Renters are risking £50 billion worth of belongings

Article date: 14 November 2007

  • Insurers warn of growing risks with the credit crunch

Over two million British renters are putting an average of £23,195¹ worth of possessions at risk because they fail to take out home contents insurance, according to new research out today.

The research by Norwich Union, the UK's biggest insurer, reveals that tenants are much less likely than homeowners to have home contents insurance with 72%² of the 2.9 million³ privately rented properties in the UK without a policy. This represents more than £50 billion worth of belongings at constant risk from theft and accidental damage.

The research highlights the top three reasons why renters do not take out home contents insurance as being:

  1. High costs (30%)
  2. Not enough possessions to make it worth while (16%)
  3. It's not essential (11%).

Even more surprising was that nearly half (43%) said they weren't at all concerned about being burgled, and over a third (36%) said they weren't worried about possessions being destroyed in flood or fire, despite recent summer floods.

Norwich Union warns that matters are set to get worse as house prices continue to be out of reach for most first-time buyers and more youngsters opt for paying rent rather than a mortgage. Add to that the increasing cost of utility bills, council tax and credit card debts and home contents insurance is often the first expense to go.

The research shows that young people aged between 18 and 24 are feeling the greatest strain, as one in two (55%) do not have home contents insurance - higher than any other age group.

But scrimping on home insurance could be a false economy when the unthinkable happens and your hard-earned belongings are stolen, damaged or ruined beyond repair.

Jasmine Birtles, financial expert from, comments: "It's not surprising that many young renters cut back on contents insurance. The rising cost of living, including higher rents in some areas, means that they need to cut costs. Insurance is often the first to go.

"But many of these renters are also young professionals with highly disposable incomes which they spend on luxury goods like plasma screens, laptops, ipods and designer clothes. They often have no idea that their possessions are worth tens of thousands of pounds, making them very attractive to burglars. Even if you think of yourself as 'just a tenant' it is still important to protect what you have."

Private renters are also one of the most mobile of groups. Figures from this year's British Crime Survey suggest that your risk of burglary almost doubles if you have lived at an address for less than a year.4

Peter Cormack, household underwriter at Norwich Union, said: "Our research appears to show that a lot of young renters don't really understand insurance let alone consider it. It's worth bearing in mind that insurance not only covers you from burglary but also for all the other household mishaps like damage caused by bath and shower leaks, which are extremely common and can damage serious amounts of property. Let's also not forget storm damage and floods where claims can cost many thousands of pounds. 

"Household insurance is still pretty good value. Insuring around £15,000 worth of contents can start at as little as £50 a year5 that's the price of a pint of beer or a glass of wine a month! Some might say that's a small price to pay for peace of mind."

Jasmine Birtles has teamed up with Norwich Union to provide money saving advice and tips for renters:

  • Don't assume that your belongings will be covered by your landlord's policy. As the tenant you have responsibility for your contents in the property. The landlord is responsible for insuring the buildings and any furnishings he or she has provided.
  • Similarly don't assume you are covered by your parents' insurance. This only applies when you are living in "temporary accommodation" like student halls when at university.
  • Most insurers will include "tenants liability" cover in their household policies for renters. This means that if you cause damage to the landlord's fixtures and fittings you are covered for most eventualities - So if you accidentally broke the sink or a window you would be covered under this section.
  • Your belongings are worth more than you think. Take a few minutes and tot up all those cds, computer games, shoes, clothes not to mention the iPods and wide-screen tvs. It's almost certainly cheaper to insure them than it would be to have to replace them yourself.
  • Consider buying insurance online, often there's a discount. Paying up front may also save a few pounds as some insurers charge a small percentage for direct debit payments.
  • If you are on good terms with your landlord ask them about installing a burglar alarm, extra locks or putting a gate across any open alleyways at the side of the house. This means both their building and your contents are more secure and it could reduce your premiums.


Press office contacts:
Sophie Lam
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6482

Emilie Lien
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6421

Rebecca Holmes
Norwich Union Press Office
Telephone: 01603 354 346/07800 690 731

Notes to editor:

1 £23,195 is the average sum insured by tenants in rented properties: Source Norwich Union Direct Data January - August 2007.

2 72% is the number of renters without contents insurance from ICM poll. Total sample size was 600 adults who rent properties. The survey was conducted by telephone in December 2006. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB.

3 Number of privately rented properties in the UK: 2,995,000. Source: Communities and Local Government Number Live Tables on Stock, August 2007.

4 British Crime Survey, "Households at most risk of burglary" July 2007.

5 Quote is from Norwich Union Direct for home contents insurance. Standard cover no additions, low rated postcode area.

£50,017,698,000 is the total worth of belongings which uninsured renters are putting at risk. Figure was calculated by subtracting the percentage of adults renting who do not have the home contents insurance (72%) from the number of private rented dwellings (2,995,000) and multiplying by the average sum insured in private dwellings (£23,195).

About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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