Common policy components

As you shop around and weigh one tenant insurance policy against another, here are the most common elements you’ll see:

Personal belongings and contents
You can specify certain contents and exclude others. And you’ll have the option to select a specific amount of coverage against the contents of your home or what is known as “all perils coverage”, which protects you from the widest range of potential risks (and will only exclude those that are specified in your policy). Special limits coverage is also an option to cover certain personal belongings that are not considered standard such as animals, business property at your home, collectibles, sports equipment and watercrafts.

Non-owned property
If you have other people’s personal belongings in your possession at the time of a loss, it may be covered under your tenant insurance policy as long as those belongings don’t have other insurance coverage.

Personal property somewhere else
All your personal property is protected under your tenant insurance policy even if that property is temporarily out of your home, for example, in your car or during travel.

Additional living expenses
If your home suffers a loss and it’s covered under your tenant insurance policy then you may be entitled to coverage for other expenses associated with living outside your house, apartment or unit during the repair process. The most common additional living expenses covered under any tenant insurance policy are moving costs, storage, hotel accommodations and restaurant meals.

Personal liability
Whether you’re at home or anywhere else in the world, your tenant policy’s personal liability coverage is what gives you financial protection in the event that you unintentionally cause injury or property damage to someone else. If it happens in your home or outside of your home, if you’re sued or there’s never a lawsuit, your tenant insurance policy pays for property damage and medical bills even if you’re not legally responsible, and it pays the legal costs associated with your defense if you’re taken to court. It’s wise to purchase as much personal liability coverage as you can: at least $1 million and up to $2 million if you’re able.

Voluntary medical payments
Some tenant insurance policies will pay reasonable medical expenses for up to one year following an accident on your property, even if you’re not legally liable. These medical expenses might be surgical, dental, nursing or ambulance related.

Voluntary property damage
If you have unintentionally caused direct damage to another property, there are tenant insurance policies that will pay even if you’re not found to be legally responsible.

Extensions of coverage
Every tenant insurance policy must specify precisely what is covered. The “extensions of coverage” section indicates what is automatically included in your policy, unless stated otherwise.

Just a few of these include:

  • By-law coverage
  • Debris removal
  • Frozen food protection
  • Charges from the fire department
  • Lock replacement
  • Personal records recovery (from a computer)

Optional endorsements
There are always additional coverages you can purchase if you feel the need. For example, water coverage isn’t usually covered by standard tenant insurance policies but it’s a common add-on by many Torontonians these days. Or maybe you have particularly valuable items inside your home that you want to protect. Whatever your special needs may be, there is always an added coverage you can purchase to make sure you’re adequately protected from every angle. Here are a few of the most common optional endorsements:

  • Sewer backup coverage
  • Overland water
  • Special personal articles
  • Higher coverage for jewellery
  • Home business coverage
  • Earthquake coverage
  • Identity theft coverage

This is one of the most important questions you’ll ask right upfront. What am I required to pay out of pocket every time I file a claim? This is your deductible. Before your insurance policy pays a dime, your deductible is the amount you must pay.