Contents insurance explained

What's covered in your home by a standard contents policy

Contents insurance generally covers possessions you'd take with you when moving house, or anything that isn't a fixed feature of your home.

To ensure that you would be fully covered if you had to replace the contents of your home, it's important to work out how much it would cost to replace all of your contents with new items.

A typical contents list may include the following types of item.

  • Household goods – eg appliances like cookers, fridges, televisions and computers
  • Furniture and furnishings – eg beds, sofas, curtains and carpets
  • Valuables – eg jewellery, watches, mobile phones, cameras and works of art
  • Personal belongings – eg clothes, shoes and bags
  • Money – eg cash, cheques, premium bonds and travel tickets

You can use our home contents calculator, or download our free app to work out the cost of replacing your possessions. These will help make sure you don't miss any items that should be covered.

Once you have worked out the value of your contents you can get contents insurance quotes from those insurers and brokers who can offer the level of cover you need.

What your contents are insured against

Contents insurance provides cover against a range of events, which commonly include:

  • theft
  • vandalism
  • fire damage
  • water damage
  • storm damage
  • earthquake damage

New-for-old contents insurance cover

Through wear and tear some items in your home may not be worth much in their current condition. Yet replacing them with new ones if they were lost or damaged could be costly.

Many insurers take this into account and offer contents insurance policies which provide new-for-old cover on most items, except for less durable things like clothes and linen.

If you are looking to save money on your contents insurance, some insurers offer indemnity cover which takes into account the cost of wear and tear when an item is replaced.

Premiums for indemnity cover are lower, but you would only receive a portion of the cost of replacing damaged or lost items when a claim was paid.

Your valuables

A typical contents policy will set an upper value limit for single valuable items. If you have valuables with a higher value, check to see whether additional cover is available for these items.

For items worth over £500 it's a good idea to keep receipts because a valuation or proof of purchase may be required when you make a claim.

Keep photos and a description of valuable items, making a note of any serial and model numbers as this will help if an item is stolen.

Policy excesses

Check the excesses that apply when considering a contents insurance policy. The excess is the amount you pay towards a claim on the policy.

Most insurers specify a compulsory amount, but you can opt to pay an additional voluntary excess if you want to reduce the cost of the policy premium.

Additional contents cover

If you would like cover for valuables and belongings which you take out of the home, look for a policy where optional away from home cover can be added.

If you would like extra protection for contents while they are in your home, consider a policy which provides additional accidental damage cover.

On some policies accidental damage cover is included as a standard feature for particular items. Bear this in mind when you compare quotes for contents insurance.