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Home contents insurance

Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing your possessions if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. It includes everything you would take with you if you moved home including your furniture, kitchen appliances, curtains, bedding, clothing, television, computing equipment and jewellery.  

It is important that you get your contents sum insured right, as this is the maximum your insurer will pay out if you claim. Your contents should be insured for the cost of replacing them as new, not their current value. It is important to re-evaluate your contents sum insured on a regular basis, particularly after purchasing expensive items, or following a birthday or Christmas. Often contents policies will have a limit, so you should check that this will be enough to cover the value of all of your belongings. Find out more about valuing your homes contents insurance here.

Contents policies usually include a single item limit, such as £1,500 for example. Contents valued at less than this limit will automatically covered, though if you have more expensive items such as jewellery, works of art or electronic equipment that are worth more than this single item limit, you may need to pay an extra premium to cover them.  

Most contents insurance policies cover the cost of replacing or repairing your possessions that are damaged or destroyed as a result of an insured event such as: 

However, most contents policies will not cover contents that are damaged or destroyed due to: 

  • General wear and tear 
  • Mechanical or electrical breakdown, such as a fridge breaking down due to it coming to the end of its useful life 
  • Restricted cover when your home is empty for a long period (specified in the policy) or is let to tenants 
  • Any amount over the limits specified in the policy 

Most insurers also provide the following optional extensions: 

  • Accidental damage to your contents – For example, spilling paint on the sofa or knocking over the TV and breaking it 
  • Cover away from your home – Sometimes known as ‘all-risks’, you can cover loss of or damage to your possessions while away from your home, up to asset limit. You may need to list separately specified items such as jewellery, laptop computers and bikes that may be more likely to be damaged or stolen. 
  • Legal expenses cover – Usually gives you access to legal advice, and covers the legal costs of claiming compensation following an accident that was not your fault, as well as the cost of taking or defending other specified legal actions, such as employment or neighbour disputes 
  • Home emergency assistance – This covers the cost of calling a tradesman out to deal with an emergency, such as a broken boiler. It will cover the repairs and labour and may include overnight accommodation if you cannot stay in your home as a result.  

How do insurers decide the cost of contents insurance? 

Insurers take into account a variety of factors when calculating a contents insurance premium such as: 

  • Value of your contents, taking into account higher risk items such as jewellery 
  • Where you live, as some areas will have higher crime rates or be more prone to flooding for example 
  • Your previous claims history 
  • Security measures. Some insurers have minimum security requirements, or offer premium discounts for certain security measures 

See the ABI’s tips on how to cut the cost of your home insurance premium for more information on how to get the best value out of your insurance.