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Personal possessions insurance: cover for outside the home

If you have personal possessions insurance, anything you own worth less than £1,000 should be covered both in your home but also when you take these items out of the house.

You’ll pay an extra fee for this insurance for personal belongings, but it could be worth it in the long run.

Here we examine exactly what personal belongings insurance covers. From what’s included and excluded, to what happens if you’re a student or someone else has your belongings.

A pickpocket attempting to steal a wallet from someone in broad daylight

What is personal possessions cover?

Personal possessions insurance covers items worth less than £1,000 against theft or damage when they're away from home.

It could come in handy if you have a valuable item like a mobile phone or a camera that you take outside with you often.

You can add this as a feature to a standard home insurance policy. The details could vary between insurance companies, so check the policy details before you commit.

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What counts as a “personal possession”?

As a broad definition, a personal possession is an item that you’d normally take with you outside your home.

This includes: 

  • Cameras
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Jewellery
  • Wallets and handbags
  • Musical instruments
  • Sports equipment.

This isn’t an exhaustive list – if in doubt, get in touch with your insurer.

Items that are worth over £1,000 don’t usually come under this definition. Instead, you'd list them as a ‘high-value’ or a ‘listed’ item. This may include expensive items of jewellery or things like laptops and bicycles which need to be listed separately.

What’s the difference between personal possessions and contents insurance?

There’s the potential for some overlap between the two types of insurance as they cover many of the same items.

The main difference between contents insurance and personal possessions cover is that:

  • Personal possessions insurance covers items that you take outside the home

  • Contents insurance is for items that get damaged, lost or stolen from inside the house itself.

You can't buy personal possessions cover on its own - the only way to get it is to add it onto a contents insurance policy.

What does 'cover away from home' mean?

Cover away from home protects your possessions once you step outside your front door. So, if someone steals your wallet at the shops, or if your phone smashes on the ground while jogging.

Your home also includes your garden. So, if you lose or damage anything in your garden, you’d claim on your regular home insurance policy.

How much cover do I need?

When you go out, make a note of everything you’re taking with you. If you tend to leave the house with a £500 watch and a £500 mobile phone, then the total amount of cover would be £1,000.

Include everything that you'd need to replace if it were lost or stolen. This includes your jewellery and any gadgets.

What are the alternatives to personal possessions insurance?

If you don’t have personal possessions insurance, you won’t be covered when you’re out of the home unless you have a separate policy in place. You can buy standalone insurance policies for these items and there are a number of specialist policies for this. For example, you could have a policy for your mobile phone and another for any high-value items you own.

It’s always worth comparing the cost of these against adding personal possessions insurance to your contents policy.

Does personal belongings insurance cover me abroad?

The extent of your cover is likely to vary between insurance companies. Some might offer you worldwide coverage, while others might restrict you to the UK.

Check your policy documents to be sure.

Even if your insurance company has global cover, it’s no substitute for travel insurance if you’re going on holiday.

What’s not covered by personal belongings insurance?

Depending on your policy, there might be a few exclusions. For example:

  • Any items that you use for business, like a professional camera – you might need a separate policy for these
  • Anything damaged through wear and tear
  • Items that are stolen after being left unattended
  • Items worth over £1,000. You'll be asked to list these separately
  • Bicycles and laptops worth more than £150. You'll be asked to list these separately.

Will personal possessions cover university students?

You may have heard of student personal possessions insurance. This is a contents insurance policy that usually covers personal possessions which include student’s possessions when they’re away from home.

Not all insurers allow this, some may offer to cover student possessions while they’re living away from home, but others might not.

For extra peace of mind, you could get a dedicated student contents insurance policy. This ensures that all their possessions are protected.

What happens if somebody else has my personal possessions?

There will be circumstances when your personal possessions are out of the home but you don’t have them with you. If a friend or family member is borrowing a camera, or a watch is being repaired, for example.

Each insurer will have its own rules on the areas covered so check your policy details to find out. It’s also worth contacting your insurer and explaining where the items are or will be to find out if you can make a claim or not.

What should I set my excess at?

When you ask for a quote for personal possessions insurance you’ll also have the chance to set the home insurance excess. This is the amount of money you would have to pay if you made an insurance claim. On the whole the higher this is, the lower your premium will be. But just remember you need to be able to afford the excess if you do have to make a claim.

How do I get personal possessions cover?

When you get a home insurance quote with us, we’ll ask you if you want to insure your possessions when away from home. This will be in the ‘Your Cover’ section, when you fill in the details about your home contents.

If you select ‘yes’, we’ll ask you how much cover you need. You can select between £500 and £12,500.

How can I keep my possessions secure?

Personal possessions cover offers extra peace of mind. But the safer you make your possessions, and the lower the risk of your home being burgled, the better. 

Our home insurance expert, Jessica Willock, says:

“Personal possessions cover is just that – personal. So, how much cover you need will depend on the value of the possessions you take outside the home.

Before you get a quote think about these items and tally up what they’re worth.

It’s also important to make sure you take the right steps to keep these items safe when you’re out and about.

You might not be able to claim if you haven’t made reasonable efforts to keep your items secure."

Can I be over-insured?

Yes you can, but you can also be under-insured. If you are over insured you’ll probably be paying too much for your policy. If you’re under-insured and need to make a claim you may not receive enough money for the claim. This is why it’s important to correctly estimate the value of your possessions when you buy insurance.