Tenant insurance versus landlord insurance

Reviewed by Daniel Mirkovic and Rena Novotny

Updated April 6, 2023

You might think that you don’t need insurance because your landlord has insurance. This is not true! As a tenant, you need to purchase your own tenant insurance policy. In fact, your landlord may insist that you do, both for their own protection as well as your own.


Thumbnail of the Tenant vs Landlord video


What will landlord insurance cover?

In most cases, a landlord will purchase insurance coverage for the home that they rent to others. An important thing to remember is that this insurance protects the landlord only – not the tenant. Your landlord’s insurance policy will cover the home for fire, lightning, vandalism, and various other perils. This insurance will protect the building, and in some cases, it might also protect the fixtures and furnishings that remain in the home while it’s rented to you. Often included are the fridge, stove, washer and dryer, and some window coverings. If you’re renting a furnished apartment, then the provided furnishings may also be covered.

What won’t landlord insurance cover?

That’s where your landlord’s insurance stops; there is NO coverage for your personal belongings. There is also no coverage for your liability under a landlords insurance policy (explained in-depth later). If you don’t have your own insurance, then it’s time for you to talk to an insurance provider as soon as possible and purchase your own tenant insurance policy. Or, you can buy a tenant’s insurance policy online.

Loss or damage to your personal belongings

Even if you don’t think your personal belongings are worth very much, think about what it would cost to replace them with new items. You may have a table you purchased second hand, or a couch that you found on a fantastic sale. Most people are conscious of value, and everything from your furniture to your shoes, kitchen equipment, and even your beauty products were probably purchased over time, when you recognized good value. If there’s a fire, or your home is vandalized, you may not be lucky enough, or have enough time to find such good deals – and you’ll need to replace everything, all at once.

It’s hard to appreciate how much your property costs when you build it up piece by piece over time, but when a serious loss occurs, you’ll quickly discover just how much money you need to replace everything. If you have the right tenants insurance, your goods will be replaced quickly, and with new items of like kind and quality. This is why we recommend choosing a limit of coverage that will be adequate to replace all of your personal property with brand new items of similar kind and quality.

This type of coverage is especially important if you have expensive jewellery, bikes, or perhaps a valuable coin collection. A simple break-in can be devastating if you lose several high-value items. To make sure you have the coverage you need, we recommend that you perform an inventory of your belongings. Once you have an understanding of the value of your property, and the various types of property you own, you can customize your tenant’s insurance policy to protect your own unique set of belongings.

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Unintentional injury to others

Have you ever thought about liability insurance? If not, you’re not alone. This where you stand to lose the most money, yet it’s something that very few people ever think about. This coverage protects you if you’re sued for unintentional injuries or property damage caused by your actions – or in some cases, even caused by your inactions.

When do you need liability insurance?

Let us give you some examples of when this type of insurance comes in handy:

  • You open your umbrella on a busy street, and accidentally poke someone in the eye.

  • You’re golfing and underestimate the power of your swing. Your tee shot flies over a hill and hits another golfer right on the head.

  • It snows, and you haven’t had time to clear your front steps. Someone comes up your steps, and slips, injuring her back.

  • A neighbour’s child is jumping on your trampoline, and slices her foot open on a spring.

  • You’re walking your dog, when someone becomes tangled in your leash, and trips, cracking their head on the sidewalk.

Don’t think any of these things will happen to you? Are you really willing to take a chance? Once again, remember that your landlord’s insurance policy will not protect you.

A real life example

Let’s take the example of the person slipping on your icy step. You might think, “Those steps belong to the landlord, not me!” True enough, so you can bet the injured person will be suing the homeowner – but you are the occupant of the premises, and as the occupant, you have a responsibility to keep it in a safe condition for visitors. The injured person can sue you as well, alleging that you failed in your duty to properly take care of the premises that you occupy. Your landlord’s insurance policy will not protect you at all, so if you don’t have tenant’s insurance, you’ll be on your own to hire a lawyer, fund your own defense against the lawsuit, and ultimately pay damages if the court finds you negligent.

Most tenant policies include at least $1,000,000 in liability protection. In the above example, your tenant’s insurance provider would step in to hire a lawyer, help you defend yourself against the lawsuit, and even pay certain damages if the court were to rule against you. This can help you to avoid serious financial harm in the event that someone else is accidentally injured on the premises that you occupy as a tenant.

Accidental damage to the rental unit

Most tenant’s insurance policies will also include some coverage for “tenant legal liability.” This is not the same as the liability coverage discussed above. Tenant legal liability insurance covers you for damage you unintentionally cause to the property you’re renting, usually as a result of fire, explosion, water escape and smoke. For example, you might put a few pork chops in a pan to cook up for dinner, and decide to watch the evening news. You doze off, and next thing you know, your kitchen is filled with smoke. With tenant’s insurance, you’ll have coverage for the cost of repairs; without tenant’s insurance, you’ll be on your own to pay out of pocket to repair the damage.

Watch the full video

Want to learn more? Visit our Renter resource centre for more tips and information about life as a renter. Or, get an online quote in under 5 minutes and find out how affordable personalized home insurance can be.

About the expert: Daniel Mirkovic

A co-founder of Square One with 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, Daniel was previously vice president of the insurance and travel divisions at the British Columbia Automobile Association. Daniel has a bachelor of commerce and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He holds a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB) designation and a general insurance license level 3 in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

About the expert: Rena Novotny

Rena's 23-year career started as an independent adjuster where she specialized in complex property, liability and special risk loss. As a branch manager, Rena hired, trained, mentored and coached several adjusters. She continues part-time post-graduate studies in neuro-psychology and traumatization, learning how both may impact the insured's engagement on catastrophic claims. Rena has a MA (Conflict Analysis and Management), CRM, CIP, and holds a level 3 adjusting license.


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