Contents insurance can be bought separately, or as part of a combined policy which also includes cover for the structure of your home – but you only need buildings insurance if you own the property.
How does contents insurance work?
There are two main types of contents insurance, broadly speaking:
New for old / As new
New for old, also known as 'as new', policies, will pay out for the full cost of repair of a damaged item, or for the equivalent new item. It is the more expensive type of cover because you can get back the full value of the items you claim for.
An indemnity insurance policy pays you what the item you claim for is worth now, not what you paid for it. This type of policy tends to be cheaper because the pay-out reflects depreciation or wear and tear, so you might not get back the full value, just the cost of replacing an item of the same age or condition as yours.
What does contents insurance cover?
Home contents insurance policies will cover pretty much everything you own, except the actual building itself. In fact, an item is covered if it’s something you would take with you when moving home, including carpets and light fittings. Items commonly listed under a contents policy include:
Contents insurance can protect your mobile phones, laptops, cameras and other gadgets in your home, which can normally be expensive to replace. But bear in mind there is often a £1,000 limit on individual items so if you have something of more value, you may need to list it separately
Contents insurance policies can protect some of your most important electrical items, such as televisions, desktops, and games consoles, again usually up to a limit of £1,000 for individual items
Money and financial documents
Money as well as financial documents like bonds and deeds will be covered as long as they are stored securely in your home. It’s worth looking into getting secure digital copies of crucial documents so you have a back-up in case the originals are stolen or damaged.
Everything from Chesterfield sofas,wingback armchairs or cherished family tables are covered when you take out a contents insurance policy
If your wardrobe is damaged in a major event like a fire or flood, your policy will help cover the cost of replacing your clothes, although if you have valuable designer gear worth more than £1,000 you may need to list it seperately.
All your kitchen appliances are covered by your contents insurance policy. Items like your fridge, cooker, washing machine are all protected, as well as smaller appliances such as juicers or coffee-makers.
Most contents insurance policies have limits on how much you can claim for each item, but this can be avoided if you mention your most valuable items separately. This includes things like:
Bikes, computers, high-end hi-fis, jewellery, art collections, designer bags
What optional extras can I add to my contents insurance policy?
Contents insurance protects your belongings from most major threats, but not everything will be covered as standard. If you want extra peace of mind, you should think about adding the following:
This is for when you accidentally break a possession, for instance knocking over an ornament while doing the dusting. It’s easily done, but could be long lamented if you don’t have the right cover for accidents.
This will cover the costs if you need any assistance or repairs because of a domestic emergency, such as a burst pipe or broken boiler. Either can be a mightmare that you want sorted out as soon as possible.
If your children are away at university and they take their laptop or phone with them, you may be able to arrange affordable cover for their belongings.
Extra cover for valuables
You can add extra insurance cover for any valuable items you own if their value exceeds the limits of your policy. That usually means individual items worth £1,000 or more.
Legal expenses insurance can help you cover the cost of certain legal fees, such as boundary disputes and personal injury claims which can arise when you least expect it.
When you look for a contents insurance policy, it’s important calculate how much your possessions are worth. You must work it out accurately because if you don’t, you could be counting the cost if you need to claim and have underestimated how much your possessions are worth. Alternatively if you overestimate, your premiums will be higher than they need to be. Here’s what you need to do:
Make a list
Be systematic: go from room to room in your home and add up the rough values of everything you own
New for old
Most contents policies are ‘new-for-old’, meaning they work out how much it costs to replace your possessions with new ones
Note your valuables
Make a special note of every item worth more than about £300. Your insurer will need to know about each of these items separately
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Compare cheap home contents insurance quotes
Home contents insurance helps protect your possessions from loss, damage and theft. Whatever cover you’re looking for, the easiest way to find the best policy is by comparing contents insurance quotes online. You can compare policies in one simple search on MoneySuperMarket.
It doesn’t take long
Estimate the worth of your home contents and any particularly high-value possessions, and quickly compare contents insurance quotes
We’ll search for savings
We’ll show you which contents insurance is the cheapest along with claims experience, a quality score, cover level and more
Once you’ve found a contents-only insurance policy you like, you can call or click through to apply directly with the insurer
Contents insurance policies tend not to be terribly expensive, but there are steps you can take to get a cheaper quote:
Premiums vary between insurance companies, so get a range of quotes from different insurers to see how much you could save. Be clear about the level of cover you need to get accurate quotes and once you’ve found the best deal, don't forget to shop around when it's time to renew insurance
Cut out the frills
If you don’t need any added insurance extras like accidental damage cover, you could cut your premium by opting for basic cover only. But bear in mind that will limit the amount you can claim for
Think about security
High-quality locks, burglar alarms, smoke alarms and joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can all reduce your premiums. The safer your home, the less likely you may need to claim on an insurance policy. But check with insurers before installing expensive security that may not help reduce costs
Raise the excess
Most insurance policies include an 'excess', which is the amount you pay towards any claim. If you agree to increase the excess you will usually pay a lower premium. But bear in mind that you will need to stump up the amount of the excess if you need to claim
Insurers usually reward people who have not made any claims in the past with a cheaper policy premium. You may even be able to protect your no-claims discount after you’ve built it up
Our expert says
Contents insurance is the perfect way to protect your possessions, but you need to be wary when you buy it. Work to the value of your belongings and be as accurate as possible so that if you need to claim, you have the cover you need.. Make sure you declare your valuables, too.
The average cost of a contents-only insurance policy was £86 in January 2023, according to MoneySuperMarket data. The cost of contents insurance is affected by your location, the value of your home and contents, risk (including flood and burglary) and other factors.
According to MoneySuperMarket data collected during January 2023
Contents insurance does cover theft as standard, but most policies will cost more if you also want theft cover for your belongings when you take them out of the house. Likewise, high-value items may need to be itemised on your policy to ensure they are covered.
Contents insurance does cover mobile phones, but if your phone is worth more than a certain value, often £1,000, you’ll have to inform your insurer that you need it covered specifically.
For electronic items you use a lot, including those you carry with you when you leave the house, you might want to consider taking out a more specialised gadget policy.
You can pay more to cover more expensive items and add additional cover. The most common additions include:
Accidental damage cover: if you accidentally break a possession, for instance knocking over a valuable ornament while doing the dusting, it will pay out.
Out-of-home cover: you’ll need to name any items you want covered to protect themif something happens when you’re out.
Extra cover for valuables: if you have valuables, you may need extra contents insurance if their value exceeds the limit of your policy. For example, if the limit was £1,500 and a £2,000 ring was stolen, the policy would still only pay £1,500.
Home emergency cover: if you need any assistance or repairs because of a domestic emergency, such as a boiler breakdown or pipes bursting, this will pay out.
Away-from-home cover: if your children are away at university, and they take their laptop or phone with them, you may be able to cover their items too.
It does, but if your bike is worth more than the single-item limit listed in the small print, often around £1,000, you will need to inform your insurer that you own it. Bikes aren’t usually covered by contents insurance when you have them outside the home. You need a separate out-of-home policy add-on for that.
The single-item limit is the most an insurer will pay to replace any individual items that hasn’t been specifically listed. The limit will depend on your provider and the policy, b ut is often around £1,000. If you need to cover anything worth more than that, you shoudl mention it as a high-risk item.
As well as there being a cover limit for your items, there are other exclusions that may affect your claims. For example, some providers also have a maximum claim limit for all valuable items. So, if several items are stolen or damaged at once, you may not be able to reclaim their full value.
High-risk items are your most valuable possessions, the ones which cost the most to replace. You need to let your insurer know about each one.
Most insurers let you do this, but you’ll need to get in touch with them if you’ve made a major purchase. If you claim without telling them, then it may prove hard to claim the money back for any items.
You might do, especially for high-value items. It’s a good idea to keep the receipts for everything you have when you take out insurance.
If you work from home a lot, your home office equipment is not covered as standard by home insurance policies. You may need to take out separate business insurance.
Some insurance policies will cover the contents of your garden and outbuildings - like a garage or shed - as standard. However, many won’t, and which means you may have to pay extra. Make sure you check before you buy a policy.
Your contents are not normally insured as standard by contents insurance when you take them out of your home. However, you can buy an out-of-home insurance policy add-on, which will protect you from theft and damage when you’re out and about.
How much is contents insurance?
Does contents insurance cover theft?
Does contents insurance cover mobile phones?
Do I need additional contents cover?
Does contents insurance cover bicycles?
What’s a single item limit?
What’s a high-risk item?
Can I add new items to my existing home contents policy?
Do I need proof of ownership for all my possessions?
Is my home office equipment covered by contents insurance?
Are my garden and garage covered by contents insurance?
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