There are a number of expenses to consider when moving into a new rental home or flat – bond, utilities, moving costs and more. As a result, tenants may decided to postpone the purchase of contents insurance or decide against it altogether. Some tenants choose not to get contents insurance because they feel their belongings are not valuable enough to insure.

If you’re a tenant, you need insurance.

Covering your own belongings is only a small part of Tenant’s contents insurance. As a Tenant it is extremely important to have personal liability policy to protect you from any careless damage you or your guests may cause to the property – whether it was intentional or accidental.

For example, if an unattended pan on the stove causes a kitchen fire that damages the stove, walls and ceiling, you are likely to be held responsible for the entire cost of the repair work, which could easily be upwards of $20,000. In light of this, the value of your iPod or laptop is miniscule.

There have been documented cases of tenants being held jointly responsible for damage caused by one flatmate or their guest(s). This is particularly common in university flatting situations, where four or five students may share a rental property and may invite friends over quite regularly.  Check out this news article on a situation which left a group of renters facing a $150,000 debt and remember this can happen to anyone.

Contents insurance is affordable and nearly all plans include public liability coverage.   Alternately, you could opt for a standalone personal liability policy, which would provide coverage in the event of damage during your tenancy. There are often other benefits to obtaining renter’s insurance beyond coverage of just your personal belongings. Many insurance policies will give you coverage on additional situations, such as travel insurance.

Rental Insurances FAQ

Our long-standing position and valued experience as Property Managers in Christchurch has given us insight into the complexities of the various insurances available to tenants. Below are a number of questions we frequently get asked by tenants.

Does my landlord have insurance? Am I covered by their policy?

Nearly all landlords take out some type of insurance policy to protect their investment property. While your landlord may have your rental property insured, it is unlikely that their policy will protect you if you have caused the damage (intentionally or accidental). In the event of a claim, an investigation by the insurance company will be performed to identify the responsible party.  If you (or a guest in your home) are found responsible, then the insurance company will take action against you, the tenant.

In addition, your landlord’s insurance will not protect your belongings if they are damaged by events outside of your control (for example, a fire caused by faulty electrical wiring).  The insurance will cover damage to the property itself but not your personal belongings. To ensure that you are protected, you must take out your own contents insurance.

Will insurance cover my rent payments if I lose my job?

There are policies designed to protect you in the event that you lose your job or are unable to work for a period of time due to illness or disability. This type of insurance policy is known as “Tenant Protection Insurance.”  We would also highly recommend that tenants consider taking out a policy that covers them in the event of lost wages.

Am I covered by my flatmate’s Insurance Policy?

Contents and liability policies vary between providers. Be sure to explain your flatting situation to your Insurance Consultant. It’s possible that you’ll need a policy to cover each person living in the flat or you may be able to have one policy with each flatmate’s name on it. Remember: if your name is on the lease, you are responsible for any damaged caused during your tenancy.

Where can I take out an Insurance Policy?

Most New Zealand banks offer Contents Insurance – this is a good place to start exploring your options. NZAA offers contents insurance at discounted rates to members. If you’re interested in Tenant Protection Insurance, we can recommend a plan by Southsure Insurance.