Like many kids who go away to university, I was once a serial tenant, living in six different apartments and houses over an eight-year period in Vancouver. In all that time, I never thought about tenants' insurance—until I moved in with my very sensible boyfriend. He'd had tenants' insurance since day one, and added me to his policy as soon as I moved in.

A few months later, the worst happened when our apartment building caught on fire. Firefighters used our top floor apartment as a staging ground, tore open the roof and soaked the contents of our apartment with hundreds of gallons of water. At the end of a very long day, our salad days on west 4th avenue were over. Still, we had insurance.

Miraculously, the bare-bones policy covered a two-week hotel stay, cleaning and restoration costs, plus a lump sum payment for the loss of items deemed unsalvageable. I've never been without a policy since.

Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Your kids might already be protected under your policy. Check with your company and if not, you can usually buy coverage over the phone. Make sure to get extra coverage if they're taking valuables with them to school.
  • It's affordable. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, it costs less per month than a daily coffee run.
  •  It costs more to replace things than you think. Have them keep a running tab of all valuables, and take photos of items like bikes, electronics, jewelry and collectibles.
  • It covers additional expenses after a loss. As happened to us, they might need to stay in a hotel temporarily. Insurance covers this cost.
  • It covers them if they unintentionally cause damage to someone else's rental unit. Ever leave a bath running? Covers that.
  • It protects them from unintentional harm caused to someone visiting their unit. The slip and fall thing.
  • It protects them from legal actions stemming from a third party, including legal costs and potential settlements.

The experts concur: "Starting school away from home is one of the most exciting times in a young person's life, but it brings more responsibility," says Amanda Dean, Vice-President, Atlantic, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). "To help make sure your belongings are taken care of, tenant insurance is a must. It's something you can't afford not to have."

Amen, I say.


Personal Finance