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Possessions cover with car insurance

With over 200,000 incidents of theft from a vehicle reported to police from April 2021-March 2022 in England and Wales, you need to know if your personal possessions will be covered by your insurance if your car is broken into. 

With over 200,000 incidents of theft from a vehicle reported to police from April 2021-March 2022 in England and Wales, you need to know if your personal possessions will be covered by your insurance if your car is broken into. 

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
5 OCTOBER 2022
4 min read
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Is cover for personal possessions included in my car insurance?

It depends on your level of cover. Comprehensive car insurance policies will typically include some level of personal possessions cover, but it doesn’t usually come as standard on third party and third party, fire and theft policies.

How much could I claim for personal possessions on my car insurance?

There’s usually a cap on personal possessions cover. The maximum amount you can claim depends on the policy you’ve taken out. It might be possible to increase the amount you’re covered for, but this will cost more.

There’s usually also a maximum amount you can claim for one single item, so if you travel regularly with an expensive laptop or phone, or expensive sporting equipment like your golf clubs, make sure their full value is covered.  

It’s worth bearing in mind that your belongings and gadgets may be covered outside your home under your home insurance personal possessions cover and the cover limits may be higher. It’s worth checking before you compare car insurance quotes to avoid doubling up on cover.

Are there any other restrictions on cover for my personal possessions?

Your insurance provider might set a cover limit based on the value of your car. Known as the percentage value clause, it could lower the limit for a claim. 

For example, if personal possessions cover was capped at £2,000 and your possessions were covered up to 10% of the value of your car, you could only claim for £1,000 worth of possessions in a vehicle worth £10,000. 

What’s excluded from personal possessions cover?

All policies vary but some insurance providers exclude certain items, for example cash, credit or debit cards. If you use your car for business purposes and it contains stock, samples or tools, then these items might not be covered either.

It’s important to read your policy document to check what you’re covered for, especially if you’re driving around with expensive kit. 

What can invalidate my personal possessions cover?

Many policies will state that your belongings need to be ‘in a locked or concealed compartment’, so in the glovebox or, ideally, locked in the boot of your car. If your possessions are in full view – say, you’ve left your purse or wallet on a seat – chances are, your insurance provider won’t pay out. 

Also, be careful to lock your car. Shockingly, between April 2019 and March 2020, in almost half of the incidents of theft from vehicles in England and Wales, the thieves gained access through an unlocked door. Leaving your keys in the car or leaving your car unlocked will almost certainly invalidate any claim. Your insurance is unlikely to pay out if there are no signs of a forced entry.  

Will I need to provide receipts when I’m making a claim?

Insurance providers usually ask for proof of purchase to check that you owned the items that you’re claiming for.

To make the process as smooth as possible, you should keep receipts and take photos of any possessions that you regularly keep in your car.

You may also need to provide a crime reference number, which you can get from the police if you’re reporting a theft. 

How much does personal possessions cover cost?

Some level of personal possessions cover usually comes as standard on most comprehensive car insurance policies.  

If insuring your personal possessions in your vehicle is important to you, then it definitely pays to compare car insurance as this is a great way of finding the right cover for your circumstances at a price you can afford. 

Do I need personal possessions cover?

If you play golf at the weekend but leave your clubs in the boot all week, for example, or you leave your laptop in the car while you nip into a service station then, yes, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re covered.

And think about any technology or gadgets in your car that aren’t part of the original vehicle. If you’ve upgraded your stereo or put in a sat nav, check your policy or call your insurance provider to make sure you’re covered for them. While factory-fitted technology is usually covered as standard, anything fitted retrospectively might not be included. 

What should I do if my car contents are stolen?

There are two options, depending on when you discover the theft:

  1. If you’ve caught someone trying to steal your car or its contents, dial 999 and speak to the police. Personal safety is the most important thing, so don't put yourself at risk or in harm's way. The police will give you a crime reference number, which you’ll need when you contact your insurance provider. 
  2. If there’s no immediate emergency but your car’s been damaged and the contents stolen, contact the police on the non-emergency number 101. 

Once you’ve spoken to the police, you’ll need to inform your insurance provider within your policy’s stated time limit if you want to make a claim.  

How can I protect my possessions when they’re in my car?

It can take seconds for a thief to break into a car. Of course, the best way to protect your belongings is to lock your car whenever you leave it, but think about taking a few other simple precautions: 

  • Keep your car keys out of sight. 
  • If you have a keyless fob, make sure it’s out of range of your car when not in use. 
  • Add a secondary security device to your car, like an immobiliser.
  • Don’t leave valuables – including cash, your phone, purse or wallet – in sight. 
  • Clear any belongings out of your car at night, so it’s less attractive to potential thieves. 
  • Secure your belongings in the boot or glove box, and don’t forget to lock them.  
  • Keep your garage secure. 

Frequently asked questions

When is my car mostly likely to get broken into?

According to data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics), from April 2019 to March 2020, almost three-quarters of all theft from vehicles reported in England and Wales happened during the week and over 80% took place in the evening or at night.

That shows the importance of finding a secure place to park your car overnight. Not only will it lower your chance of having your car broken into, but it could also help lower your car insurance premiums.

Where is my car most likely to be broken into?

According to ONS data on police-reported incidents from April 2009 to March 2020, most of the theft from vehicles in England and Wales happens around our homes, from nearby parking on the street, or from nearby garages or car parks that are not immediately connected to your home.

What are the most common items stolen from cars and other vehicles?

Some of the most common items stolen from inside vehicles in England and Wales include valuables such as jewellery, handbags, purses or wallets containing cash and credit cards, briefcases containing documents, shopping bags and clothes.

Other commonly stolen items include exterior fittings (like hub caps, wheel trims and number plates), electronic equipment such as computers, gadgets and sat navs, and tools.

Will possessions cover my belongings for damage?

If your car insurance includes possession cover, it will typically cover theft from the vehicle (where there is sign of forced entry) and fire damage. In some cases, possessions cover may also cover belongings that are damaged in a car accident, or by flooding or vandalism. Check the terms of any policy before you buy to check what’s covered and what’s excluded.

Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate

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