Compare contents insurance
Choosing contents insurance can be confusing and with different insurance providers offering varying types of cover, it can be difficult to pin down the right policy for you.
So, to help you decide and to make sure you get the most for your money, we’ve created this handy guide to home contents insurance.
What is home contents insurance?
Contents cover is a type of home insurance, it covers the cost of replacing your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged, up to an agreed value – known as the ‘sum insured’.
The easiest way to think of ‘contents’, is that it covers everything you could take with you if you moved – such as beds, curtains, kitchenware and electricals; in other words, everything that isn’t part of the structure of your home.
You can buy contents cover as a standalone policy, or it can be part of a combined policy that also includes buildings insurance (which protects the structure of your home).
Unlike buildings insurance, which mortgage lenders usually insist upon, you’re not under any obligation to have contents cover. However, it is worth considering whether you would you be financially able to replace all your items yourself if something were to happen.
What does home contents insurance cover?
Policies will cover you for insured events – these can include: fire, flood, theft, storms, subsidence or water damage due to burst pipes.
Bear in mind that providers will differ in what they offer so always make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for when you take out a policy.
What are the different types of contents cover?
There are two main types of contents insurance policy available:
- • Indemnity – these policies factor in the wear and tear of an item when you make a claim. For example, if your five-year-old curtains have been damaged by a burst water pipe and although they were worth £300 when new, under an indemnity policy you may only receive £100 or less to replace them. Indemnity policies are now quite rare.
- • New for old – these policies will pay for a brand-new replacement item regardless of how old the damaged or stolen one was. As you’d expect, these policies seem more expensive than indemnity cover because you insure for the current replacement value of all of your contents, but they can offer greater value in the long-term.
For an extra cost, you can also include additional features to your basic contents policy that will ensure you’re covered for most eventualities, such as:
- • Accidental cover – if this isn’t included as part of your standard policy then it could be an invaluable extra. It means that if you accidently spill water onto your laptop, or drop your phone smashing the screen, then you’ll be covered for repair or replacement.
- • Home emergency cover – another handy add-on feature which will provide you with help in an emergency such as a broken boiler in the middle of winter.
- • Legal expenses cover – this can cover the cost of solicitor and court fees, for example if you decide to take a tradesman to court for poor work or if someone was injured on your property and decided to sue you.
- • Personal possessions – this covers belongings that you take out and about, such as a laptop, mobile phone, jewellery, or a handbag or overnight case (and all that’s in them). The amount you can claim for individual items will usually be limited so check what this is, as you may need to separately specify any more expensive items.
How much does contents cover cost and how are premiums calculated?
The cost of your premium will be influenced by how much cover you need and insurance providers will use one of three ways to work this out:
- • Bedroom rated – this uses the number of bedrooms you have as a way of working out how much cover you need. So, whilst a policy for a two-bed home may cost less than for a three bed, it’s based on the insurer’s assumptions and comes with a fixed sum insured and doesn’t necessarily take into account the value of the contents that you might have.
- • The sum insured – these policies need you to be more specific about the value of your contents and whilst this can be time consuming to work out, it will give you a policy better suited to your needs. The best way to work out the sum insured is to go through your home room by room noting down all the items and their respective replacement values.
- • An unlimited sum insured – as the name suggests, this covers your belongings for an unlimited amount but while it serves as a catch-all, it could mean you end up paying more than you need to for your contents.
If you choose to bolt on any extra features then this will bump up the price of your premium.
Remember that a good policy isn’t necessarily the cheapest one. Contents cover is there to compensate you for the loss or repair of your belongings so it’s in your interest to ensure that the amount you’re covered for, is enough.
What is a single article limit?
Most home contents policies will have a ‘single article limit’ in place – this is the maximum amount of money that you will receive for any one item, regardless of how much it’s worth or what the total sum insured of your policy is.
For example – if your sofa cost you £2000 but your single article limit was £1,500 and you put in a claim, then the most you would receive is the limit of £1,500. So, if you wanted to replace your sofa like for like, you’d be expected to meet the £500 shortfall.
Something else to think about is whether or not a policy stipulates a ‘maximum limit’ for a collection of items such as jewellery or valuables.
You should make sure that the value of your items doesn’t exceed that limit. If it does, you should choose your policy carefully and you might want to talk to a provider before you finalise anything.
How can I lower the cost of my contents cover?
There are lots of ways to bring down the cost of your contents insurance without compromising on the amount of cover you actually need, think about:
- • Increasing your excess – just as with car insurance, increasing the amount of voluntary excess you pay can lower the cost of your premium (just make sure you can afford it in the event of a claim).
- • Being as accurate as possible – don’t guess the value of your belongings, if you over insure you’ll pay more than you need to, while underinsuring will mean you won’t get enough compensation if you claim.
- • Combined vs. standalone policies – combined buildings and contents cover can be a good choice in terms of value and ease as you only have one insurer to deal with, however it’s worth comparing standalone policies as well as you may find better protection for a similar price.
You can also reduce the cost of cover by improving your home security. A well-protected property is more likely to result in lower premiums – consider:
- • Installing a burglar alarm and fitting appropriate locks – minimising the risk of a break-in could lower your premium.
- • Using a safe – having a safe that cannot be easily be moved or tampered with is another way of lowering the cost of your insurance.
- • Smoke alarms – these are a cost-effective way of lowering the risk of a fire developing to the extent where it could seriously damage your home. They also help you reduce the expense of your home insurance.
- • Neighbourhood watch schemes – getting involved in neighbourhood watch ensures your community keeps a vigilant eye on your home and some insurers will offer discounts if you’re an active member.
- • Multi-property cover – some insurers may offer you discounts if you insure more than one property with them under the same policy.
- • No claims bonus – not making insurance claims can lower the cost of your premium in the long-term, so while the cover is there if you need it, think twice about whether a claim is worthwhile bearing in mind your excess and no claims bonus.
What about contents insurance for students or a shared house?
If you live in a shared house then you can find joint home contents policies but before you sign up for one, there are some issues you should consider:
- • Shared responsibility – joint policies rely on everyone paying their share of the premium, if they don’t, the policy can lapse or you could end up paying for everyone else.
- • Change of tenants – your contents policy will need to reflect the different tenants, so every time someone moves out or there’s a new housemate, the policy details need to be updated. If you have a high turnover of housemates then this can quickly become a chore.
- • Differing opinions – agreeing on a policy between you may prove tricky, especially if some of you have more valuable contents than others.
Instead of spending your time debating different policies, another option is for each of you to arrange your own contents policies.
If you’re a tenant or student, make sure you consider any specific criteria in the policy such as whether you need a lock on your room door.
Why compare home contents cover?
Comparing quotes is the best and easiest way to see all your options in one place. Just tell us what you need and what policy features you’d like, and we do the searching for you – in just a few minutes, you could be choosing your perfect policy from a range of trusted providers.
If you’d prefer to speak to someone, you can do that too – call us on 0330 022 4684 – expert advisors will be happy to help you navigate through all your options.