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Contents insurance

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1Correct as of April, 2023

What is contents insurance?

Contents insurance protects your household belongings against theft, loss and damage. Although it’s not compulsory it’s a good idea to protect your belongings as they can cost thousands to replace.

Contents insurance is often sold alongside buildings insurance to form a complete home insurance policy.

There are 2 types of contents insurance policy - ‘new-for-old’ and ‘as new’.

With new-for-old, some insurers replace the damaged item with a new one, while others offer a cash settlement.

As-new policies, also known as indemnity policies, tend to be cheaper. But they only pay out the item's depreciated value, with wear and tear taken into account.

What does contents insurance cover?

Contents insurance is designed to cover some of the cost of repairing or replacing your possessions if they're damaged, stolen or lost in a fire.

It typically covers everything you might take with you if you moved house, including:

  • Electrical goods
  • Furniture
  • Money and jewellery
  • Clothes
  • Works of art and family heirlooms

Some insurers also include shed insurance which should cover your home contents and the contents of your garden and outbuildings. If you have a lot of gear stored outside it’s important to check how much cover is included too as levels vary substantially between insurers.

But contents insurance doesn't cover everything. It won't cover the physical structure of your building. For that, you need a buildings insurance policy.

It also might not cover expensive items above £1,000 in value. For these, you may need separate high-value-item insurance.

It might not cover you for theft if your home was left unsecured.

If you fail to tell your insurer about a new lodger living at your address, this also risks invalidating your policy.

White goods such as washing machines should be covered against theft but if it breaks down, it's unlikely to be covered by your policy.

This isn't an exhaustive list, so always check your policy details for specifics. Or, for a full list of common home insurance exclusions, see our guide.

Do I need contents insurance?

If you'd struggle to cover the cost of replacing your possessions, then you might need contents insurance.

If you're a tenant, your landlord's home insurance won't cover your possessions. Contents insurance could help protect your tech, furniture and more while you're renting. A tenants insurance policy could help by combining contents cover with tenant liability insurance, giving you full cover.

Homeowners benefit from contents insurance too, and can combine it with buildings insurance to create a simple, comprehensive policy.

Landlords don't usually need contents cover. It's normally the responsibility of the tenants unless the property is furnished. In this case, landlord insurance covers your possessions while your property is occupied.

Students can get contents insurance too, but student contents insurance is usually more expensive. This is due to the increased risk of theft and damage your possessions face in a shared home.

If you live in shared accommodation, you may also want to consider shared house contents insurance. This will help cover just your room, meaning you aren't paying to cover communal areas. Like student contents insurance, it's normally more expensive as insurers see shared properties as higher risk.

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*Based on data provided by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, www.consumerintelligence.com (April ’23). 51% of home insurance customers could save £174.41 on a combined policy.
**Single annual policy. Shell Go+ account required. Only one £10 fuel reward can be used per transaction and each can only be used on fuel purchases of £10 or over. HelloFresh 18+ subscription service. Geographical exclusions apply. T&Cs apply

How much does contents insurance cost?

Our data shows the average cost of a contents insurance policy is £85.60 per year*. But the exact cost of your policy depends on the value of your possessions, including any high-value items you need to insure. Where you live and the security of your home can also impact the cost.

*Confused.com data October 2021 - October 2022 - top average premium excluding quotes with claims or accidental damage.

How much contents insurance do I need?

The average home contains £48,000 worth of contents*, so it's important that you work out how much cover you need.

Otherwise, you could either end up under-insured or paying for cover you don’t need. Instead, go around your home from room to room and write a list of everything in it and a rough idea of its cost.

As a rule of thumb, anything you’d take with you if you moved house should be included on your contents policy – including items like curtains and carpets.

Don’t forget items hidden away in the loft, basement, garage and shed. Remember that high-value items over £1,000 need to be listed separately.

Some insurance providers calculate the value of your contents based on how many rooms are in your home. But this can increase your policy if they overestimate the total sum.

Take the time to accurately calculate the total cost of your contents to ensure you're getting the right amount of cover.

Still wondering about how much cover to get and what to include? Our guide on how much content cover you need could help! Or let our contents calculator do the hard work for you.

*Confused.com data based on an average value from combined and contents insurance policies. May 2022 - October 2022.

How do I get a contents insurance quote?

Before you compare contents insurance quotes, having the following details to hand will speed things up:

  • Your property's build date, which is usually pre-filled based on your address.
  • The year you bought your house  or the date you moved in if you're renting.
  • Lock types on any external doors. If you're unsure, our guide helps explain different lock types. We also provide example lock pictures to help you out.
  • Previous claims details and costs from the last 5 years - this should be in your renewal documents. Alternatively, contact your current insurer.
  • The total value of your personal possessions. Our contents calculator can help you work this out.
  • Details of any high-value items worth over £1,000. This could be engagement rings, antiques, musical instruments or expensive computer equipment.

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What optional extras are available?

There are several optional extras you can add to your policy for an additional fee that increase cover for your home. These include:

  • Home emergency cover
  • Legal cover or family protection cover
  • Away-from-home cover
  • Accidental damage cover

Home emergency cover could provide protection against unexpected incidents, such as burst pipes or your boiler breaking down. However, to fully protect your boiler it might be best to get a standalone boiler insurance policy.

Legal expenses cover or family protection cover covers costs and expenses in the event of certain legal disputes. Some insurance providers may include this as standard but it's always worth checking. Think about whether you need the additional cover before you buy it.

Personal possessions cover can cover your possessions against loss and theft while you're away from home. This can include things you carry with you every day, such as jewellery, watches, handbags, laptops and mobile phones.

Accidental damage insurance could help for one-off accidental events, such as spilling something on your sofa, smashing a television or dropping an antique vase.

Once you get a quote we'll show you details of the policies available to you, including whether these extras are included or if they cost extra to add to the policy.

How do I get cheaper contents insurance?

With the cost of living rising, it's important to keep your costs as low as you can without compromising on cover.

If you're looking for ways to lower your contents insurance quote, you can:

Increase your home insurance excess. The higher your voluntary excess, the cheaper your policy price could be. But keep in mind that you pay this amount towards any home insurance claim that you make.

Upgrade your home's security. Having 5-lever mortice deadlocks on your doors reduces the risk of a break-in, making it less likely for you to make a home insurance claim.

Make regular home maintenance a habit. Making sure your gutters are clear and that there are no loose roof tiles lessens the risk of making a claim for storm damage, for example.

Pay for your contents insurance annually. A monthly direct debit can sometimes be more expensive as you're usually charged interest. If you can, paying for the policy in one go could help lower your costs.

For more ways to save, read our guide on how to reduce the cost of your home insurance.

What our home insurance expert says

Try to be as accurate as possible when you estimate the value of your personal belongings. If you have family heirlooms or expensive jewellery, you’ll want to make sure they’re insured. You can add high value item cover for items worth more than £1,000 each when you get a contents insurance quote. You can’t replace the sentimental value of some things, but you can replace the financial loss.

Need more help?

Does contents insurance cover water damage?

If your possessions are damaged by a flood, then yes, you should be covered by your contents insurance policy.

But if you have a burst pipe, your contents insurance policy is likely to cover only items that were damaged by the water. The pipe itself, and any damage to your fixtures and fittings, would likely come under a buildings insurance policy.

Does contents insurance cover my tech?

Smartphones, laptops and gaming consoles will all be covered by your contents insurance. You will need to add a laptop or items worth over £1,000 to your home insurance quote to ensure cover in the home. However, for anything you use while you are out and about you will need away-from-home cover.

It’s always a good idea to keep receipts if you can and take photos of high value items as proof of ownership. This will help if you are claiming for theft.

You might also consider specialist gadget insurance if you have a lot of gear.

What’s not covered by contents insurance?

The most obvious thing that's not covered by contents insurance is the building itself. The structure of your home and any permanent fixtures come under your buildings insurance policy.

Most contents insurance policies also have exclusions for:

  • Wear and tear
  • Theft where there's no signs of forced entry
  • Claims where it's found that poor maintenance was responsible for an incident

What’s a high-risk item?

In insurance terms, a high-risk item is one that's high-value and relatively easy to steal. This includes:

  • Valuable collections, for example coins, stamps or medals
  • Antiques and art
  • Gadgets and electronic equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Designer clothing

If you own any items that are worth over £1,000, you should list them individually when you get a contents insurance quote.

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