Renters Insurance: Your Questions, Answered!
Need help with your renters insurance? Below we explain what renters insurance is, how much it costs and what the difference is between contents insurance for renters and full renters insurance. Read on to learn this, what coverage to look out for, and more!
Renting in Australia? Discover what you need to know about renting for the first time, submitting a rental application, what should be included in a residential tenancy agreement, and more with Selectra's guides about renting a home.
What Is Renters Insurance?
Renters insurance is a type of extended contents insurance for renters. Renters insurance typically covers damage and theft to the property and its contents and protects the renter from paying out of pocket in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
Most tenants assume that any home or contents insurance their landlord takes out will cover them too. However, when renting a home, both the tenant and landlord/property manager share responsibility. Some tenancy agreements even require tenants to have insurance before renting.
While the landlord is responsible for the building, and anything inside that they own (such as heating & cooling units, appliances or furniture if included) tenants are responsible for their own property and possessions.
Anything damaged or stolen can be repaired or replaced without you needing to pay for it out-of-pocket by purchasing rental tenants insurance.
However, there are different types of rental insurance:
- Renters insurance
- Renters contents insurance
Renters contents insurance is a form of renters insurance that protects the contents or items within the house that belong to the renter and is specifically designed for covering the cost of replacing or fixing broken, damaged and stolen items within a rented property.
There is a small difference between renters insurance and contents insurance for renters.
For example, a full rental insurance package typically covers accidental damage to the property, such as accidentally breaking a window. However, renters contents insurance does not cover damage to the property as it only covers the renter's material possessions within the property.
What Does Renters Insurance Cover?
Renters contents insurance generally covers all personal belongings inside your home such as:
- Home appliances/whitegoods
- TV, Electronics & Internet
Some insurance providers may not cover portable items like jewellery or your mobile phone or laptop. Therefore, check for any exclusions on your policy before signing as you may need additional coverage.
Standard renters insurance policies typically cover the tenant, the property and the tenant's possessions from:
- Fire damage
- Storm, lightning, or rainwater damage
- Explosion or earthquakes
- Theft or attempted theft
- Malicious damage or vandalism
- Electrical damage from a power outage
- Liquid or water damage
- Accidental breakage of glass or ceramics
- Damage caused while moving house
As can be expected, all policies and insurance for tenants differ. Higher-level policies typically offer additional coverage for a wider range of events or circumstances.
Examples of extra coverage can include food spoilage insurance if your fridge stops working, temporary accommodation if your home is significantly damaged, or additional coverage for things such as bikes or lawnmowers left outside of the home.
You might be able to also get additional, optional, coverage for an extra cost, such as specific insurance for personal effects (ie: items you regularly take with you like your smartphone or laptop computer) or flood cover.
Rental Insurance Coverage LimitsSome policies may limit the claims amount for specific items such as jewellery. However, you can typically add additional coverage for specific items that are outside of these limits at an extra cost, such as adding additional jewellery coverage for an expensive family heirloom.
How Much Is Renters Insurance?
Like anything else, the cost of renters insurance really depends on a number of different factors that affect the security of your home.
Factors that affect the cost of renters insurance include:
- Where you live, the crime rate of the neighbourhood, and any history of theft or claims at your current address
- The total estimated value of your contents
- The risk of natural disaster (for example, if you live in a flood zone or wildfire-prone area)
- Your home’s security, age, and general structure
Due to these factors, the cost of tenant insurance in Australia can range from couple hundred dollars per year to over a couple thousand dollars per year.
The average annual cost for renters contents insurance in Australia can be found in the table below:
of Renters Contents Insurance
|NSW||$431 / Year|
|QLD||$397 / Year|
|VIC||$377 / Year|
|SA||$336 / Year|
|TAS||$313 / Year|
|WA||$392 / Year|
Source: Canstarblue - Annual cost is based on plans with $50,000 coverage for renters contents only.
With insurance for tenants, providers often offer a lower-cost version of tenant's insurance that protects you solely against fire and theft. Although this may be a more cost-effective option, it is important to evaluate your risks so you don't end up being underinsured.
Consider including the cost of renters insurance when calculating the cost of renting as it may help you get your rental bond returned in the event of damage to the property. It's a good idea to take a look around the web and do your research to compare renters insurance and rental contents insurance plans to find the best deal and coverage for you.
However, there are a few ways to lower the cost of your rental insurance premium such as asking your landlord to replace the locks on doors and windows and adding a security system or taking out a higher excess (the amount you pay out-of-pocket when making a claim).
Renters Insurance FAQs:
Do I Need Rental Insurance?
At Selectra we think you should definitely consider taking out some form of renters insurance!
Most people have many more valuables than they realise, and it’s easy to underestimate what you actually have in your home. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from 2010 to 2018, the average value of an Australian household’s contents and home goods jumped from around $60,000 to nearly $70,000!
Unfortunately, most people cannot afford to replace all of their damaged or stolen belongings.
If you are unsure about whether you need renters insurance, consider the following:
If something were to happen to your things, would you be able to pay $70,000 (or even half of that) to replace them? As the old adage says: "you don't know what you've got till it's gone."
Although it's difficult to anticipate disasters happening to us while renting, life happens and it's better to be prepared for when it does.
By covering even some of your most valuable contents (electronics, jewellery, and expensive appliances for example) with renters contents insurance, you wouldn’t need to worry about paying out of pocket in the off-chance of a disaster or robbery affecting you.
How Does Rental Insurance Work?
When a tenant wants to take out a renters insurance policy, they must first make an accurate estimate of the value of the contents in their home (that they want to be covered). You don’t need to cover everything in your home if you don’t want to, or you can choose to make sure everything you own is included in the coverage.
Once you have an accurate estimate of the value of your contents, you can purchase your insurance policy. During the time of your policy’s coverage, it’s important to get and keep, a detailed record of your belongings. Things such as photos, receipts, or valuations will all be important should you ever need to make a claim.
There are typically two ways an insurance provider will compensate you in case you ever need to make a claim, either by directly repairing or replacing your items or paying you the equivalent amount. This could be either:
Your insurance provider might offer “new for old”, meaning they will fully replace your covered items with new ones. If you have an old laptop that is currently valued at $300, but to buy a new one of similar quality is $800, your insurance will cover the total cost of a new one. This is what most insurance providers offer, but this type of coverage and compensation usually comes with higher premiums.
Some insurance providers, however, will only compensate you for the value of your things currently. If it costs $800 for a new laptop, but yours was only valued at $300, then the insurance provider will only give you $300.
It’s always important to check what type of compensation your insurance provider offers, as no one wants to be told after an emergency that their insurance won’t cover the full cost of a new laptop, phone, or anything else.
How to Calculate the Value of Your Possessions for Renters Insurance
If you’re interested in renters insurance (and if you’re a renter, you should be considering it at this point) your first step is to calculate the value of your possessions. This might seem like a daunting task, but its well worth it for the peace of mind it brings.
Go room-by-room and make a list of everything. Write it down systematically, and don’t leave anything off your list. Things such as clothing or shoes might not seem valuable for each individual item, but if everything were to get damaged in a storm it adds up when you need to replace every pair of pants and every shirt in your closet.
Get important items valued independently. That $10,000 family heirloom necklace from your Great Aunt Martha? Take it to get valued by a jeweller and keep any records from the valuation. If something were to happen to it, having the actual records will make a claim much easier.
Update the list anytime you make a new big purchase - a new TV, some art, another $10,000 necklace from Great Aunt Martha. Any time you add something to your home, check to be sure you don’t need to increase the insured value.
Take photos and keep receipts for a more accurate list. This will make proving a claim easier, and you’re more likely to get paid out the correct amount, more quickly.
Can I Get Renters Insurance With Roommates?
If you are considering renters insurance, but are renting a room rather than a whole house or unit, you will still need to take out a policy for the entire house. Renters insurance policies don’t typically let you cover just a specific room. However, you can choose to either only add your valuable items to the valuable items list, or your roommates can chip in, and everyone’s valuable items can get covered.
Pro-tip for first time renters: Many renters insurance policies won’t cover theft by roommates, so carefully read your policy if you live with roommates you might not know.
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