Are your possessions covered when camping?

The festival season is upon us once more and if you’re heading off to one this summer then insuring your possessions is probably the last thing on your mind as you make sure you’ve got the tickets, the tent and enough beer to flood the main stage.

Tents pitched in a forest

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However, we’ve all heard the horror stories of thieves taking entire tents full of contents, using the tent itself as a sort of ‘swag bag’, and recent research from Aviva reveals that 12% of festival goers have had their belongings stolen while at a festival.

Hannah-Mercedes Skenfield, home insurance manager at MoneySupermarket, said: “Festival tents are left unattended for hours on end with little or no way to secure your tent from an intruder looking to steal, so I would advise keeping any expensive items with you at all times. If you are unfortunate enough to find you have items missing, spending a little extra on insurance to ensure you’re protected is a small price to pay to avoid the inconvenience and upset theft can cause.”

Even if a weekend risking trench foot, food poisoning and tinnitus – standard festival hazards in my experience – isn’t your thing, you still shouldn’t be complacent. The Aviva study also showed that 12% of people have reported losing or having their possessions stolen at other outdoor events, including sporting occasions.

So would you be covered for such losses by your home contents insurance, or would you have to take out a separate policy? Let’s take a look…

Can’t stand losing you…

Given the fact that many will take smartphones, MP3 players, cameras and maybe even tablet PCs along to festivals, it’s estimated that the average value of a person’s possessions at a festival is over £1,200.

So if you were to lose any items or have them stolen, you stand to be significantly out of pocket if you’re not fully insured.

And it appears that insuring ourselves against loss, theft or damage to our mobile phones and other gadgets should be something we prioritise. A recent survey by Virgin Media found that 70% of the people polled admitted to breaking or losing up to seven phones in the past decade.

However, 79% of people also felt that mobile phone and gadget insurance was a waste of money, and they may have a point as you could well be covered, or could get cover yourself, under the terms of your home and contents insurance.

Imagine no possessions…

There is a chance that you’re already covered under the terms of your home insurance policy for items that are damaged, lost or stolen when away from the home. But even if you’re not, a recent study from MoneySupermarket has found that cover can be tagged on for a small additional cost.

For example, a home contents insurance policy with £5,000 worth of possessions cover costs £88.16 and should provide adequate cover for the loss or damage of gadgets or other belongings while outside the home. However, you should always check the small print of any policy as some insurers will not cover camping equipment as standard.

If you’re travelling abroad to take in a festival then you also need to make sure that you also have adequate travel insurance in place to cover you against lost or stolen baggage, flight cancellation and medical expenses. Cover and is available for as little as £5.65 from providers such as Best Price.

You should also make sure that you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as this lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It covers you for any treatment you may need, including any pre-existing medical conditions, to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return date.

An EHIC card will also cover for any routine maternity care provided that you are not going abroad to give birth. But don’t think of the card as a replacement for travel insurance – you’ll still need a policy for the broad variety of risks you face and you may even find that your EHIC card is not enough in countries such as Greece and Spain where shortages have been brought about by the failing economies.

You know you make me breakdown…

One other area of protection you should consider is breakdown cover, as you don’t want to be one of the ones stranded by the roadside as other festival-goers race past you to get the best pitches.

If you do take out breakdown cover then make sure that it includes onward travel to ensure that you and any passengers are taken on to your preferred destination, in this case the festival, and are not left stranded at a local garage.

Annual breakdown cover can be taken out for as little as £24.90 with and you can compare quotes from a range of breakdown recovery firms using MoneySupermarket’s comparison tool.

Enjoy yourself – MoneySupermarket’s top tips for festival fun

Once you have the necessary cover in place you can at least travel with the peace of mind, knowing that, should anything go wrong, at least you won’t be out of pocket.

However, the plan should be to make sure nothing goes wrong and that you enjoy your weekend away without any dramas, so here are MoneySupermarket’s top tips for festival fun…

  • Don’t take expensive clothing or jewellery with you as you simply won’t need them and just risk ruining or losing them. Consider taking an old mobile phone for keeping in touch with people and a disposable camera for taking pics.
  • If anything is lost or stolen, report it to the police within 24 hours and get a crime number. Some insurers will not pay out if you do not report an item as lost or stolen within 24 hours.
  • It’s worth noting that ‘single article’ limits – the maximum amount an insurer will pay out on a single item – is usually around £1,000 to £1,500.
  • Keep your most valuable possessions with you at all times and never leave them unattended in tents or even cars. It may be a good idea to take a small backpack with a lock containing your valuables to keep with you at all times.
  • Only take as much money as you’ll need and try to keep it in a few different places. Separate your cash from any credit or debit cards you take.
  • Keep your valuables in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night.
  • Stick together in groups to make yourself less likely to be targeted by muggers or thieves.
  • Don’t pitch your tent at the bottom of a hill as rainwater (and much worse) could stream into your tent. This has already been a problem at this year’s Isle of Wight festival and more heavy rain and possible flooding is forecast for the UK over the coming weeks.
  • It’s also worth looking into whether your credit card offers cover against accommodation, travel or even festival cancellation.

Above all else, though, enjoy yourself!

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.


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