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1 Updated October 2023
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Contents insurance is a type of home insurance that covers personal belongings and possessions in your house in the event of loss, damage, or theft.
Contents insurance only offers protection for items within your home. If you own your property, you will also need buildings insurance to cover the physical structure of your home. Each can be bought separately or as part of a combined home insurance policy.
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.
Some policies may offer 'replacement of sets' cover, where an item from a matching set (e.g. kitchen units or furniture sets) is replaced if damaged. This type of cover helps you replace the whole set if the individual item cannot be repaired or replaced
Contents insurance policies don't offer cover that adjusts with inflation, so you should review your policy regularly to ensure you have the correct amount of cover for the changing value of your belongings
Some items fall into a grey area. Items that can be easily removed without damage (e.g. carpets) are covered by contents insurance, while permanent fixtures (e.g. fitted wardrobes) are covered by buildings insurance
The amount of contents insurance you need will differ depending on what you own and which items you would like to insure. Insurers often use three methods to work out how much cover you need:
Bedroom rated - this is where the cover is calculated based on the number of rooms in your home
Sum insured - is the cover based on the estimate of the total value of the things you own
Unlimited cover - this covers everything up to an unlimited amount (there may be limits for particularly expensive belongings)
A good way of figuring out how much cover you need yourself is to calculate how much it would cost to replace all of the contents you would like to insure in your home.
This includes items you would like to take with you if you moved house. You can then find a policy offering your desired level of cover.
It's important to note that some combined policies do not offer the same level of buildings and contents cover. Some policies may offer unlimited buildings insurance, for example, but have a limit on contents insurance.
Remember to check the insurance provider's policy documents or the insurer's website to ensure you have the right level of cover.
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 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.
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 protects your possessions while you’re out and about, but you usually have to declare which items you want to cover, supplying your insurance company with details and values.
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.
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.
The average cost of a contents insurance policy is £94* but this can vary based on a few factors, including:
Your postcode determines how safe your area is and tells insurers if it close to water and therefore, a flood risk
Building type and size of your property
Your quote may vary depending on if you live in a flat, terraced, semi-detached, or detached house
How many people are living with you
Having a child, taking up a lodger, or someone move out can all affect the cost of your policy
The nature and number of claims you have previously made
If you have made a claim in the last five years, this could increase the cost of your contents insurance. This can also depend on if the claim was a result of an event such as a flood, or if it was your fault
Cost of contents insurance*
Purpose built flat (self contained)
Halls of residence
*Based on annual insurance policies taken out with MoneySuperMarket between July 2023 and September 2023
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
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
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
Many insurers charge extra if you pay by monthly direct debit. You’ll save money if you make a one-off, annual payment instead, if you can afford it
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
You already have buildings insurance, so a combined home insurance policy will protect your belongings too
Contents insurance will protect your own possessions, though you might want a specific renters’ insurance policy
Lodgers have a slightly different legal status than regular renters, but you can still get lodgers’ insurance
Because you live in halls or flats for part of the year, you need specialised contents insurance for students
People living in a flatshare need separate contents insurance policies for each member of the household
Buy-to-let owners need a different type of policy for properties they rent out called landlord contents insurance
Go around your home and make a list of all the contents, including items in areas such as your loft, garden, garage, and shed
If you have any jewellery, luxury clothing, or items such as electric bikes, which exceed the cost of £1,000, you will need to disclose this when you take out cover
Insurers will ask for your name, address, anyone who lives in the property with you, and when you are usually home
You will be asked about the type of property you live in, including details such as locks and alarms systems installed .
You can add additional cover to your contents insurance, including accidental damage, and away from home cover for specific items such as phones and laptops
You will also need to inform insurers of any previous claims made in the past five years
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.
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