Just 7% of private tenants have any financial protection cover, compared with 28% of those with a mortgage, according to Scottish Widows.
Private tenants are at greater overall risk as well, with 29% having no savings whatsoever and significantly less holding a pension, ISA, or other investment compared to those with a mortgage.
Tenants with any savings, potentially for a deposit, may have to rely on them to cover day-to-day living costs if unable to work through illness or disability.
In addition, lump sum savings are means tested for benefit applications and taken into account in what people receive in support.
Currently almost 8 million UK adults rent privately in the UK, a number expected to keep increasing.
Sciottish Widows noted that a mortgage is a traditional trigger point for buying protection, but that, with more people renting, this is being missed and people are not aware of perhaps how financially exposed they are.
Richard Jones, protection director at Scottish Widows said: "Those in private rented accommodation, more than any other group, have a real protection need and insurers must work hard to demonstrate that financial protection is about protecting their family life and home whether they own it or not."