A simples guide

What is considered a high risk item for contents insurance?

For the purposes of contents insurance policies, an insurance provider will define a high risk item as an item that is frequently stolen from a home, and which can be easily sold on by the burglar. Not surprisingly, most high risk items are valuable items.

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Examples of high risk items

• Antiques

• Jewellery, or anything made from gold, silver or another precious metal

• Electronics, such as televisions, digital radios, video and audio equipment, computers and laptops, tablets and smartphones, cameras and other photographic equipment

• Software stored on electronic devices

• Paintings and other works of art

• Stamp, coin and medal collections

• Watches and clocks

• Furs and other valuable clothing items

• Musical instruments

• Anything else considered to be rare or collectable

Just about everyone has at least some of these items in their home, but the more of these items you own, the greater the risk your insurance provider will feel you pose, and the more your premium will increase.

Do an inventory of your high risk items

You’re advised to make a list of all high risk items within your home, and to also make a note of their value. Their value is not necessarily the same as what you paid for the item – the key point here is how much would it cost to replace the item in today’s market? You may be asked to provide documentary proof of the item’s value, and maybe proof of purchase as well.

In general, people vastly underestimate the overall value of their contents. The average value of the household contents of a family of four is £55,000, yet the average estimate is only £25,000.

room with tv and sofa

What cover is typically offered for high risk items?

Under a standard contents insurance policy, cover for high risk items is only available for a set percentage of your total sum insured, say one third. So for example, if your sum insured is £30,000 then your high risk items would only be covered for £10,000 in total. If you lost high risk items totalling £13,000 in value, you would be £3,000 out of pocket in this example.

Alternatively, an insurance provider might offer high risk cover at a number of different levels, e.g. £6,000, £9,000, £12,000 and £15,000.

There may also be a limit on the amount of cover offered on each individual high risk item, which might for example be £1,500 or £2,000. Consider how many items you own that cost more than this? If a jewellery item worth £1,800 is stolen and your individual item cover is £1,500, you would need to pay the residue.

This could be less than ideal if many of your high risk possessions were stolen in a burglary, or if you lost almost everything in a fire.

Restrictions such as these demonstrate the importance of reading the small print of policy documentation before you make a decision to purchase. A particular insurance provider may be offering the cheapest headline price, but can they provide the cover you need for your high risk items?

If you have any high risk items of high value, say more than £1,500, then you should be looking at arranging separate insurance cover for these items.

Exclusions and special conditions

Reading the small print of individual policies is also important for a number of other reasons:

• Does the policy cover high risk items taken outside the home? Jewellery, laptop computers, phones and tablets may be the most common high value items that you carry around with you

• Does the policy provide cover for what is stored on electronic items? Your policy may cover the replacement value of your laptop if it is stolen, but what about the software, downloads and other digital information stored on it?

• Most policies will not cover the costs of the thief’s use of the stolen item, so if your mobile phone is stolen and the criminal racks up a huge bill, you may be responsible for paying it

• You should not normally expect to be covered if electronic items break down

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