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If you're living in a shared house, it's a smart idea to get contents insurance so you can protect your stuff. We're not saying your housemates might steal from you, but you can't help it if someone accidentally leaves the bathtub running, or the stove top on.
This is ideal for people who are renting a room in a shared house. If you own the house, a full home insurance policy would be more suitable.
If you’re living in a share house and you want insurance cover for your valuable possessions, there are two options to choose from:
You can take out a contents-only insurance policy which will protect your belongings in the share house against fire, theft, storm and accidental damage, plus it can also provide protection for your legal liability. The only catch with this one is that you're usually paying to cover your entire household (so it might be a good idea to get your housemates to pitch in!).
Also known as portable contents cover, this type of policy can be particularly handy if you want cover for those items you regularly take with you when you leave home, such as jewellery, sunglasses, and musical instruments. It allows you to cover your contents both at home and away from home, providing protection against accidental loss or damage, theft and a range of other events. It's available as an additional extra on your regular contents insurance policy.
If you want to get cover for things like your laptop, phone, or really expensive jewellery, then you can add on cover for these separately. It's important to get these valued separately and make sure that they're all listed individually in your policy.
Finding cover for a share house can be tricky. The conditions surrounding share accommodation can be confusing and, often, the specific details are not listed in the product disclosure statement.
So we contacted several Australian home insurance brands and asked them to answer the most important questions for house sharers.
|Woolworths||The policy covers all tenants|
|Youi||The policy covers all tenants|
|AAMI||You can get individual cover|
|Allianz||The policy covers all tenants|
|Australian Unity||The policy covers all tenants|
|CGU||The policy covers all tenants|
|GIO||You can get individual cover|
|Woolworths||Maximum of three (3) unrelated people|
|Youi||Maximum of three (3) unrelated people|
|AAMI||No maximum listed|
|Allianz||Maximum of three (3) unrelated people|
|Australian Unity||Maximum of three (3) unrelated people|
|CGU||Maximum of two (2) unrelated people|
|GIO||Maximum of five (5) unrelated people|
One common question renters have when looking for insurance cover is whether the policy covers all the belongings in a share house, or whether you can tailor cover so that you only have to pay for protection for your own stuff. After all, you already do most of the cooking and cleaning in your share house, and you’re the only one who ever remembers bin night, so why should you have to fork out for insurance cover for your housemates’ stuff?
When you take out renter’s contents insurance, most insurers won’t allow you to purchase cover for just one section of the house, such as your room. You will need to take out cover for the whole house, but you can tailor your policy so that it only covers your stuff. You can list all your important belongings on the policy, including computers, cameras, jewellery and other expensive items, and leave everyone else’s belongings off the policy.
If your flatmate is willing to chip in for cover, another option is to purchase renter’s insurance that covers both your belongings. This means you can split the cost of cover between the two of you and ensure that you have the financial protection you need. However, things can get complicated if you have multiple flatmates that all want cover.
Many insurers will refuse to sell you a policy if there are more than three non-related roommates looking to take out cover, so check with different insurers to see if they are willing to offer the protection you need.
While the exact cover provided will differ between insurers, a comprehensive renter’s insurance policy will usually include cover for:
Renter’s insurance can provide cover for the following items:
You’ll need to document any item you want to cover, so remember to keep your receipts, take photos of items and keep track of anything else that could home in handy if you need to prove your ownership of an item or its value.
There are certain situations when renter’s insurance cannot provide any cover. For example, many insurers will refuse to cover you if there are more than three unrelated people living in the same share house. See our section 'Who offers cover for share houses?' for more information. You generally won't be covered:
Here are some examples of share-house situations that could be covered by a renter’s insurance policy:
The risks covered by renter’s contents insurance differ depending on the policy you select, so check the PDS for full details of the cover available.
The right level of renter’s insurance cover will depend on your belongings, your financial circumstances and your risk tolerance.
To decide how much cover you need, take some time to itemise all the important items you own. How much would it cost to replace all those items if, for example, your share house was gutted by fire? You might be surprised to learn just how much all your valuables are worth put together, and it’s important to consider whether you’d be able to afford to replace them if you lost everything.
Next, think about how much cover you actually want. Would you be happy with a fire and theft policy, which covers the two most common risks renters face and has more affordable premiums? Or would you prefer the high-level protection and peace of mind that only a comprehensive policy can cover?
By answering these questions, you’ll get a better idea of just how much renter’s insurance cover is enough for you.
For most people, renter’s insurance is not tax deductible. However, if you work from home or if part of your home is used to run a business, you may be able to claim a portion of your renter’s insurance premiums as a tax deduction. The tax treatment of this type of cover varies depending on your personal circumstances, so contact your accountant for expert advice tailored to your situation.
Keep the following tips in mind to help you find the right renter’s insurance policy for your needs:
Make things easier for yourself and check out our guide for first time renters.
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