Explore Home & Contents Insurance

Many people have varying insurance needs, from landlords and tenants to owner-occupiers. While some might require full home and contents cover, others may only need to cover their contents or get a home insurance policy for their investment property.

We’ve broken down each type of policy and what they can offer you in this guide to home and contents insurance.

What type of home & contents insurance are you interested in?

Jump to the section most relevant to you below.

Insurance for renters

If you’re a tenant in a rental property, you won’t need to take out home insurance or building cover for the physical structure of the property; that’s your landlord’s or the building owner’s responsibility.

However, you are responsible for the safekeeping of your own possessions. Contents insurance (or renters insurance) is a suitable policy for renters to protect their belongings from loss, damage or theft.

Read our guide for first-time renters for more information.

What is covered by contents insurance?

Contents insurance only covers your contents in the event they’re damaged by certain insured events (e.g. fire or theft). With renters insurance, you can protect your furnishings, clothing, electronics and other items found in your home against loss, theft or damage.

Depending on your insurer and policy, you can also insure specific items that you regularly take out of the house (like your bicycle, phone or handbag) with personal effects/valuables cover.

Some events that your contents insurance policy could cover your belongings for include:

  • Floods
  • Fires and smoke
  • Theft or burglary
  • Storms and cyclones
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunami damage
  • Leakages and escape of liquid
  • Accidental and malicious damage (vandalism)

Some of these coverages may be automatically included in your contents insurance, while others may be offered as optional extras you can include in your policy for an additional cost.

N.B. Contents insurance for tenants will usually provider cover up to certain limits, sub-limits, terms and conditions. Make sure you check the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for a full list of inclusions and exclusions in your policy.

What optional extras can I add to my policy?

Depending on your renter’s insurance policy, you may have the option to add additional cover for things like:

  • Credit card theft for when credit cards are physically stolen (there is usually a dollar limit on the amount you can claim).
  • Food spoilage due to power outages, blackouts, or your fridge breaking down.
  • Legal liability for financial assistance with legal and medical costs if anyone is accidentally injured within your property.

If you’re moving to a new house, some contents policies may also include transit insurance. This provides limited cover against things like fires and car accidents when your contents are being moved by professional movers to another property.

Keep in mind that any optional extras you add to your policy will usually incur an additional cost.

How much does contents insurance cost?

Your contents insurance premiums depend on a number of things, including the value of the belongings you want to insure. Another factor that may affect the cost of your contents insurance is any item that’s particularly expensive to replace, which will usually need to be added separately to your policy for an additional cost. As well as the value of your possessions, the excess can also affect how much a policy costs.

Couple moving into new home

Insurance for homeowners (owner-occupiers)

As a homeowner or owner-occupier, you’ll presumably want to safeguard your investment any way you can, as it’s one of your most valuable assets. Home insurance is one way you can do this.

Your mortgage lender may even require you to take out an adequate home insurance policy to cover your property’s replacement costs. This is because your lender is also investing in your home.

What are my insurance options as a homeowner?

  • Home insurance will cover you for loss or damage that happens to your home’s physical structure caused by certain events (e.g. fire or storm).
  • Contents insurance covers the loss or damage to the interior finishes and belongings like appliances, furniture, clothes or valuables. Some policies may even have limited transit insurance to cover contents when you’re moving to a new home.

As a homeowner or owner-occupier, you can also get a combined home and contents insurance policy to cover all bases. Should anything happen to your home or the contents inside it, you could be reimbursed up to the sum-insured amount listed on your policy if you’re suitably insured.

How much will home and contents insurance cost?

The cost of home and contents insurance will be unique to each person and can be affected by several factors. If you want to get an idea of how much home and contents insurance could cost you, you can complete a quote through our comparison service.

Certain events may be specifically covered by your policy (like storm damage), while others may not be (like flood damage). This why it’s important to:

  1. Know what you’re covered for.
  2. Understand the difference between cover for defined/listed events and accidental damage.
  3. Make sure you have the right cover for events things that may affect you.

Be sure to check the PDS to understand your policy benefits, limits, terms and conditions. You should also make sure that you’re adequately insured for certain events.

To weigh up the value of combined home and contents cover against just holding contents insurance, you should determine the total cost of repairing or replacing your home structure as well as the additional costs of replacing the interior fit-out, furnishings, valuables and belongings.

Insurance for landlords

Becoming a landlord and investing in property can help you grow your investment portfolio and provide an extra source of income. As such, it’s important to know how to protect your property and understand the responsibilities that come with being a landlord.

Landlords insurance is a type of home insurance designed specifically for property owners.

What does landlords insurance cover?

Depending on the insurer and policy, landlords insurance may cover you for loss, theft or malicious damage to your rental property. This type of policy may also cover you for repairing or rebuilding your investment property after a natural disaster, such as a storm, flood or fire. A landlords insurance policy can also cover landlords for loss of rental income due to tenant default, although this may be offered as an optional extra.

As well as cover for the building, landlords insurance will usually cover fixed items like:

  • Light fittings
  • Carpets
  • Curtains
  • Window coverings
  • Ovens
  • Stovetops.

Landlords insurance can also cover your legal liability if a tenant is injured or their property damaged in your rental home. Remember to always read your PDS to know exactly what you’re covered for.

Why is landlords insurance important?

We always hope that tenants will do the right thing, but sometimes things can go wrong. Your investment home could be damaged, the lease could be broken or your tenant might not pay the rent. Don’t forget, this is Australia, where natural disasters are all too common. Without landlords insurance, you could be thousands of dollars out-of-pocket if something like this happens to you.

Which is why finding the right policy is so important. Luckily, this is where we can help. No matter the type of home you’re renting out, we can help you compare great-value landlord insurance in just minutes with our home and contents insurance comparison tool.

Strata insurance

Strata or body corporate fees are a levy that property owners usually pay to be part of a gated townhouse community, complex or apartment building. The strata fee is put towards paying for maintenance or repairs to common areas and shared utilities, building insurance and other building works.

If you own a block of units or strata-titled property, your insurance options are usually more complicated. Strata-titled properties will be provisioned with specific strata insurance, which every owner pays for via their strata fees. Renters don’t pay strata or body corporate fees, since their landlord or building’s owner will cover it.

What does strata insurance cover?

Strata insurance covers the cost for repairs or replacement of both the external walls of a building and common property in a strata-titled complex. However, prices will vary between properties and types of insurance depending on how much the property building would cost to repair or replace.

It’s common for strata insurance to cover fixtures and amenities like:

  • Elevators and stairways
  • Common entries and exits
  • Exterior walls and windows
  • Balconies
  • Roofs, gutters, ceilings and floors
  • Shared gardens and garden equipment
  • Wiring
  • Shared swimming pools
  • Car parks
  • Legal liability for accidents that happen on common property (e.g. outside your unit’s walls).

Generally, strata insurance (like home insurance) won’t cover you for the interior walls as well as fixings like blinds, curtains or carpets; these are usually covered by landlords insurance. A strata policy also won’t cover your personal belongings, which can be protected by contents insurance. In some instances, strata insurance may cover fixed (unmoveable) parts of your building, like ducted air conditioning.

As such, owner-occupiers or renters will still need to take out a contents only policy if they want to cover their possessions in a strata-titled property.

Apartment complex

What affects your home and contents insurance premiums?

The amount you pay for your insurance will vary, as there are several factors that can affect your home and contents premium. The biggest of these is the value of the building and the contents you want to insure. Other factors may include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

Your excess

Your excess is the amount you may be required to pay when you make a claim. Excesses vary across policies and insurers.

To see how an excess works, let’s say a storm damaged your home and the repair costs sit at $5,000. If your policy has a $500 excess agreement, you’d need to pay this amount to your insurer. They will then provide the remaining $4,500 (whether as a payout to you or in repairs or replacement costs).

If you need to make a claim on your combined home and contents policy for both your home and possessions for the same event, you will usually only pay one excess, which will likely be the highest excess fee out of the two.

If your home is damaged again later from a different event, you will usually need to pay another excess for the new claim.

Your sum insured

This is how much you choose to insure your home and contents for and it can impact your premium. Generally, the more you’re insured for, the higher your premiums will be.

Your home and suburb security

A high crime rate in your neighbourhood could increase your premiums. Conversely, living in a safer area or having additional security installed at your home (e.g. fences, alarms or cameras) may reduce your premiums.

Age and structure of your home

For example, an older tin roof might be more likely to leak in a storm and damage your contents, which means a higher likelihood of claims being made. This increased risk may then bump up your premiums. Conversely, a sturdy new brick home may cost less to insure than an older wooden home.

Natural hazard risks

If your home is in a risky area, like a flood or bushfire zone, you might find your premiums will increase in line with the higher probability of a claim being made for these events.

Any optional extras you add to your policy

Naturally, adding more cover to your policy will lead to an increase in premiums. How much that increase will be, though, depends on your insurer and how many extras you add.

Some optional covers you might find in various home and contents policies include:

How to avoid a common insurance mistake

It’s important to carefully research a suitable home and contents policy, to avoid a common home and contents insurance mistake: underinsurance.

Taking the time to calculate the replacement cost of your home and its contents will help you arrange a more accurate level of cover. Remember that you want to factor in enough money to rebuild your home and replace your contents should something happen.

For example, if your house was insured for $500,000 but is actually worth closer to $700,000 to rebuild, you will only be paid the sum-insured: $500,000. This means you stand to lose a lot of money and possibly pay back a mortgage on a house that has lost its value.

Another thing to remember is to update your contents policy with new possessions. Make sure you audit your home and re-assess the value of your home and contents each year when your policy is renewed. You should take into account any extensions, renovations or expensive furnishings or electronics you have purchased in the last 12 months.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the right type of insurance for my home?

To help you decide which policy is the most suitable to your home, we’ve summarised the coverage offered by each type in the following table.

 HomeContentsStrata
Renterx

Covered by landlord

x

If applicable, covered by landlord

Owner-occupier

If applicable, covered by your body corporate fees

Landlord

Covers landlords contents. Tenant’s belongings are covered by their own renters insurance

If applicable, covered by your body corporate fees

Does renters insurance cover flood damage?

Flood damage to an area within your home is generally beyond your control. If you have a contents insurance policy as a renter, it will usually cover the replacement of your belongings that are damaged or destroyed by flooding. However, some policies might not automatically include flood cover, although it’ll likely be offered as an optional extra you can add on. Just keep in mind that any optional extras you add to your policy will likely affect your premiums.

Any flood damage to the home’s physical structure should be covered by landlords insurance.

Depending on your renter’s insurance policy, there will be specific terms, conditions and possible limits on the amount you can claim for flood damage to your contents.

It’s best to check with your insurer or your PDS for more information on what you’re covered for.

Does renters insurance cover bike theft?

If you get the right policy with the right extras, contents insurance for renters can offer replacement or repair costs for items that are kept outdoors or outside of your address, including bicycles, sporting equipment and gardening tools. Contents insurance will generally cover these things if they’re damaged or stolen, whether they’re kept inside or outside. There may be conditions to this coverage, though, such as taking reasonable steps to prevent theft (like bike locks).

Do I need home insurance if I own a flat or unit?

If you own a property that includes insurance as part of your strata or body corporate payments, this will generally provide home insurance cover for any damage to your home’s physical structure. However, strata insurance will not protect your contents or valuables, which is where you will need contents insurance.

However, if you live in and own a unit without any strata insurance, you will need to purchase home insurance and contents insurance. It’s best to check with the property manager to determine your pre-existing level of cover.

Still have questions? We answer them in our home and contents FAQs.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Meet our home and contents expert, Stephen Zeller

As the General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market, Stephen Zeller works to make it easier for homeowners, renters, and landlords to protect their home and contents whilst empowering people with choice. He believes it’s important to have adequate financial cover in the event of a fire, damage from storms, flooding or vandalism.

Stephen has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. He is an Allied member of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) and ensures any information about insurance products that we publish is accurate and comprehensive.

Stephen’s top insurance tips

  • To avoid the risk claims for storm damage, make sure your roof is well maintained and that your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.
  • Consider subscribing to an emergency alert service, particularly if you live in a flood-prone area. That way, you will receive warnings of potentially damaging weather events before they happen.
  • If you’re going away for an extended period, make sure you let your insurer know. You might find that they won’t cover homes that are left uninhabited for a long time (e.g. 60 or more days).

Whether you’re a renter, homeowner or landlord, your home is your castle and your belongings your treasures; you shouldn’t risk either of them. We can help you compare different cover options and quotes from a range of insurers, to make sure your home and contents have the right protection.

It only takes a few minutes to find great-value insurance for your living situation and budget with our free home and contents insurance comparison tool. So, why not get started now?

Ready to look for a better deal? It’s easy to compare with us.

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