Home Insurance Coverage C: Contents Insurance

Contents Coverage – For Your Personal Belongings

Contents

Contents insurance, usually a part of most homeowners’ policies, covers the physical possessions in your home in case of damage, theft, or vandalism.

Contents coverage also insures your possessions when they are removed from the home, like the iPod you take to the gym or the golf clubs in your trunk. All of the items owned by you are considered property by an insurance adjuster, providing coverage even when your valuables are not physically on your property.

What Does Contents Insurance Cover?

The most popular type of home insurance, comprehensive coverage, protects your belongings, as well as the building, from common perils such as fire, theft, vandalism, and more. Less popular is broad form coverage, which only protects your belongings from a shorter list of named perils.

Note that there is usually an absolute dollar limit to how much you can claim, and there will be sub-limits for high-value items like jewellery, antiques, cash, furs, collectibles etc. If you have high-value items, you can usually buy extra insurance for those items.

The following table represents common items and ranges of contents coverage offered by insurers in Ontario. Contents coverage and protection limits will differ from policy to policy, separate endorsements are available to increase coverage limits oh high-value items such as jewelry and art. Be sure to speak with a broker for complete details and sound advice that makes the most sense for your lifestyle.

Home Insurance Contents Coverage
Contents Coverage (Personal Property)Coverage Amount1
Personal Property Incl. Replacement Cost The cost to fully replace your personal property70% – 80% of Dwelling Building Coverage
Property of a Student Personal property of student attending school, college, or university, while temporarily living away from home.$2,500 – $20,000
Personal Property in Nursing Home Personal property belonging to you or a parent who is dependent on you or your spouse, while they live in a nursing home.$5,000 – $20,000
Property Stored in Warehouse Your personal belongings stored in a storage container or mini-warehouse.Up to 30 days/$5,000
Special Limits of Insurance2
Animals, Birds, & Fish$1,000 – $3,000
Auto Parts$1,000 – $2,500
Bicycles including parts, equipment, and accessories$1,000 – $3,000
Boats$1,000 – $6,000
Business Property (on premises)$2,000 – $10,000
Collectable (Sports, etc.) Cards & Comic books$2,000 – $10,000
Computer Software$1,000 – $10,000
Garden Tractors Garden-type tractors, self-propelled lawn mowers, and snow removal equipment, including attachments & accessories$5,000 – $15,000
Golf Carts$5,000 – $10,000
Golf Clubs$3,000 – Coverage C
(Contents) limit
Jewellery, Watches, Gems and Furs$2,000 – $25,000
Money/Bullion$500 – $1,000
Numismatic Property (Coin or Banknote Collections)$500 – $5,000
Philatelic Property (Stamp collections)$500 – $5,000
Securities$2,000 – $10,000
Trailers$1,000 – $2,000

1The range of coverage amounts offered amongst Ontario insurers.
2Contents with special coverage limits. Personal Articles floaters are available to increase limits for these items.

In general, your policy will be priced according to an evaluation by your insurance adjuster, but any changes to your home’s interior or the possessions you own may require a policy adjustment. Any significant purchase, like expensive jewelry or a new computer, should be reported to your insurance company to be sure proper protection is maintained.

Be sure to speak with a broker for complete details on contents coverage options in Ontario.

See All Coverage Options

List of all home insurance coverage options

Learn more about what's covered by home insurance in Ontario.

Contents Coverage as a Tenant

While property or contents insurance is usually included in most homeowners’ policies, it is not always part of a tenants or renters policy. Tenant insurance, required by many landlords, provides a safety net in case you cause damage to the property you are renting. Most tenant policies include the basics, like water damage, theft, fire, and vandalism, but many do not automatically include your possessions.

Even if you think your belongings are not valuable enough to warrant additional coverage, the expense of replacing everything you own could add up to thousands of dollars quickly. A few extra dollars a month on your tenant/renter’s policy today could mean big savings tomorrow should something happen to your apartment or other rented dwelling.

Common Questions About Contents Insurance in Ontario

What's covered under contents insurance?

Contents insurance – sometimes called ‘personal property insurance’ – can be part of a homeowners or tenants/renters policy, and can cover anything that belongs to the policyholder that’s not a permanent fixture of the building. This can include clothes, furniture, electronics, appliances, tools, kitchenware, linens, snowblowers, lawnmowers, rugs, window coverings. Even the food in your freezer is usually covered. Ask your insurance professional if anything is specifically excluded.

Will home contents insurance cover theft?

Yes. Contents insurance covers your personal possessions if they’re stolen, even if they’re stolen while you’re away from home. Remember that you will have a deductible, so a minor theft may not be worth claiming.

How much is contents insurance for renters?

You can protect your personal possessions (up to $100,000) for as little as $200/year, as part of a tenants policy that also covers you for up to $1,000,000 in personal liability if someone is hurt in your apartment, and additional living expenses if a fire, wind storm, evacuation order or other mishap forces you out of your apartment for a week, a month or longer. The exact premium will depend on how much you own and other factors like where you live and whether you’ve made claims before.

Can I get contents insurance for 1 month? 6 months?

Most insurance companies won’t sell you an insurance policy for less than a year. Some may offer a 6-month policy, but the cost per month will likely be considerably higher than for a 1-year policy. If you buy a 1-year policy and then cancel before the policy ends, you will be entitled to a partial refund, but cancellation fees and/or penalties will apply.

How much contents coverage do I need?

That depends on how much stuff you own, and whether you’d need to replace it all if it was stolen, lost in a fire etc. Your insurance broker will ask you questions to try to get a rough idea. If you’re bad at math, a good guideline is $7,000 per room in your home. That includes bathrooms and garage.

Remember that you are only covered for the current value of your stuff unless you specify ‘replacement value’. So that big screen TV you paid $1,200 for 5 years ago may only be worth $100 today. You may want extra coverage for high-value items like jewellery, antiques, cash, furs, collectibles etc., as those items may not be fully covered otherwise.

Can you cancel contents insurance anytime?

Yes. You can cancel your contents insurance whenever you want, but if you cancel in the middle of the policy to save money, you may be disappointed, as cancellation fees and/or penalties will apply.

When is contents coverage required?

There is no legal requirement for contents insurance, but if you own stuff and you can’t afford to replace that stuff on your own in the event of a fire, theft or other mishap, then you need contents insurance.

Can I get contents insurance in a shared house?

If you share a house or apartment with one or more roommates (anyone who isn’t your spouse, common-law spouse, child, parent, grandparent or grandchild), you can certainly get a homeowners or renters policy that will include contents coverage for your stuff. But each of you will require your own insurance policy to cover your own stuff. Likewise, if you rent or lease part of a house (like a basement apartment or even if you rent a bedroom), you are not covered by the homeowner’s policy. You need your own contents, liability and additional living expense coverage.

Can I claim on contents insurance without a receipt?

The short answer is yes, but you’ll probably get a smaller cheque that way. If you have water damage, for instance, an adjuster can come and visually confirm which items have been damaged, and then you and the insurer can come to an agreement on the value of those items. With a fire or theft claim, that may be impossible. The adjuster will have to rely on what you told your broker when you last updated the policy, and perhaps a police report, to estimate your losses.
If you want the maximum payout after a loss, you should keep receipts, preferably not in the house itself (they won’t help you if the house burns down). You can even keep a video or photo inventory of your stuff. Remember that high-value items like jewellery, furs, cash and collectibles probably won’t be fully covered by a standard policy, even if you have receipts.

What is portable contents insurance?

Portable contents insurance means that the policy protects your belongings when they are in your home, and when they are out and about with you. So, for example, if your golf clubs are stolen from your car, that would be covered on portable contents insurance. Most home policies in Canada include portable contents coverage.

How much is contents insurance for students?

Students, whether they live at home or are away at school, are covered under their parents’ home insurance policy until they turn 26. Most insurance companies limit the amount of contents coverage available to a student who is living away from home to $5,000 or 5% of the parents’ contents limit. Students who take more than $5,000 worth of stuff away to school can usually buy a basic tenants insurance policy for $200-300 a year.

Are pets covered under contents insurance?

A typical home or tenants policy in Ontario will include $1,000 to $3,000 in contents coverage for pets. You can buy more coverage if you need it.

If I have a car I don’t drive, is it covered for theft, fire etc. under my contents policy?

No. All vehicles need their own insurance, whether you drive them or not. If you don’t currently use the vehicle, you may be able to get comprehensive coverage only (theft, fire, vandalism etc.), but most insurers will only offer this if you have another vehicle on the policy with all the mandatory coverage for driving (liability, accident benefits etc.).

Making sure your possessions are protected is as easy as one phone call. If you have any questions about home insurance or contents insurance, the insurance experts at Mitchell & Whale would be pleased to help you. Feel free to call us at 1-800-731-2228 or email us at info@mitchellwhale.com.


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