In comparison just 6% of homeowners lack insurance.
The most common reason for renters skimping on home contents cover is affordability (44%), despite the average home contents policy costing just £2.44 per week.
Other renters think contents cover is unnecessary due to their lack of expensive belongings (29%), while 16% are simply happy to take the risk.
Anthony Lewis, head of insurance for The Co-operative Insurance, said: “This research uncovers a worrying insurance gap, amongst a growing proportion of the UK population.
“Prized possessions and home contents are worth protecting whether people own or rent their property, and our research suggests that many millions of people are taking a risk without any cover in place in the event of theft, or other perils such as flooding and fire.”
The average value of contents estimated by renters is £16,644, while for homeowners this doubles to £31,651.
The average theft claim for contents is £1,700, yet this rises to £11,000 in the event of a fire.
One in 10 (10%) renters have stopped insuring their home over the last five years, with nearly half doing so primarily to save money (47%).
Other factors include moving to an area with a lower crime rate (20%) moving from owning a home into rented accommodation (20%), and the loss of employment (19%).