Mindful Millennials: contents insurance in the UK

There are two types of home insurance – contents insurance, which protects your belongings, and buildings insurance, which protects the property itself.

Contents insurance is a good way to protect your belongings in the event of theft, as well as if they are damaged in a fire or flood at home, and is likely the best cover option if you don’t own your property.

If you don’t own your property it’s unlikely you’ll need buildings insurance as your landlord should have cover, but it’s best to still take out contents insurance.

As a demographic, the millennial generation – those aged between 22 and 38 – are less likely to own their home, and in many cases share their property with people they don’t know, be it in rented or student accommodation.

We wanted to understand if young people who rent insure their contents in the same way homeowners might.

In order to find out how millennials keep their contents safe, we’ve analysed their habits when it comes to taking out insurance, the items they commonly insure and what steps they take to keep their home secure.

See the results below to find out how these trends differ by location, the cities where young people take out sufficient insurance, how age affects whether you have a policy, and what security measures millennials use.

The relationship between insurance and burglary

Although contents insurance covers more than just theft, analysis of the uptake of cover in different cities against the local burglary rate can indicate whether people are taking out the right amount of cover based on the level of risk. 

Our data shows the rate of uptake in contents insurance policies for millennials by UK city, compared to where the burglary rate is highest. This gives us an idea of the policy/theft gap. Are young people even taking out contents insurance - and where is the risk of theft more pronounced?

The map below shows where there is the greatest difference between contents insurance uptake among millennials and the number of burglaries that occur across the UK. The greater the insurance vs theft gap, the more people that may be at risk of financial loss in those locations as a result of lack of protection in the event of a burglary. 

The insurance vs theft gap by city

City Policies per Total Millennials Policies Score Burglary Rate Burglary Score Policy/Burglary Gap Average Value of Claim
Swansea 68% 8.31 10.3 2.86 -5.45  £1,000.00
Newcastle upon Tyne 83% 10.00 14.0 4.60 -5.40  £1,500.00
Portsmouth 70% 8.59 11.8 3.55 -5.04  £1,400.00
Stoke-on-Trent 55% 6.81 9.0 2.23 -4.59  £1,000.00
Plymouth 40% 5.03 6.4 1.00 -4.03  £800.00
Nottingham 76% 9.21 18.0 6.48 -2.74  £1,900.00
Wakefield 43% 5.44 12.3 3.80 -1.64  £1,524.50
Northampton 67% 8.24 18.3 6.62 -1.61  £1,350.00
Milton Keynes 46% 5.77 14.5 4.82 -0.95  £1,619.50
Sunderland 16% 2.23 8.1 1.79 -0.44  £1,582.00
Leicester 62% 7.56 19.9 7.37 -0.19  £1,500.00
Liverpool 35% 4.49 14.1 4.65 0.17  £900.00
Kingston upon Hull 39% 4.90 16.1 5.59 0.69  £1,000.00
Sheffield 58% 7.13 21.8 8.26 1.13  £1,327.00
Southampton 46% 5.76 19.5 7.16 1.40  £1,000.00
Walsall 33% 4.23 18.9 6.88 2.65  £1,900.00
Brighton and Hove 12% 1.79 13.8 4.51 2.72  £999.00
Manchester 41% 5.12 22.6 8.61 3.49  £1,500.00
Wolverhampton 27% 3.58 19.4 7.11 3.53  £900.00
London 22% 3.00 18.7 6.79 3.78  £1,000.00
Colchester 9% 1.50 16.8 5.88 4.39  £2,004.74
Cardiff 16% 2.32 19.2 7.02 4.70  £1,200.00
Doncaster 16% 2.24 19.4 7.12 4.88  £1,000.00
Bristol 17% 2.35 20.4 7.59 5.25  £1,200.00
Dudley 5% 1.00 17.5 6.26 5.26  £1,150.00
Derby 17% 2.38 20.6 7.70 5.32  £1,400.00
Birmingham 10% 1.57 20.5 7.66 6.09  £1,000.00
Leeds 26% 3.49 25.5 10.00 6.51  £1,800.00
Coventry 15% 2.18 24.8 9.69 7.51  £1,200.00
Bradford 6% 1.07 23.7 9.13 8.06  £1,000.00

The data shows millennials living in Swansea appear to be the most responsive to the risk of theft across England and Wales, with a high level of insurance policies per capita against a comparatively low theft rate.

The highest claims for content insurance occur in Colchester (burglars take £2,004.74 worth of belongings on average, higher than anywhere else in the UK), but it is Bradford that appears to present the highest policy/theft gap, with the data showing a low number of policies being taken out by millennials against a high theft rate.

Items commonly insured

When taking out contents insurance it’s important to be aware of which items you should cover in your policy. It can be beneficial to cover as much as possible, but this can increase your premiums, so it’s worth considering what policy suits you best – and what items are most at risk – to get the best value for money.

The data [1] shows that while bicycles are among the most commonly insured items for young people - with 14.8% of policies protecting them according to our analysis – however they are one of the least commonly stolen items, taken in less than 1% of burglaries.

Jewellery and watches are other commonly well-protected items (21.2% of policies taken out cover jewellery and 7.7% cover watches) and in contrast to bicycles, these are common items for thieves to target as they are more likely to be found in the event of a burglary, making them a worthwhile item to cover.

Technology items are also a common choice for millennials to insure, with 24.8% insuring their laptops and notebooks against theft. That's a higher rate of cover than for any other item analysed, and a smart choice – these items are reported stolen in 31% of burglaries.

Interestingly the data shows the most highly valued items outlined in contents insurance policies are stamp collections, valued at an average of £4,500, while bicycles are the lowest, at £850.

Top ten most insured items

Home security measures

Taking appropriate security measures for your home could contribute to lower insurance premiums as well as reducing the chances of you having to make a claim – which in turn might give you a no-claims bonus on future policies.

Modern technology is popular with millennials protecting their homes: smart doorbells, sensors, and CCTV are all used by more 25-34 year olds than any other age group.

Double locks and door chains, however, are least used by this age group despite the fact that adding these physical security measures alongside digital ones is one of the best ways to make sure your home is protected.

The most popular security methods for people aged 25-34

Insurance by age group

The level of home cover required may differ as you get older, but it’s not just older individuals – who are more likely to have purchased a home and filled it with belongings – who need contents insurance.

Based on our research millennials appear mindful of protecting their belongings, with those aged 30-39 having the highest uptake rate of content insurance policies, and millennials as a group (20-39) having more contents or combined home and contents policies per person than those over the age of 65 or under 20.

Those aged 30-39 have the highest uptake rate of insurance

Millennials taking out insurance

An individual’s living situation can have a significant effect on whether those in the millennial generation will take out contents insurance or not – be it if they’re living on their own or they own the property.

It seems that millennials are more likely to take out insurance when living alone than in a shared property. What’s more, this demographic is even more likely to take out insurance if they live alone in a 1 bedroom property which they own – which is the cheapest insurance option at only £84.65 [1] based on MoneySuperMarket quotes.

A policy for a young person in rented accommodation, where that person wishes to insure their room only cost on average £123.99, this is significantly higher than if the person owns the property and lives alone.

This is possibly due to the fact it can be more difficult to get contents insurance if you live in a shared house. Not all insurers will cover contents in a house share and many policies will only cover items in a shared property if they are taken from your bedroom and if your bedroom door has a lock on it. 

It’s therefore well worth shopping around and comparing contents policies carefully. Premiums can vary considerably between insurers, and your existing insurer might not be the best option available when it's time to renew. 

If you don't need to insure more expensive items, you can reduce your premiums by choosing basic cover options.

Average annual cost of content insurance (20-39 year olds)

Tips for getting the most from your contents insurance

Contents insurance is there to help protect your belongings and make sure you are not left out of pocket – it shouldn’t be an expense you can’t afford. If the premiums are putting you off, here are some ways to cut your costs:

  1. Consider basic cover: while it can be sensible to have extra cover, many people may only need “basic cover”, which is a cheaper option. Read through potential policies carefully to make sure they cover only what you need
  2. Invest in security: as well as being great ways to protect your home, adding better locks, burglar alarms, and joining the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme can all reduce your premiums
  3. Pay annually: paying monthly may be more flexible, but paying your insurance on a yearly basis is cheaper as you won’t pay an additional charge
  4. Compare options: the best way to ensure you’re getting the best deal is to look at all of the options available. In one simple search on MoneySuperMarket, you can see all the possible contents insurance policies that could suit your cover and premium needs

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Sources & methodology

[1] MoneySuperMarket Home insurance enquiries 1/1/15 - 28/2/19


[2] MoneySuperMarket Home Insurance Data 1/1/17 - 31/12/2018


[3] Survey conducted in association with OnePoll 24/08/2018 - 31/08/2018 of 1000 UK Homeowners


[4] https://www.ons.gov.uk/


[5] https://www.ons.gov.uk/


[6] https://www.moneysupermarket.com/


[7] https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/census/


[8] https://www.ewingassociates.co.uk/the-cost-of-a-burglary/


Millennials have been considered to be those born between 1981 and 1996, and therefore aged 22 - 38 as of 04/04/19. Due to limited data breakdowns, this has been treated as ages 20-39 where finer data was not available.

Study does not incorporate Scotland or Northern Ireland due to unavailable comparable census data. Cities selected from largest established areas within England and Wales for which data is available.


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