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
- Money and jewellery
- 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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Types of home insurance
protects your home and its contents from those unexpected accidents.
can protect you and your rental property against unexpected costs, like building or content damage, as well as any disputes.
Student home insurance
can protect your belongings while you're living away from home.
covers your belongings against loss, damage and theft while in your rental property.
Thatched roof insurance
protects your thatched roof home against theft, loss and damage.
can offer some protection for your home and belongings if you live in a flood risk area.
Over 50s home insurance
can provide peace of mind your home and belongings are protected against loss, damage and theft.
can be tailored to cover the building, content or both depending on whether you own or rent your flat.
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.
Home insurance guides
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Leasehold buildings insurance
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Thinking of renting out your spare room? There are a few things you need to consider before becoming a live-in landlord. Here's what you need to know.
Flood Re - all you need to know
Living in a high-risk flood area can come with high insurance costs - that's why the Flood Re Scheme was created. Here's how you work out if you're eligible.
Renovation insurance: am I covered during house renovations and building work?
Home renovation insurance is essential if you're spending time and money on renovations. You need the right insurance to cover your house during home renovation.