What are the best tenant insurance policies in Canada?

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If you rent your home, you might think you don’t need insurance, because your landlord should have you covered. However, a landlord's insurance does not cover your liability insurance, your belongings or some types of damage. This can leave you paying out-of-pocket if there is a problem.

Did you know almost 50% of Canadian renters do not have tenant insurance? If you want to be protected, you will need tenant insurance.

It is inexpensive and it will protect your belongings. This page will answer all your questions while explaining what tenant insurance is, how it works and who the best providers are.

What is tenant insurance?

Tenant insurance, also known as renters insurance, covers theft of and damage to the personal belongings of a person renting a house or apartment. It also provides them with personal liability coverage, meaning that they have financial protection for unintentional property damage or if they cause bodily injury to someone else. The personal liability coverage aspect is often overlooked by would-be buyers, but it is valuable. It can save them from paying a large settlement if a guest injures themselves in the home.

Beyond that, it is a smart way to make sure one's belongings are safe. This includes items like your furniture, TV, clothing, books, electronics and jewelry against theft and against damage by fires, burst pipes and more.

Renters insurance does not cover the building or fixtures like the central heating, plumbing or wiring. Nor does it cover furniture or equipment provided by the landlord. This makes it different from other types of home insurance that cover belongings, liability and the property itself.

Do I need tenant insurance?

Unless required by your landlord, purchasing tenant insurance is optional. If you own valuables, renters insurance can provide peace of mind and give you the ability to replace them.

Landlords may have a buildings-only policy, that doesn’t cover much besides the physical structure of the dwelling. Even if they have contents coverage, that will only cover objects in the unit that they own like appliances or furniture.

It’s worth asking what your landlord's policy includes. It might cover emergency accommodation for you in a crisis, and it might also cover accidental damage.

There is no law requiring you to get tenant insurance. It may, however, be required in your rental agreement.

What does tenant insurance cover?

Tenant insurance covers your own possessions against:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Loss or damage
  • Fires
  • Some types of water damage
  • Burst pipes

Depending on your policy, you may also be covered for accidental damage as well as personal liability. If a visitor falls over something you left on the floor, you are covered for any claim if they are injured.

Contents insurance for renters may also cover: 

  • A place to stay if your property is uninhabitable after a flood or fire
  • Spoiled food if there is a power cut or the refrigerator or freezer breaks down

You should check whether the policy gives replacement value (enough to repurchase the item at the current retail price) or cash value (what the items are worth now taking into account age, wear and tear).

What does cover not tenant insurance?

Keep in mind that renters insurance does have a number of exclusions:

  • Wear and tear. If your old TV stops working, it won’t pay out
  • If the property is unoccupied for a long time– usually, 30 days
  • It may not cover high-value items – there may be a limit for each single item. Items like mobile phones, tablets, and bikes may need to be specified on your policy as well.
  • Unforced entry
  • Possessions that you take outside your home without an ‘all risks’ or ‘personal possessions’ cover add-on
  • Business use (this is often available as an add-on)
  • If you make a claim, you’ll need to pay some of cost yourself – this amount is known as a deductible and varies by policy.

Does the building need to be covered too by rental insurance?

No, you don’t need to insure the building with tenant insurance. Home insurance for tenants only covers the contents and your personal liability. The building belongs to your landlord, who is responsible for any necessary repairs. That includes certain sinks, baths, toilets, plumbing, appliances, gas pipes, electrical work and central heating. Basically, if you can't move it, it is the landlord’s responsibility.

Most landlords have their own insurance, although there is no legal obligation for them to hold a policy.

How much is tenant insurance?

Tenants insurance can be purchased for under $300 or $400 per year, but exactly how much you’ll have to pay depends on:

  • The property
  • Where you live (for example, the prices are higher in Alberta than in Quebec)
  • The value of your insured possessions
  • Your claims history
  • Add-ons

However, how much is renters insurance may also depend on other factors. Insurers may also take into account factors such as the job you do.

Tips for saving on tenant insurance:

Renters can purchase insurance for as little as $20 per month, making tenant insurance inexpensive protection to have. Still, it never hurts to inquire about discounts. Here are some ways to save:

  • Ask your insurer about bundling your tenant and auto insurance policies.
  • Better home security will reduce your premium. For instance, you can save if you have window locks, an alarm system, smoke alarm or a neighbourhood watch scheme in the area.
  • Choose a higher deductible. Because insurers won’t have to pay out as much if there is an incident, they offer lower premiums.
  • The best way to get cheap renters insurance is to compare quotes whenever your policy is up. Don't let it auto renew without first speaking with your broker and asking for a discount.

What are the best tenant’s insurance policies?

The best policy for you will depend on your particular needs and circumstances. As everyone's circumstances and home are different, request an insurance quote to find out exactly how much you’ll pay.

You can compare policies at the top of this page.

Popular tenant insurance providers in Canada include:

Don't assume that a policy covers everything you are looking for. Read the fine print and ask if you're not sure if your antiques, bike or grandmother's engagement ring is included.

How much coverage do I need with renter’s insurance?

We recommend that you purchase enough insurance to cover the replacement value of your possessions. If you’re underinsured and make a claim, your insurer will only pay out part of your claim.

Sometimes insurers will suggest a typical amount for the size of property you live in. However, it is better to make a list of your possessions. Many of the best renters insurance companies allow you to do this online. Take some time to note your possessions and their value before an incident:

  • Valuables like laptops, watches and jewellery
  • Clothing and accessories
  • Kitchen equipment and cutlery
  • Furniture and decorative items like rugs, cushions and art
  • Bike and sports equipment
  • Books, kids’ toys and hobby materials

It usually adds up to many thousands of dollars. If the worst happens, you’ll want to know you can replace everything that is important to you.

Remember that renters insurance costs go up as you increase the value of contents insured. There is no need to hold a policy that covers $50,000 if all you need is $15,000. You’ll be wasting your money.

Is tenant insurance mandatory in Canada?

There is no legal requirement in Canada for renters to purchase tenant insurance. Many landlords require you to take out the insurance when you rent from them. It protects both parties.

With that being said, it provides effective and inexpensive protection for both theft and damage to your belongings and financial protection for personal liability. Consider purchasing a plan. A good tenant insurance policy can save you when the worst happens.

Compare plans and get a quote today.

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2 comments
Steve
on 2022-05-17

Hello,

I work within a housing program at a Social Services agency in London, Ontario and I am looking to support my clients in getting tenant insurance. Do you accept direct payments from OW/ODSP?

Gaulthier Gaulthier
on 2022-05-18

Hi Steve,
We are not an insurance company but an insurance broker.
You should probably try to contact insurance companies directly regarding your project.

Have a nice day,
The HelloSafe team