Calculate the value of your contents
Not sure how much contents insurance you need? Our handy guide will help you to work it out…
Not sure how much contents insurance to take out? Our handy guide will help you work out how much you need…
When you take out home insurance, you’ll need to tell your insurer how much your home contents are worth.
It's important to get this right, as setting the 'sum insured' – the amount your contents insurance would pay out if you had to claim for everything you own – too low could leave you out of pocket if you have to make a claim and over-estimating the value of your belongings will mean paying more than you need for home contents cover.
How much contents insurance do I need?
Not many of us own great works of art or antique jewellery, but it's surprising how quickly the value of our belongings can add up, especially when you include gadgets such as laptops and iPads.
The aim is to set the ‘sum insured’ high enough to replace everything in your home, from your curtains to your smartphone.
This may sound unlikely, but it can happen in some circumstances, for example if your home is burned to the ground.
And even if you only need to claim for some items – for example because they were stolen – being underinsured may still mean you get less than they are worth due to the 'average' clause tucked away in the small print on many policies.
Say you've only got half the insurance you need to cover all your possessions. In the event of a claim, your insurer could invoke the ‘average’ clause to reduce the payout by the same 50%.
That’s why it’s so important to make an accurate estimate of the total value of your home contents.
How should I estimate the value of my home contents?
The first step is to go from room to room making a list of all the possessions you would want to replace should you need to make an insurance claim, for example due to a flood or a fire.
We’ve included a list of all the items you should include on this list below.
You then need to work out how much it would cost to replace every single item on the list with a new one.
You can use receipts to do this, but you’ll need to adjust these to account for any price increases since the time of purchase.
Another option is simply to look up how much it would cost you to buy the same item – or something similar – online.
If you have valuables such as jewellery or antiques, you’ll also need to get up-to-date valuations to add to your total.
Then all you need to do is add up the cost of replacing everything, and you have your home contents estimate.
What should I include in my home contents estimate?
Your home contents estimate should include everything in your home, except the permanent fixtures and fittings – such as kitchen units and fitted wardrobes – that are covered by your buildings insurance.
Items that should be on your list therefore include:
Freestanding furniture, such as cabinets and sofas
Curtains and carpets
Art, antiques, and collectibles
Electronics, such as your laptop and TV
Portable cooking equipment, such as microwaves and toasters
Fridges and freezers (including their contents)
Food stored in cupboards
Kitchenware, such as pans and cutlery
Freestanding appliances (washing machines etc.)
Beds and bed linen
Books and toys
Clothes and shoes
Watches and jewellery
Cosmetics and toiletries
Garden furniture and barbecues
Shed/garage contents, such as tools and bikes
What about high-value items?
Most contents insurance policies set a maximum amount that you can claim for any single possession unless it is named on the policy as a high-value item.
If you own items – such as paintings, designer handbags or rings – worth more than say £1,500 or £2,000, you’ll therefore need to tell your insurer about them to be covered.
In some circumstances, you may even need to take out specialist insurance for your valuables.
Either way, to get insurance, you’ll need to have a good idea of the current worth of the items in question and may also be required to require provide proof of purchase and/or value.
You can do this by getting an expert valuation, for example via the Jewellery Valuers Association.
If the item is likely to increase in value, say because gold prices rise, it’s also a good idea to get it valued again every few years to make sure you have enough insurance.
Otherwise, you’ll only be covered for its declared value, which could mean losing out on a significant amount of money should it be damaged or stolen.
Is it worth taking out personal possessions cover?
Contents insurance is designed to protect the belongings kept in your home.
Some policies also offer cover for items you take outside the home, such as watches and laptops, but in many cases, you’ll have to add personal possessions insurance to your policy to be covered should your handbag or mobile phone be lost or stolen when you’re out and about.
If you prefer, you can also take out standalone personal possessions insurance with another insurer.