Just what is contents insurance?
Contents insurance covers you against the damage or loss of personal belongings in and around your home. It differs from buildings insurance, which covers the structure of the house against occurrences such as fire, flood, subsidence and damage from storms.
Buildings insurance is usually compulsory when you take out a mortgage, but contents insurance is entirely voluntary. Buildings and contents insurance are often combined in the same policy but some homeowners prefer to take them out separately.
This is most common in rented properties where tenants may wish to take out their own contents insurance while the landlords are usually responsible for sourcing buildings insurance.
What is covered?
Contents insurance usually covers any item that is not a part of the fabric of your house. This can include electrical items such as televisions and computer equipment, personal effects such as clothes and jewellery, items of furniture and non-permanent fixtures such as curtains and carpets. Some policies will even cover the cost of food that spoils if, for example, a power cut affects your fridge and freezer.
Some policies may also cover certain items if they are lost or damaged outside the home. These may include:
- Items stored in a shed such as lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and tools
- The contents of a handbag or wallet
The situations under which such items are covered may be quite specific. If you keep a bicycle in your garden, for example, there may be a stipulation that it says it must be chained or locked up overnight. Laptops may only be covered when being used for work, school or college.
Some contents insurance policies may also cover certain items taken on a trip or holiday. As with any insurance policy, you should check the details carefully so that you understand exactly what is and isn't covered. Comparison websites like Comparethemarket.com can help you to find the best policy for your individual needs.
How much is covered?
The value of contents covered will vary depending on the policy. When choosing a contents insurance policy, you should ensure that the amount covered is high enough to replace your belongings if you’re unfortunate enough to lose everything in a fire or other disaster. Some insurers may ask you to specify particularly valuable items when taking out a policy. Keeping photographs of your valuables (perhaps stored on a free online image hosting site) can help streamline the process if you need to make a claim.