while, ask them for a loyalty discount when renewing your policy.
  • Avoid monthly payments: Paying your insurance monthly increases your premiums, as they usually translate into higher administrative costs for the insurer. By paying annually, you can save on those costs, and in turn, lower your premiums.
  • Don’t over-insure yourself: Be careful not to purchase more coverage than you need. It will cost you more than necessary and may not even be useful in the long run. Your best bet is to analyze the risks and buy only the coverage that will actually protect you.
  • Agree to a credit score check: By going through a soft credit score check, you can lower your tenant insurance premiums – as long as your credit score is in good order. What's great about this is that in Ontario, insurer can’t use your credit score to increase your premium, so agreeing to this has no adverse effects.
  • Comparison shop: Don’t settle for one insurer when there are so many options you can choose from. Use websites like RATESDOTCA to compare tenant insurance quotes from over 50 providers in Ontario and secure the cheapest home insurance premium available. It’s both fast and free.

Frequently asked questions about Ontario tenant insurance

Got more questions about Ontario tenant insurance? We got you covered.

Can my landlord force me to get tenant insurance in Ontario?

Yes. Though tenant insurance is not mandatory by law in Ontario, many landlords in the province include it as a requirement in their leases. This is especially true professionally managed apartment buildings, which is where most Ontarians rent their units. If you refuse to purchase tenant insurance, the landlord may not let you rent their apartment.

On the flipside, if you’ve already secured an apartment not having tenant insurance is not grounds for eviction under Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act.

What insurance do tenants need in Ontario?

Technically, tenants don’t need any insurance in Ontario. However, if you intend to rent a professionally managed apartment in the province, you will need tenant insurance, as many landlords require it as a condition of their lease. If you’re already renting an apartment, you don’t need tenant insurance since under Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, you are protected from eviction. Even so, your landlord may still encourage you to buy tenant insurance.

Given how cheap tenant insurance is – compared to home insurance, for example – it's worth getting even if your landlord doesn’t require it. Remember, that while your unit is protected by your landlord’s insurance, your possessions are not.

Do I need insurance to rent in Ontario?

Not in the legal sense, no. Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act, which governs the relationship between tenants and landlords, does not explicitly require tenants to buy tenant insurance. That said, if your personal possessions end up damaged or lost due to a burst pipe or another unexpected event in your rental unit, your landlord will not pay to recover those items. Landlords will only pay for the damages to the rental unit itself. Furthermore, many landlords do ask for tenant insurance before letting you sign their lease. Since tenant insurance is relatively affordable, it’s a good idea to purchase it – both to appease landlords and for your own peace of mind.

Who has the best tenant insurance policy in Ontario?

There is no accurate way to pinpoint who has the best tenant insurance policy in Ontario, because each company assesses risks differently. Factors such as the location of your rental unit, its condition and your claim history will also play a role in the kind of policy you will get.

You can, however, find a provider who will offer the cheapest quote to you by shopping around and using free online tools like RATESDOTCA to compare quotes from multiple insurers at once.

How do I make a tenant insurance claim in Ontario?

Should the contents of your rental unit get damaged or lost due to an unforeseen event, notify your home insurance provider right away. They’ll be happy to guide you through the process of filing your claim.

Before you contact anyone, make sure you have inventoried all your damaged or lost items and gathered details on what happened to them. If they were simply stolen, then just list the stolen items. Consider including photos or even videos to fully convey the damage or loss. Finally, don’t get rid of the damaged goods before you notify the insurer.

After all of this is done, the insurer will assign a claims advisor to your case, who will contact you shortly.

*Shoppers in Ontario who obtained a tenant insurance quote on RATESDOTCA from January to December 2023 saved an average amount of $110. 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.

Taras Trofimov ,
Content Manager

Taras has over nine years of content marketing experience across multiple industries in B2B and B2C spaces. He has produced thought leadership content for organizations like Constellation Software, Facebook and Yellow Pages as well as outlets like Huffington Post and MSN Canada. 

He graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and studied Technical Communication at Seneca College. 

  • Home Insurance
  • Bachelor of Arts at York University

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