Does my car insurance cover my car contents?

Does my car insurance cover my car contents?

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When we buy car insurance, how many of us think about whether the policy we’re taking out covers the car’s contents – the items we keep in the vehicle and carry with us when we travel?

It’s probably not top of our list of concerns. We’re naturally more worried about insuring the car itself in case of accident or theft, and we want cover for ourselves and our passengers.

Thanks to the rise in portable and wearable technology, however, we’re carrying more valuable items with us than ever before, including expensive smartphones and smart watches, laptops and other in-car entertainment equipment.

In 2018, 18% of stolen items were electrical equipment – this is a 50% increase since 2008, when only 12% of theft from vehicles included electrical items.

Other items stolen include jewellery, handbags, shopping, purses and wallets, clothes and documents. Thieves are also on the look-out for tools, which accounted for 8% of theft from vehicles. Glasses or sunglasses accounted for 6% of stolen items.

Parents with young children also carry valuable equipment such as prams, buggies and car seats worth hundreds of pounds each – and all these items could potentially not be covered to their full value by your car insurance.

Despite carrying valuables in our cars on a daily basis, two fifths (39%) of car drivers don’t know if the contents of their car would be covered by their insurer.

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Almost 1 in 8 people (12%) of people surveyed say they typically have over £500 worth of items with them in their car. This is potentially worrying – one insurance provider told us that they only provide £300 of cover for personal possessions, which means policyholders could find themselves deeply out of pocket if they are the victims of theft or their belongings are damaged in an accident.

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The most common item for people to have with them in their car is their smartphone, which can be worth up to £1,000 or even more, followed by handbags and then a satnav. A quarter (24%) of people say they’re likely to accidentally leave their smartphone in their cars while 10% say they leave their smartphones in their cars unattended on purpose. 

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Over a fifth of people surveyed (21%) have had their cars broken into once or twice, losing an average of £434 worth of items when they last had a break in. 

This highlights the importance of having the belongings you carry in your car covered by your insurance policy. 

Just under two thirds (64%) claimed the cost of the damaged/stolen items on their insurance, with 20% receiving a full pay-out. However, 15% only received a partial pay out, and 12% had their claim rejected, again showing the importance of checking your policy when taking out insurance to ensure you’re adequately covered and that the policy is right for you. 

Almost half (47%) of people surveyed use their cars for commuting, suggesting they use their cars regularly and could be carrying work equipment – for example, 7% of those surveyed said they carry laptops in their cars.

Half (50%) of people didn’t claim for their stolen or damaged items because their excess was too high. This is another important factor to consider when taking out your car insurance policy. 

You might decide your car insurance provides enough cover for the contents you usually have in your car. But if you keep valuable items such as golf clubs, laptops and buggies in your car. you could look into personal possessions cover to ensure your valuable items are fully protected. 

If you own expensive portable technology, you could also consider gadget cover to protect your belongings while you’re out and about.

Check your policy carefully when purchasing your car insurance, look at the level of personal possession cover included by the insurer and make sure the policy you choose is right for you. 

Check your excess to ensure you’re able to afford to make this payment, if you do need to make a claim. The excess on the contents section of your car insurance is likely to be less than the excess that applies to the main policy.

Check your home insurance – you may find you have cover for items outside the home. Remember that you can only make one claim for each item, so if you had cover under your home insurance and your car insurance, you could not claim on both policies.  

Sources

Consumer sentiment survey – sample based on 2003 UK adults – October 2019 

ONS – Vehicle related crime data – 2008- 2018 

ons.gov.uk

MSM Car Insurance provider data – 2019

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