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Simple steps to thoroughly covering your home’s contents

In the UK, contents insurance customers may be unaware of the level of cover they have or don’t estimate their possessions thoroughly.

This can mean that when they do come to claim they lose out, getting back less than the real value of the contents of their homes. So valuable and sentimental items, that could have been easily replaced if the initial estimation was thorough may not be replaced like for like.

 

Six simple steps to accurately insuring your possessions

 

1. Make sure you get a policy that’s right for you

Home contents insurance policies vary throughout the market, so it’s important to ensure your individual needs and circumstances are met. Below is a list of examples you might want to check for: 

 

  • Check that electrical items are covered against accidental damage and whether this can be extended to carpets, settees, pictures and other items.

  • Check that food in your fridge and freezer is covered if the electricity supply failed or floodwater spoiled such perishables.

  • Check that a single item limit is a feature of the policy and, if so, whether you can get the cover extended to protect high-risk items such as artwork, watches and jewellery.

  • Check that padlocked bicycles are covered.

  • Check that the policy extends to items taken outside the home such as smartphones, cameras and laptops, which you may carry on holidays.

  • Check that your contents are insured if you leave your home empty for a certain length of time.

 

2. Complete your own estimation

A home’s contents typically adds up to a value of around 20% of the value1 of the property itself and for mature homeowners in their 50s and above who have accumulated any art, jewellery or other items over the years, the value could be higher. 

 

3. Items often overlooked

When estimating the total value of your home’s contents by moving from room to room, visually noting items and perhaps making a list, it’s easy to forget background things such as carpets, rugs and curtains, which can add up to a considerable sum.

Clothes are also typically overlooked, despite previous research from companies such as VestaireCollective having found that the wardrobe of a lady aged 55 or over totals £2,232 on average2.

Wines, spirits and fine foods can quickly add to the value of your home’s contents, along with sports equipment, crockery, fine china, glasses, ornaments, media gadgets, your DVD film collection and even the books that have been accumulated over time.

Health and mobility-related items such as hearing aids, spectacles, wheelchairs and particularly any specialist equipment should also be included in calculations as such items can sometimes be of high monetary value.

 

4. Be aware of changes in an item’s value

 

Items that depreciate

While electrical items like televisions tend to depreciate and are hence typically replaced on a ‘new for old’ basis. Any excess payable will also need bearing in mind.

Items that appreciate

Some items appreciate, however, which is often the case for jewellery. A watch, necklace or earrings given to you as a gift several years ago may well be worth considerably more now, which will need to be reflected by your home contents insurance cover.

 

5. Be realistic

Balance is required when evaluating how much your possessions are worth. Make sure the value of certain items is not exaggerated or generally miscalculated, resulting in an unnecessarily high premium. For sentimental items, judge their monetary value frankly, however tough this may feel.

 

6. Recalculate periodically

Few homes will remain static in terms of their contents, as electrical items get upgraded to the latest models and birthdays and anniversaries mean more gifts will often be accrued. It’s advisable to recalculate the contents of your home every year - or more frequently if you buy a lot of new items each year.

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