How to estimate the value of your home contents

When you take out home contents insurance, your insurance provider will want to know how much your possessions are worth. Here’s how you might go about estimating their total value so you pay the right price for your premiums – and get the peace of mind you’re looking for.

When you take out home contents insurance, your insurance provider will want to know how much your possessions are worth. Here’s how you might go about estimating their total value so you pay the right price for your premiums – and get the peace of mind you’re looking for.

Chris King
Head of Home Insurance
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Posted 12 JANUARY 2022

How much contents insurance do I need?

Depending on the policy you choose, contents insurance will cover the cost of replacing your personal possessions if they’re stolen or your home is damaged or destroyed. This means that the level of cover you need depends on the total value of the items in your home. That’s easy to underestimate, which is why it’s important to take time to work it out properly.

Why you need to make accurate estimates of your home contents

The estimated value you give is the maximum amount your insurance provider would pay out if everything you own is destroyed. To help prevent you being out of pocket, this estimate needs to be as accurate as possible.

If it’s too high, you could end up paying more than you need to for your insurance. If it’s too low you could end up underinsured, which means that your insurance provider might only give you a percentage of any claim you make.

To find out more about underinsurance, read our guide: Avoid under-insuring your home.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), many UK households could be underinsured because they just don’t know how much their home contents are worth. When you get a quote through us, we provide a contents calculator tool that will help you estimate the value of your contents.

What to include in the estimate

When you estimate the value of your home contents you need to consider all your possessions, not just the more valuable items that might be taken in a burglary. Some of your home contents are unlikely to be stolen, but they could be destroyed or ruined by fire and flood damage.

In fact, the only things you don’t need to include in the estimate are the fixtures and fittings that are covered under buildings insurance.

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’ll need to include curtains and carpets as these are usually covered by your contents insurance, rather than buildings insurance.

How can I accurately estimate the value of my home contents?

To estimate the value of your home contents, you should:

  • Go from room to room, making a list of all your possessions
  • Estimate how much each possession is worth
  • Get up-to-date valuations of jewellery and other high-value items
  • Add up the cost of all your items to get your estimate

Go from room to room

You probably have more possessions than you think. So, to get a good estimate of the value of your home contents, you need to be methodical.

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. Take a pad and pencil so you can write down an estimate of how much you think each room’s possessions are worth. Don’t forget to include things that are put away in cupboards and drawers.

If you wanted to be extremely thorough, you could write down a list of everything in your house that would be considered content and search online to find out the values.

Make a thorough list of each room’s contents

This could include the following:

  • Furniture that’s freestanding, including lamps, cabinets, sideboards and bookcases, as well as sofas and chairs
  • Artworks, ornaments and antiques
  • Electronics, such as your TV, stereo system and laptop
  • All cooking equipment, such as the oven, microwave, kettle and toaster (as long as they’re not built in)
  • 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, DVDs and games
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Children’s toys
  • Jewellery and similar items
  • Coins, medals or stamp collections
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Garden furniture and ornaments
  • Items stored in sheds or other outbuildings, including play equipment like trampolines, barbecues, bikes and any tools and gardening equipment

Calculate the value of individual items

For each item, give an estimate of its value. The value of an item for insurance purposes is usually 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.

Many contents insurance policies work on a ‘new for old’ basis. It means that if your computer is five years old, it would be replaced with a new model of equivalent spec, not the very latest model, which it might have been when you bought it.

If you’re not sure, go online to see how much it would cost you to order a new replacement item of the same quality.

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 declare it to your provider.
This includes family heirlooms, antiques or designer accessories, as well as electrical equipment. These are known as high-risk items.

Your insurance provider may also have a maximum amount that they’re willing to pay out on any single item. This is known as a single item limit. It’s often around £1,500, but this can vary so make sure you check.

You’ll need to tell your insurance provider if you have any items worth more than the single item limit so they can be listed separately on your policy.

Get up-to-date valuations of jewellery and valuables

Some items, especially those that are rare and collectable, 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 jewellery.

If an item increases in value but you forget to update your insurance policy, you’ll only be covered for its declared value. If an item’s value increases significantly and it exceeds the single article limit, you’ll need to add it to the policy – otherwise it might not be covered at all if you need to make a claim.

Have your valuable items re-valued on a regular basis to make sure you have enough contents insurance to cover them. It’s also a good idea to take photographs to ensure that you get a comparable replacement if you don’t get cash.

The Jewellery Valuers Association is the only independent body in the UK and Ireland for professional values of jewellery, gemstones, watches and silver. You can search for valuers on their website.

You might also want to think about the value of anything that you carry with you outside the home – for example, laptops, mobiles, watches and handbags – and total these up so you know how much personal possessions cover you need.

Add up the total value of your home contents

Grab your calculator. It’s probably sensible to tot up a total value for the items in each room and a separate one for your valuable items. Once you’ve added all the totals together, plus anything else you own that would be classed as part of your household contents, then you have a good estimate of the value of your home contents.

This is exactly what our contents calculator tool does for you, then we can help you get a quote for your contents insurance too.

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

If you’ve already worked out the value of your home contents or you need a helping hand in calculating the value, 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 among insurance providers, so always check the terms and conditions to ensure that the cover meets your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Are my possessions covered outside of the home?

Not all contents insurance policies will cover your belongings if you take them out of the front door. That’s where personal possessions cover comes in.

Depending on the policy, it can cover laptops, bikes, phones, jewellery, glasses, watches and wallets when you’re out and about.

Cover may also be extended to certain foreign destinations, but always read the small print.

How often should I update my contents insurance cover?

Most items either go up or down in value over time. That’s why it makes sense to review the total value of your possessions on a regular basis to make sure you’re paying the appropriate premium for your contents insurance.

For example, with valuables like jewellery, it’s a good idea to get a re-evaluation every three to five years.

A change in circumstances may also give you a reason to review your contents insurance. This could be:

  • Moving in with your partner
  • Children leaving home
  • Renovating and redecorating
  • A wedding, anniversary or special birthday that results in expensive gifts

Do I need to have receipts for my valuables?

To prevent fraudulent claims, your insurance provider may ask you to provide proof of purchase – or at least proof of ownership, like a bank statement that shows the amount you paid.

If you need to show a receipt for the item in question and you don’t have one, you may be able to get a copy from the retailer who sold it to you.

For items like jewellery, you may also need a proof of value certificate.

I download music and films onto my computer. Are they covered?

Many contents insurance providers now offer you the option to include digital downloads in your policy, including e-books, films and music. This covers the cost of replacing your downloads if they’re damaged, lost or stolen. However, it may be invalid if the loss is due to a computer virus or hardware failure – or if you accidentally hit ‘Delete’.

Your downloads will also need to be from legitimate sources like iTunes, Google Play or Amazon.

Is it worth overestimating the value of my possessions?

It’s easy to think that overvaluing will give you extra peace of mind, particularly when the items you’re insuring have sentimental value. However, you could end up paying more than you need to. That’s why it’s important to make the cost estimate for your possessions as accurate as possible.

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