Do I have the right amount of contents insurance?

Home contents insurance covers the items you own against damage or theft while they’re in your home and sometimes when you’re out and about too. Here’s how to work out how much cover you need.

What is contents insurance?

Home contents insurance can protect your possessions against loss or damage due to a variety of incidents, such as theft, fire, storms, water leaks and subsidence. Your contents typically includes anything within your home that isn’t structural or permanently fixed. So, imagine you popped off the roof, flipped your house upside down and shook it – everything that falls out is generally what’s covered by your contents insurance. That includes your cooker, TV and furniture, right through to your jewellery, smartphone, clothes and even your money (a limited amount, usually around £500). An exception to this is that your carpet and curtains are usually regarded as contents too.

It’s worth noting that many insurance providers now offer a new for old policy, where items that are lost or damaged will be replaced based on their current market value. Even if the exact item can no longer be bought, you’ll be given a sufficient payout to buy a brand-new item that’s of the same quality.

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How much contents insurance cover do I need?

To make sure you have the right amount of cover, you’ll need to give your insurance provider an estimate of how much your possessions are worth. And that means a total value of all your possessions, not just the more valuable items.

The best way to estimate the value of your home contents is to move from room to room in your house, listing everything you’d consider a possession. For example:

  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Carpets
  • Kitchenware
  • Tech gadgets
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Jewellery
  • Garden furniture

You don’t need to include any fixtures and fittings – the walls, windows and roofs of your property, or fitted wardrobes, the kitchen and bathroom suites – as these are covered under a buildings insurance policy. But remember to include curtains and carpets, as these are typically covered by your contents insurance.

Once you’ve made your list, you’ll need to calculate the value of each item you’ve listed, then add up the total. Try to be as accurate as possible when you work out the total value. If you overestimate, then you could end up taking out more insurance than you need (and paying a higher premium). If you underestimate, you could find yourself underinsured. That could mean any payout you receive should you make a claim might not cover the full amount of your loss.

You’ll find more detailed information on valuing your home contents in our guide How to estimate the value of your home contents.

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Are my valuables covered by my contents insurance?

Most contents policies will have a maximum limit that any single item can be worth before you need to specify it – or list it separately – on your policy. This is known as the single article limit. Always check what that limit is on your policy (it’s often set at £1,500, but could be lower or higher depending on the provider) and make sure you detail anything that exceeds it. Any valuable items that you do specify will be insured up to their full value. You may need a receipt or a valuation certificate for these items should you need to make a claim – check with your insurance provider.

In addition, you’ll probably be asked the value all the ‘valuables’ in your home that are worth less than the single article limit. Valuables often have a unique definition in a home insurance policy but typically include smaller high-value items, such as tech gadgets and jewellery, which are more easily stolen and therefore classified as high risk. For example, while an £800 sofa isn’t considered high risk in the eyes of an insurance provider, an £800 laptop is likely to be.

Do I need extra cover for my contents?

Although not always included in contents insurance, the following levels of cover are usually available as optional add-ons – for an additional cost.

Accidental damage - There are often two levels of accidental damage available. The basic level of accidental damage usually covers damage to audio visual equipment, such as your TV, games console or PC. If you opt for full accidental damage cover, you’ll also be protected for accidents to other contents, such as spilling wine on your sofa.

Personal possessions outside the home - This covers your personal belongings should you lose them or they’re stolen while you’re out and about. Typically, personal possessions insurance while outside of the home will cover your phone, watch, laptop, wallet or purse, jewellery and camera.

As contents insurance policies vary between home insurance providers, you should always check the level of cover offered by yours before you consider adding extra cover.

What’s not covered by contents insurance?

The following aren’t usually covered by contents insurance:

  • General wear and tear, maintenance, faulty workmanship, mechanical or electrical breakdown.
  • Damage caused by pets.

Compare contents insurance

Shopping around for home insurance needn’t be a headache. At comparethemarket.com, we compare contents insurance policies from a range of providers to help you find the right policy for you at a price that suits your pocket. Start a quote now to see how much you could save.

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