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Tenant insurance: what is it and who needs it?

If you’re a renter, how do you protect your belongings in case of theft or damage? Hopefully, you’d answer with tenant insurance. Nevertheless, whether it’s because of cost or mistakenly believing they’re covered under their landlord or roommate’s policy, many Canadians are passing on tenant insurance and, in doing so, putting themselves at financial risk. Roughly 33% of Canadians rent their homes, yet 41% admit they don’t have tenant insurance1,2. And while tenant insurance isn’t mandatory, it can offer you the peace of mind that you’re protected.
What is tenant insurance?
Tenant insurance (also known as renter’s insurance) is a form of coverage that protects tenants and their belongings. It’s similar to home insurance, but since you aren’t the property owner, tenant insurance doesn’t cover the building or house. However, it does cover the cost to repair or replace your personal property following a covered claim and does provide liability protection.
Generally, your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged or protect you if someone’s injured in your home. Instead, if you’re found responsible for damage to the property, your landlord’s insurance company could sue you to recover the repair costs. This is where tenant insurance can offer you financial protection.
What does tenant insurance cover?
Tenant insurance typically provides coverage for your belongings against common risks such as theft, fire, and water damage. The coverage applies to your belongings in your home and those you bring with you to the gym or on vacation, for example.
Suppose your home becomes unlivable due a covered loss. In that case, tenant insurance provides coverage for any additional living expenses (e.g., hotel and food) until you can move back in or find somewhere else to live.
Suppose your dog chews on your friend's designer shoes, or you accidentally hit your teammate in the face with a baseball and break their nose, not to mention their expensive sunglasses. Liability coverage protects you from unintentional property damage or bodily harm, and you're legally responsible for paying the damages.
Do all renters need tenant insurance?
Although tenant insurance isn’t legally required in Canada, it can help if you’re held responsible for unexpected expenses due to a covered loss. Still, some landlords make it a condition in their residential tenancy agreement.
What factors can affect my tenant insurance rates?
Tenant insurance doesn’t have fixed costs for everyone. Premiums can differ per renter depending on various factors, including but not limited to:

  • Your credit score

  • The contents you require coverage for

  • The location of your home

  • Your deductible

  • Whether you have a home security system

  • Your claims history

OTIP works with several insurance carriers to provide the Ontario education community with the best coverage and rates to fit your lifestyle.
Why can’t I opt for the cheapest option?
With rent prices rising, you might be looking for ways to save with insurance options to help manage your budget3. But keep in mind that cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better. Cheap tenant insurance may cost you less in the short term, but it may not provide enough coverage to repair or replace your personal property or protect you in the event of an accident, which can cost you more in the long term. It’s recommended that you develop a thorough record of all your belongings in your home to help determine how much and what kind of insurance coverage you need.
The right insurance matters to your well-being. We can help guide you through any questions so you can make the best choices for your needs. If you're a current OTIP policyholder, contact us at 1-833-615-9329 to review your existing tenant insurance policy and discuss additional coverage. If you’re not insured with OTIP and are shopping for tenant insurance, call us at 1-833-494-0085 to get a quote and receive a $20 gift card of your choice!

  1. Canadian Underwriter – How many Canadian renters lack tenant insurance?

  2. Statistics Canada – National Housing Day: A look at homeowners and renters

  3. CBC – Rent prices soared in 2023 as Canada saw lowest vacancy rate on record

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