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Q: With his landlord's permission, I recently moved into a basement suite with my partner. I'm not on any tenancy agreement, so fall under 'occupancy without signed agreement'. Between us, we have three young children. However, we won't be considered common-law for at least two years, so are currently sort of "roommates" and sort of "partners". I'm not sure if the form of our relationship impacts the scenario...

The company I've had tenants insurance with wants to double my premium over my last place, citing 'older property'. Having only about $2000 worth of possessions, I'm not keen on paying $500/yr (that's an entire month's rent in this suite) on a policy with $500 deductible.

In this situation, how should I approach insurance? Should I have tenants insurance regardless of being only an occupant? Should just my partner/roommate have a policy? Would my possessions and/or errors be covered through his? Or should we be listed together on a policy?

A: There is a court case of some note where the tenant was after an insurance pay-out following a 3-alarm middle-of-the-night fire. The tenant was showing the Judge photographs of the rental premises before the fire, during the fire, and after the fire. The Judge then asked the landlord if he had any pictures of the premises during the fire. The landlord responded that ‘No’, he didn’t have any pictures of the premises during the fire for the simple reason that he ‘didn’t even know there was going to be a fire’!
But I digress. Your question to me is really a question about calculating your risk. Should you pay $500 a year for tenants’ insurance, with a $500 deductible, and on $2000 worth of possessions? Tragically, some tenants have trouble ponying up a regular monthly insurance premium because they see it as an extra outlay of cold hard, hard to come by cash. These people would be wrong. Tenants’ insurance is an investment, and the cost of the insurance premium should be calculated into the whole rental picture. Thefts, fires, floods, and/or other disasters do happen. When they do, the first question asked is if the place is insured. When the answer is ‘No’, the second question is ‘Why Not?’ Insurance will give you protection and peace of mind. You might want to negotiate on the premium though – the premium looks a little high.


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