Contents insurance can cover the cost of replacing your belongings if they’re damaged because of certain events. We find out how it works and what you can claim for, so that you don’t find yourself out of pocket should the unexpected happen.
Contents insurance covers your belongings at home including your furniture, clothes, jewellery and even kitchen utensils. The simplest way to think of it, is that policies generally cover everything you’d take with you when you move.
Individual policies will differ by insurer, but they’ll usually pay out if your things are damaged because of events like a fire, flood, storm, theft and vandalism.
When you buy a policy, you’ll usually be able to add extras too, for instance:
No, contents policies only cover your belongings. The physical structure of your home (walls, floors, ceilings and pipes) is covered by buildings insurance. Buildings insurance also covers permanent fixtures like fitted kitchens and bathrooms.
You can buy buildings and contents cover separately or as a combined home insurance policy.
Personal possessions is the insurance term for the items you typically carry around with you when you’re out and about. For instance, your phone, tablet or laptop, wedding or engagement ring and wallet or purse. While these items are in your home, they’re typically covered against theft and damage as part and parcel of the contents policy; but that might not be the case if you take them out.
Some contents insurance policies do automatically cover personal possessions that you take with you outside your home, but others don’t, and you might have to pay extra for it.
Policies should clearly set out what they do and don’t cover so it’s always worth checking the small print. That said, you typically won’t be covered for things like wear and tear, or damage caused by pets.
The amount of cover you need (the ‘sum insured’) needs to be enough to replace all your things should they be destroyed. As overly dramatic as that sounds, events like a fire can be devastating and insurance is there to save you from covering the entire cost yourself.
The most accurate way to work out what you might need is to go through your home, room by room, noting down the cost of each item. Don’t forget to include all the things we often take for granted like rugs, pictures and accessories.
If you don’t want to go through every room clipboard in hand, you can ask your insurer for help. They’ll use something called the ‘bedroom-rated’ formula to work out a suitable sum insured based on the number of rooms in your home. This will usually give you a more than adequate figure to cover the cost of your belongings.
If you want to be more cautious, you can also ask for a contents policy with an unlimited sum insured. These policies are exactly as they sound so you don’t have to worry about working out the value of your things. It’s worth bearing in mind that choosing policies that use the bedroom-rated formula, or that have an unlimited sum insured, can mean you end up paying more than you need.
This is another phrase you’ll usually find tucked away in your policy’s terms and conditions. The single item limit (also called the single article limit) is the maximum amount of money you can claim for any one item.
The limit varies by insurer but it tends to be around the £1,500 mark. It might sound like a lot but if you’ve got a pricy engagement ring, antiques or even just a fancy TV, check that the limit will be enough to replace your most expensive possession. If it isn’t, you can ask to increase it, or you may have to insure that item separately.
Cost will depend on how much cover you want – the higher the sum insured, the more you can expect to pay. Your premium will also reflect what the risk of you making a claim is based on where you live, and whether or not you’ve made any recent claims.
No, you don’t need contents insurance by law, so it’s entirely up to you whether or not you buy a policy. Don’t forget though, if you don’t have cover in place, it’s down to you to foot the bill for replacing all your belongings if they’re destroyed.
It’s up to you whether you want contents insurance for your belongings, just remember that your landlord’s policies will only cover what they provide. So, your landlord should be responsible for buildings insurance and any contents that come with the property – like furniture or electrical items. But if something happens and your possessions are damaged, you won’t be able to claim on your landlord’s policy.
No one can really make you buy contents cover but it can be a sensible precaution against the unexpected. Policies don’t have to break the bank either and comparing quotes can help you get the right policy at the right price.
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