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Contents insurance

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[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £66.00 for their contents home insurance in December 2023.

We compare prices from 42 trusted providers[2], including:

See a full list of our home insurance providers

[2] Correct as of December 2023.

What is contents insurance?

Contents insurance is a type of home insurance that financially protects the possessions in your property. It could cover the cost of replacing them if they’re stolen, destroyed or damaged.

Contents policies protect your belongings from unexpected events outside your control such as fire, theft, storms, floods and water leaks.

It’s different from buildings insurance, which covers the fabric of your home – for example, the walls, floors and roof as well as permanent fixtures and fittings.

Contents insurance can be bought separately or combined with buildings insurance as part of a home insurance policy – if you own your home.

How does contents insurance work?

Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing the belongings in your home if they’re damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen.

There are three different ways providers set up policies around how much insurance you need:

  • Bedroom rated – the provider works out how much cover you need based on the number of rooms in your home
  • Sum insured – you have to work out how much home contents insurance you need.
  • Unlimited cover – all your contents are covered without limit, but there may be limits for individual items.

You might end up paying a higher premium if you take out a policy worked out on the number of rooms but on the upside, they may offer more cover.

Polices might also differ because of how they pay out.

  • Current value – when you make a claim, you’re paid what your item is likely to be worth now. Because of wear and tear, your TV or sofa would now be worth less than you originally paid for it – it’s this smaller amount of money you’d get, which may not be enough to replace the item with a new one. This can also be known as indemnity-only cover.
  • New for old – many contents policies now work on the basis of ‘new for old’, meaning they work out how much it costs to replace your possessions with new ones. 

If you take out a sum-insured policy and are underinsured – i.e. you have undervalued how much your contents are worth – you’d be left out of pocket.

In recent years, some providers have been offering tiered products – for example, Bronze Silver and Gold or Standard, Plus and Premier. These policies may have different limits on payouts and what’s included, for example, Standard will typically be increased as you go up the tiers – and potentially reflected in a more expensive premium. So, what’s covered under a policy might vary – even from the same provider.

With any contents policy, if you make a valid claim, you’ll have to pay an excess. This is the contribution you make towards the claim. There may be a compulsory excess, which is decided by the insurance provider, and a voluntary excess, an amount you choose to pay towards a claim. So, for example, if the compulsory excess is £100 and your voluntary excess is £200, you wouldn’t be covered for the first £300 of any claim. So, you’d need to be able to afford the excess if you make a claim.

Contents insurance isn’t compulsory like car insurance, and your mortgage provider won’t insist on it like they would buildings insurance. But imagine if your home burned down or was flooded – could you afford to replace all your possessions? Contents insurance could help you pay for replacements.

How much does home contents insurance cost?

£44
a year for 10% of people [3]

£66
a year for 51% of people [1]

The cost of home contents insurance depends on several factors, including: 

  • Where you live
  • If the surrounding area is at risk from flooding or crime
  • The total value of your possessions
  • If you want to insure any high-value items
  • The type of home you live in and whether you rent or own
  • Who you live with
  • How secure your home is
  • Your claims history. 

[1] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £66.00 for their contents home insurance in December 2023.

[3] 10% of our customers were quoted less than £43.37 for their contents home insurance in December 2023.

What does contents insurance cover?

Home contents insurance covers your personal belongings. This typically means anything you’d take with you if you moved home. You’ll need to check the details of individual policies to be sure of what’s included.

Examples of the items that contents insurance can cover:

  • Jewellery and watches 
  • Expensive tech – TVs, phones, tablets, laptops and, with some policies, digital assets
  • Appliances – like fridges, freezers, washing machines 
  • Furniture – like sofas, tables and bookcases
  • Furnishings – like carpets and curtains
  • Artwork, ornaments, books and collectables
  • Sporting equipment and musical instruments 
  • Cash and important documents
  • Clothing 
  • Fridge and freezer food
  • Items stored in sheds, garages or other outbuildings, such as tools
  • Replacement locks and keys.

Policies will often provide extra cover around special events, such as weddings and Christmas. Some policies might also cover if you need alternative accommodation because your home is uninhabitable.

If you move home, certain policies could offer cover for damage to your contents when you move, including damage caused by a professional removal firm. You’ll need to get a new quote for your new home when you move, though.

What risks does contents insurance cover?

You can expect household contents insurance to cover you for loss, theft or damage for unexpected events, such as those caused by:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Fire and explosions
  • Flooding or burst pipes
  • Storms
  • Subsidence.

What contents insurance add-ons are available?

When you compare contents insurance quotes with us, you can choose to include extra cover for an additional cost, like:

  • Accidental damage – to cover you for those awful moments when the kids knock over the TV or you spill red wine on your new cream sofa.
  • Home emergency cover – could help with emergency repairs for burst pipes, clogged drains, boiler breakdowns and a broken window, for example.
  • Legal expenses – to cover the cost of legal advice and representation if someone makes a claim against you – for example, if someone gets injured in your home or you have a dispute with a neighbour.
  • Personal possessions cover – also known as out-of-home cover, this can protect valuables you regularly take with you while you’re out and about – like your mobile, laptop, watch and handbag.
  • Away from home cover – could help protect your children’s belongings while they’re away at university.

What’s not covered by home contents insurance?

Contents insurance doesn’t typically cover:

  • General wear and tear
  • Damage caused by improper or poor maintenance
  • The full cost to replace stolen or damaged items that are worth more than the single-item limit
  • Accidental damage – although you may be able to add cover for this as an optional extra or it might be included in some top-tier products.
  • Deliberate damage by someone living in your home
  • Lost possessions
  • Theft through unforced entry – for example, if you leave a door or window unlocked
  • Faulty workmanship and bad DIY
  • Mechanical or electrical breakdown
  • Items you take out of your home – you might need to pay extra for these for cover outside your home
  • Damage caused by pets.

Bicycles may not be covered or only covered if secured in particular ways. If you like to cycle, check whether you need separate or extra cover for your bike.

Matching sets might not be covered unless specifically included in your policy. This type of cover offers extra help in a situation where one item in a set is damaged and you can’t find a matching replacement. If this happens, your insurance provider should pay for the damaged item and an amount towards replacing the undamaged item.

You also won’t be covered if your home is unoccupied for a set number of consecutive days – usually around 30.

How can I save money when comparing home contents insurance?

Nobody wants to pay more than necessary. But when comparing insurance, the cheapest isn’t necessarily best. To make policies cheaper, providers may not cover as many situations or payouts might be lower. So, make sure any policy you choose provides the cover you need.

That said, there are a few factors you can consider to make your premiums more cost-effective.

Combine your contents insurance and buildings insurance

Combining contents and buildings insurance into a joint policy can often get you a discount with your provider. While it’s not guaranteed, it’s always worth checking.

It could also make the claims process simpler, as you don’t have to deal with two different providers if you make a claim that affects both the structure and contents of your home.

Make your home more secure

If you can improve your home security by adding alarms or getting better locks for your doors and windows, your home is less likely to be burgled. This means some insurance providers will see you as less of a risk, which can lead to cheaper insurance.

Offer to pay a higher excess

Like all insurance policies, there’ll be an excess to pay if you need to make a claim. If you pay a higher excess, it could bring down the cost of your insurance. But remember, you’ll need to be able to afford this if you make a claim.

Pay annually rather than monthly

Paying for your insurance annually is almost always cheaper, as monthly instalments usually include interest. There are a few providers, however, that won’t charge you extra if you spread your payments.

Accurately calculate the value of your contents

If you overestimate what your possessions are worth, you’ll end up paying more for insurance than you need to. But underestimate and you won’t be adequately covered and could lose out if you make a claim.

For advice, read our guide to estimating the value of your home contents accurately.

Earn a no-claims discount

If you don’t make a claim for 12 months on your home insurance, you could earn a no-claims discount and get a cheaper premium the following year.

Compare quotes

It’s a good idea to shop around to make sure you’re getting the right deal for your home contents cover at the lowest possible price.
We can help with that. Just enter your details and the level of cover you need, and we’ll give you a list of quotes from a range of insurance providers.

What do I need to get a quote? 

When you start a contents insurance quote with us, we’ll ask you some questions about you and your property so we can show you a range of suitable quotes. It will help to have your current home or contents insurance policy documents to hand so you can check any details.

  • Details about your property, including your postcode and when your home was built.
  • Personal details, such as your profession, if you own, rent or have a mortgage on your home, who’s living with you and how long you’ve lived there.
  • Home security details, including what type of locks are fitted and whether you have a burglar alarm or other security measures in place.
  • The total value of the contents of your home. Read our guide on how to estimate the value of your home contents accurately.
  • Any high-value items individually worth more than £1,500 that you want to cover, as well as any bicycles worth over £350.
  • If you want to insure personal possessions like jewellery, mobile phones or laptops outside of your home.
  • The type of policy you’re looking for – whether it’s contents only or combined contents and buildings insurance – and how much excess you want to pay.
  • If you’d like to add additional cover to your policy, such as home emergency cover or accidental damage.
  • Your claims history
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Do I need contents insurance?

Contents insurance can help protect your belongings if you’re a: 

Homeowner

Buildings insurance will protect the bricks and mortar of your home, but you’ll still need contents insurance to cover your possessions – you can often save money by combining the two.

Renter

Your landlord is responsible for the property but you’ll want to cover your possessions as well as any furniture and appliances you take to your rented home with tenants insurance.

Landlord 

If you rent out a furnished property to tenants or holiday makers, you can protect your belongings against damage and theft with landlord contents insurance.

Student

If you live in halls of residence or a shared home, you’ll need a students contents policy to make sure your belongings are protected.

Holiday homeowner

You might need specialist holiday home contents insurance for your second home if it’s left empty for long periods of time or you rent it out.

Tenant in a shared flat or HMO (house in multiple occupation)

You can protect your own belongings without having to cover your flatmates’ possessions too with room-only contents insurance.

Why use Compare the Market?

It’s quick

 You can compare quotes from 42 home insurance providers[2] in minutes.

You could save

 We found that 51% of customers could save up to £201[4] on their home insurance by comparing with us.

Quotes tailored to you

 Use our quote tool to tell us about you and your home to see what policies will work for you.

Get a home contents insurance quote for as little as £5.50 a month[5] (excluding interest) when you compare with us.

Start a quote


[4]
Based on online independent research by Consumer Intelligence during December 2023, 51% of customers could achieve this saving on their Buildings and Contents insurance through Compare the Market.

[5] 51% of our customers were quoted less than £5.50 per month in December 2023 for their contents insurance based on the monthly cost when paying for the policy in one annual payment, excluding any interest charged on instalment payments.

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Author image Kate Hughes

What our expert says...

“There’s often confusion over what items are covered by contents insurance – especially when you’re out and about with high-risk items like tablets and jewellery. So dig out the details of your new or existing policy and check exactly what is and isn’t covered. Don’t forget that pricey individual items, like a bike or top-of-the-range laptop, may need to be listed separately on your policy if they’re worth more than the single item limit.”

- Kate Hughes, Insurance expert

Frequently asked questions

What is unlimited contents insurance?

Unlimited contents insurance policies, also known as unlimited sum-insured policies, don’t typically impose a maximum limit on the amount you can claim for.

But while there might not be an overall limit, there may be a limit on the amount you can claim for a single item – even though this will be higher than a standard contents policy.

Does contents insurance cover theft?

Yes, contents insurance does protect you against theft. But you won’t be covered if something is stolen from your home because of unforced entry – for example, through an unlocked door or window.

To protect items that you tend to take with you when you’re out and about, like your phone or wallet, you’ll need personal possessions insurance.

Many contents policies will cover you for the cost of replacing locks if your keys are stolen or lost.

Does contents insurance cover mobile phones?

Contents insurance will cover your mobile phone, but normally only when it’s in your home. To cover it while you’re out and about, consider getting personal belongings cover.

Does contents insurance cover bicycles?

Your home contents policy will usually cover bikes against theft while they’re stored at your property. You might need extra cover to insure them away from your home.

If your bike is worth more than £350, let us know when you compare quotes. Depending on the provider, it may need to be listed separately under your policy as a high-risk item.

Find out more about bicycle insurance.

Are my garden and garage covered by contents insurance?

Some contents policies will cover garden furniture, for example, but you may need to add extra cover if you have expensive items like a patio heater or a hot tub. Find out more about insuring your garden.

If your garage is attached to your home, it might well be covered by a standard contents policy. If it’s separate structure, it might be classed as an outbuilding on your policy. If you have expensive tools and other items stored in your garage, you may need to extend your cover.

Read any policy carefully and watch out for any exclusions.

How does new for old contents insurance work?

If you have a new for old contents insurance policy, any items that are lost or damaged will be replaced by your insurance provider based on their current market value. Even if the exact item is no longer available, you’ll be paid out enough to buy a brand-new item of the same value.

One thing to understand with new-for-old is that it replaces like for like. This can sometimes cause confusion – especially around tech items.

For example, say you bought a top-of-the-range TV and a few years later it’s destroyed by a flood. The insurance provider will pay for you to replace it with a similar spec model to the one you bought, not the latest top-of-the-range model – which may have new features.

How much contents insurance do I need?

You’ll need contents insurance to cover the total worth of your belongings.

For example, if you value your contents at £20,000 but they’re actually worth £40,000, you’ll be underinsured by 50%. If you were to make a claim, then your insurance provider is likely to pay only 50% of it.

If you overestimate how much your contents are worth, you’ll end up paying for more insurance than you need.

How do I know how much my belongings are worth?

To estimate the value of your home contents accurately, go through your home, one room at a time, and add up the value of the contents inside. Don’t forget to include small, high-value items, such as jewellery, and remember to value older items at today’s replacement costs.

To help you work out how much your belongings are worth, we have a handy contents calculator you can use when you get a quote from us. 

Are my contents covered outside the home?

Standard contents insurance generally covers your possessions inside your home. To protect personal items while you’re out and about, you’ll need to add personal possessions cover to your contents policy for an additional fee. 

What is personal possessions cover and do I need it?

Personal possessions insurance covers you for loss or damage to items you’d normally take with you when you’re out and about. This could include your handbag, mobile phone, jewellery and wallet or purse.

Some policies will also cover these items while you’re abroad, but cover is often limited to certain countries and for a set period of time. If you’re going overseas, it’s a good idea to check whether your possessions are covered by your travel insurance.   

Some home insurance policies include personal possessions cover as standard, while others offer it as an add-on for an extra charge.  
 
See more on possessions insurance cover outside of the home.

What’s a single-article limit?

Most home and contents insurance policies will have a maximum limit that any single item can be worth before you need to specify it separately on the policy – this is known as the single-article limit. It’s often set at £1,500 but could be lower or higher depending on the provider.

What’s a high-risk item?

High-risk items are valuable possessions that could be easily stolen from your home, for example, jewellery, electrical goods, antiques and collectables.

When you get a quote with us, you'll need to list any high-risk items valued at more than £1,500.

Can I add new items to an existing contents insurance policy?

Most home contents insurance providers will let you update your policy to include new high-value items, such as an expensive TV or gadget. The best way to do this is by getting in touch with your provider.

In addition, some providers will increase your cover before and after special events, such as a wedding or Christmas. If, after a wedding, the total value of the contents of your home has increased permanently, you may need to increase your sum insured – if you have that type of policy.

Do I need proof of ownership for all my possessions?

It’s possible that proof of purchase might be needed, especially for high-value items. Some providers will stipulate in their policy documents that you need to provide a receipt or photo of any items that have been stolen or damaged before you can claim for them.

Is my home office covered by my contents insurance?

Yes, usually your home office equipment – like your computer and printer – should be covered. You may need to list them separately if they cost more than the single-item limit. But check your policy documents to make sure and it’s also worth checking to see whether you need to tell your provider if you work from home.

If your employer has given you equipment, then it should be covered under their policy. If you have customers who come to your home, or you keep stock on the premises, you might need to consider business insurance for those items.

What’s a high-risk item for contents insurance?

Insurance providers will usually define a high-risk item as one that’s particularly attractive to thieves. This could be because either it’s highly valuable or simply that it’s small and easy to steal.

Do I need contents insurance as a tenant?

Yes, if you’re a tenant and you want your personal possessions covered, you’ll need to get your own contents insurance. Your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, which covers the structure of the building, and the fixtures and fittings.
 
You could also benefit from contents cover if:

What changes do I need to tell my insurance provider about while I’m covered by their policy?

Normally, you’ll need to tell your provider as soon as possible if you:

  • Move home
  • Are having building work done
  • Change the number of bathrooms and bedrooms
  • Change how you use your home – for example, you take in a lodger
  • Have someone other than family live with you
  • Start a business from home
  • Leave your home unoccupied for a set number of days in a row
  • Get new items over the single-item limit or increase the total value of your contents
  • Increase the value of the contents of your home
  • A family member is convicted of an offence other than a driving offence.  

If you don’t let your insurance provider know about these changes, any claim you make could be rejected. If you’re unsure if a change will affect your contents cover, it’s best to ask your provider.

I pay monthly for my contents insurance. What happens if I can’t afford or miss a payment?

Your provider could cancel your policy as soon as a payment is missed. Generally, you’ll only be covered if you pay your premiums.

Talk to your provider if you know you can’t make a payment as they may be able to offer some short-term help. 

Can I get a no-claims discount on my home contents insurance?

You can earn no-claim discounts on buildings insurance, contents insurance or combined policies.
 
If you don’t make any claims during the 12 months of the policy, then you can usually get a reduction on next year’s premium. If you don’t claim the following year, then you can build up your no-claims discount. Typically, you can build up your discount over nine consecutive years, but this will vary between providers.

Can I get short-term contents cover?

Yes, you can get short-term home insurance. It’s usually used to cover normally unoccupied properties.

Whether you’re intending to return to your home after a long trip away or you’re renovating a house before you move in, temporary contents insurance could protect your belongings while there’s no one living there.

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Page last reviewed on 12 JANUARY 2024
by Helen Phipps