How to estimate the value of your home contents

When you take out home contents insurance, your insurance provider will want to know the total value of all your possessions. Here’s how you might go about working it out.

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What to include in the estimate

To ensure you have sufficient contents insurance, you’ll need to give your insurance provider an estimate of how much your possessions are worth. And that means all your possessions, not just your more valuable items that might be taken in a burglary. The whole point of insuring your home contents is to allow you to replace everything should you need to. Don’t just think about theft, which is bad enough, but incidents like fire and flood damage can cause devastating damage.

The only things you don’t need to include in the estimate are the fixtures and fittings that are covered under a buildings insurance policy. Fixtures and fittings include the walls, windows and roofs of your property, plus anything that’s secured in place to the walls or floor, such as fitted wardrobes, the kitchen and bathroom suites. You will need to include curtains and carpets as these are usually covered by your contents insurance, rather than buildings insurance.

The best way to ensure you don’t miss anything when you’re working out your estimate is to move from room to room in your home, making a list of everything in that room that would be classed as a possession. For example, you’d need to include the following:

  • Furniture, including lamps, cabinets, sideboards and bookcases, as well as sofas and chairs
  • Artworks and antiques
  • Electronics, such as your TV and laptop
  • All cooking equipment, such as the oven, microwave, kettle and toaster
  • The fridge and freezer
  • The food stored in the freezer and cupboards
  • Kitchenware, such as pots and pans
  • Freestanding appliances, such as washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers
  • Bedroom furniture and linen
  • Cutlery and crockery
  • Books
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Children’s toys
  • Jewellery and similar items
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Garden furniture and equipment
  • Items stored in sheds or other outbuildings, such as bicycles and play equipment

How to calculate the price of individual items

When you calculate the price of individual items, remember that the value of an item for insurance purposes is the amount of money it would cost to replace the item today, which is unlikely to be the same as the price you paid for it.

Make a note of any high-value items. Most contents insurance policies will have a maximum limit that any single item can be worth before you need to specify it on the policy – this is commonly known as the single article limit (it’s often set at £1,500, but could be lower or higher depending on the provider). You might need to insure expensive items separately.

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jewellery

Have your valuable items re-valued on a regular basis, to ensure your contents insurance remains adequate to cover them. Some items, especially rare and collectable items, can increase significantly in value over time. The value of gold and other precious metals can also go up and down, affecting the value of any jewellery. If an item increases in value but you forget to update your insurance policy, you’ll only be covered for its declared value. It’s advisable to get a valuation certificate that’s generally less than three years old so, in the event of a claim, you have an up-to-date value.

When you estimate the total value of your possessions, you need to calculate the value of each item you’ve listed, plus anything else you own that would be classed as part of your household contents, then add up the total.

How accurate does the estimate need to be?

The estimate needs to be as accurate as you can possibly get it. If you overestimate the value of your possessions, then you’ll end up taking out more insurance than you need and paying a premium that’s too high. An insurance provider will never pay out more than the actual value of your possessions.

If you underestimate, then you could find out that the payout you receive doesn’t cover the full amount of your loss. This is because insurance providers can reduce any payout by the same degree to which you underestimated the value of your possessions (this can happen if you have an ‘average clause’ in your contents insurance policy).

For example, if you estimated the value of your possessions at £20,000 when in fact it was £30,000, you’d be underinsured by a third. So, if you suffer a loss of £3,000 and claim for this amount, your insurance provider would reduce the payout by a third and only give you £2,000.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), one in five UK households could be underinsured because they just don’t know how much their home contents are worth.

How can I get a good deal on home contents insurance?

Once you’ve worked out the value of your home contents, you can start comparing home insurance. Just tell us what you need and we’ll search the UK’s most trusted home insurance providers to find some great-value deals that suit you. Remember that policies do vary between insurance providers, so always check the terms and conditions to ensure that the cover meets your needs. 

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