Contents insurance – protecting your possessions

Spread over time, the outlay for filling your home with furnishings, trinkets, the latest gadgets and gizmos may appear manageable. But if you had to replace every item in one hit, what would the cost be to you? Walk around each room, including your loft, garage, cellar and shed and do a rough calculation. Add in clothes, DVDs, CDs, electrical items, not to mention jewellery, antiques and furniture, and you’re probably talking many thousands of pounds

Contents insurance is a cost efficient way to restore some degree of normality if your house burnt down tomorrow, was broken into and items stolen or vandalised, or flash floods washed away your prized possessions.

Think current value, not what you paid

If, like most people, you simply renew your contents insurance annually, you could be in for a shock. The price you paid three years ago for a flat screen TV, or to re-decorate a bedroom, could have jumped significantly in real cost. Your sum-insured today, needs to reflect the current cost of replacing all your items.

Even more important, luxury goods or high value items purchased as maybe a future investment should be listed separately. We would advise obtaining professional valuations of rare antiques, including furniture, or works of art, every two to three years. 

Types of contents insurance

There are two main types of contents policies available, which affect how claims are processed:

‘New for Old’

Most insurers today provide ‘new for old’ replacement cover, which means providing your items were well maintained, they will replace your loss with a brand new item. Clothing and linen that was over five years old may incur wear and tear deductions. With standard items, insurers can arrange replacement deliveries through their network of suppliers within days. Some insurers provide the option to upgrade specific items. You simply pay the difference in value.

Indemnity ‘wear-and-tear’ policies

The cheaper option of the two is the indemnity policy. Premiums tend to be lower as insurance companies take into account the amount of wear and tear when paying your claim. So, if your five year old three piece suite was ruined by leaking water, the pay-out would reflect the age of the suite.

What are you covered against?

Contents insurance will generally cover the same situations and incidents featured on our Buildings insurance page. Extra features or add-on extras may include:

· Lock replacements if your keys are stolen.
· Automatic increases in cover around Christmas or wedding gifts.
· Accidental damage or loss of items that you frequently take out of the home, for instance cameras or sporting equipment.
· Student cover for household items and personal effects.
· Liability cover if you accidentally injure or cause damage to another property.

Discounts may be available if you:

· fall within a specific age group;
· have security fittings at every point of entry;
· have a claims free history;
· combine your contents and buildings insurance

Things to watch out for

If you work from home, your contents insurance may cover some losses, but limits could be applied. It is worth checking whether you need individual insurance or if your provider can extend cover.

If you are letting or sub-letting your property, remember to tell your insurer. Failing to do so could result in your policy being cancelled. Typically, insurers won’t pay out a theft claim unless there’s evidence of forced entry.

For Buildings and Contents insurance we offer products from a selected panel of providers.