Thinking about getting contents insurance, or not really sure what it is? Read on to find out what’s involved and whether you need it.
What is contents insurance?
Contents insurance is insurance cover to protect your personal belongings against damage or theft. It’s broadly part of home insurance, which has two elements: protecting the physical structure of your home with ‘buildings cover’ and all the removable things that are within it through ‘contents cover’.
If you own the house or flat that you live in, your mortgage lender will usually insist you have buildings insurance in place. But contents insurance isn’t compulsory, so it’s up to you whether to buy this kind of cover.
What does contents insurance cover?
Imagine for a moment that you’re a giant (bear with us, it’ll make sense in a minute). If you picked up your home, took the roof off and shook it upside down, the ‘contents’ would be all the things that would fall out.
So that means your furniture, clothes, curtains, photos, lamps and personal items. Things like your kitchen cabinets and bathroom suite are covered by buildings insurance, but carpets and curtains are seen as contents.
Some contents insurance policies even cover the contents of your fridge and freezer, while others may cover items outside your home, like jewellery, watches or phones and tablets when you’re out and about.
What are they insured against?
Contents cover protects your possessions from fire damage, floods and storms, natural disasters, vandalism or malicious damage and theft. Some policies will include a limited amount of accidental damage cover
Would I get all new items if I claim?
It depends on your policy, so check the wording before you buy. ‘New for old’ contents insurance may give you enough money to replace items at today's equivalent price. This kind of cover might cost more, but could be worth it if you have expensive furniture or technology in your home. Otherwise you could just be paid the current value of your item – so you’d be expected to replace a five-year-old sofa with an equivalent second hand one.
Do I need contents insurance?
It’s up to you. Think about what it might cost to replace all your appliances, clothes, furniture and other possessions if there was a fire or a break-in. A lot of people find that a scary thought, and choose to buy contents cover to reduce their worries about this happening.
Are there any special features to consider?
Yes, there are a few to think about. All risks (personal possessions or items away from the home) covers items you take outside the home, like jewellery, wallets and mobile devices. Legal cover could help if you need to compensate someone for an injury or damage that you have caused, or have a legal dispute with a neighbour. Freezer contents cover will pay out if your appliance goes wrong and food has to be thrown away. You can also get sports equipment cover and garden equipment for lawn mowers and other power tools.
ABI data shows that claim pay-outs are lower on home insurance as people don’t understand that they need extra cover for loss or damage to personal items away from their home. So let’s have a look at what extra cover you can get:
Personal possessions cover – this will cover a whole family living at one address. It is useful for when you might lose something or have it stolen e.g. leaving your phone or tablet on the bus or train or having it stolen in a public place.
Single article limit - a lot of policies have a single article limit. This means that each item that is claimed for cannot exceed a certain amount. In most cases this is around £1500 but can be as high as £15000. So if you have an engagement ring or other valuable item then tell your insurer and check that they list it on all of your policy documentation in case the worst should happen.
Accidental damage cover – this additional level of cover on your contents insurance would be for things that happen in the home such as dropping a glass of water over the tablet, dropping your phone in the sink, iron falls off the ironing board and burns the carpet etc.
Is it expensive?
It depends on a few things – how much stuff you have, how much you spent on it, where you live and how risky the insurer might think that is.
A good way to understand what kind of cover you could get, and what it would cost, is to get some quotes on our home insurance page. Just answer a few questions about your home and what you would want to cover, and we’ll get you a list of suitable policies. That way you can see what’s covered, the price and whether it’s affordable. Why not give it a try?