Most renters skip home insurance

Most renters in Canada don't buy insurance to protect their belongings from disasters such as the fire that destroyed an apartment building in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood this week.

Most renters in Canada don't buy insurance to protect their belongings from disasters such as the fire that destroyed an apartment building in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood this week.

On Tuesday morning, the leaning, collapsing remnants of the building's interior walls still teetered atop a pile of debris on Glebe Avenue. Jumbled amid the wood, brick and drywall were the remains of most of the possessions owned by tenants of the 18-unit building.

According to Statistics Canada, fewer than half of renters spent money on tenants insurance in 2008. In contrast, 97 per cent of homeowners insured their properties that year.

Adam Gallero lost the apartment he had lived in for two years and everything inside it as a result of Monday's fire.

Home insurance spending in Canada 2008

 Households4.4 million (34%) 8.4 million (66%) 
 With insurance41.8 %  96.7%
 Avg. costs for those insured $309 $702

Source: Statistics Canada

"You know, as a young renter you don't think about those things," Gallero said. "But losing everything you have — losing your memories and your dreams — I know they're just material, but it's like losing your world. … It feels like you're starting over again and that's really hard."

Steve Dinning had just moved into a corner apartment in the Glebe building when it went up in flames Monday afternoon. That evening, he watched grimly, drinking coffee, as firefighters fought the blaze.

When asked if he had any insurance, he responded, "No, it was on my list of things to do."

Dennis Prouse, a spokesman for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said tenants aren't required to have insurance. However, they can purchase it for about $20 to $30 a month.

Statistics Canada says tenant households that bought insurance spent an average of $309 on it last year — less than half the amount spent by those who owned their homes.

According to Statistics Canada, 4.4 million households in Canada, or about 34 per cent, rent their homes.