Understanding tenant insurance

Understanding tenant insurance

Tenants often forego insurance thinking that they are covered by their landlord’s insurance. Others figure – often misguidedly – that they don’t have enough possessions to warrant the price of the annual insurance premium.

However, a theft or unfortunate mishap in your home could lead to serious consequences. For example, you could be held responsible for causing material or non-material damage or bodily injury to a third party and, in certain situations, you may have to pay compensation.

What does tenant insurance cover?

Civil liability

Tenant insurance includes civil liability protection, i.e., unintentional injury you cause another person or accidental damage to someone else’s property.


  • Water damage to the apartment below because of a bath faucet left running.
  • A fire that starts due to something left in the oven.

It also covers damage caused by:

  • Any member of your family living with you.
  • A dependent child who temporarily lives away from the family home due to full-time studies.

The civil liability insurance amount is usually one or two million dollars.

As with any other type of insurance contract, the tenant insurance contract contains limitations and exceptions.

Put your questions to an advisor to be certain you have the coverage that is customized to your needs. The advisor will take into account the type and value of the building where you live. For example, your liability is proportionate to the size of the building and is not the same for a building containing two accommodation units as it is for one containing 60 units.

Personal property

Tenant insurance also covers your personal possessions. Before deciding whether to buy tenant insurance, draw up a list of everything you own to calculate the amount of insurance you need.

Additional coverage can also be purchased for any particularly valuable items, such as jewellery.

To help draw up the inventory:

  • The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)’s website has a comprehensive form you can use to ensure you don’t overlook anything.
  • Estimate the value of each item or category of article.
  • If you can still lay hands on your receipts, they will prove a valuable ally if you need to make a claim. If you no longer have them, find out the item’s current retail price on the internet or estimate the value by comparing it with similar articles.
  • Take photos or a video of your belongings.
  • Don’t miss a single cupboard. You’ll no doubt be surprised to find just how much you own and that it is probably worth more than you thought.

Keep your inventory somewhere safe, such as on a flash drive, external hard drive, paper copy that you keep in a dry, fireproof place, where it is unlikely to be found by thieves.

You can also save a back-up in the cloud thanks to cloud computing.

When damage or loss occurs

The day disaster strikes, you’ll be thankful your insurer is there to pay for:

  • Any temporary accommodation and living expenses.
  • Living expenses while your apartment is being rehabilitated.
  • The replacement of your personal property. And the details of that exhaustive inventory you made will certainly speed up and simplify the claims process.