If you used a mortgage to buy your home, your provider will have insisted you have buildings insurance before transferring any money to your solicitor. However, this alone is just one of two types of home insurance, and to make sure you’re fully protected, you’ll need both buildings insurance and contents insurance if you own your own home.
If you’re renting a property, you shouldn’t need buildings insurance as you don’t own the building – but you should make getting contents insurance a priority.
What is contents insurance?
Contents insurance protects your belongings from perils such as; fire, explosion, lightening, earthquake, flood, storm, escape of water, burglary, or attempted burglary. If any items are damaged, stolen or lost, your insurer will pay out to repair or replace them.
If you don’t have a contents insurance policy, and the worst happened, you could end up having to pay to replace such items as clothing, furniture, electrical items and jewellery yourself – and for many people this would be totally unaffordable.
Typically, the contents that are covered are all the things you’d take with you if you moved home, plus your carpets and curtains.
Getting the right amount of cover
It’s vital you make sure you don’t underestimate how much your belongings are worth. This is a common mistake, and can result in you ending up with a policy that won’t pay out enough or at all if you were to make a claim in the future.
Equally, you shouldn’t overestimate either, as this will increase your premium unnecessarily. Over time, you’ll end up paying far more in than you needed to. There are many online calculators that you can use to help you accurately estimate the value of your contents. Or you could go from room to room totting up the value of your belongings if you’ve a good idea of how much they’re worth.
With a ‘bedroom rated’ policy, the insurer bases your cover on the number of bedrooms you have and will typically offer cover for between £40,000 and £50,000 worth of belongings as standard. If you feel this isn’t enough, it’s important to ask if there is a way of increasing your amount of cover.
Some insurers offer an ‘unlimited sum insured’ policy which will cover all belongings, up to any amount, so you’ll know for definite that the items you’d like insured are covered. However, with contents cover, you still need to be aware of clauses like maximum single item values. There may also be other exclusions to what you are looking to cover, so it is important to always check the T&C’s and never make assumptions as different policies have different specifications.
Check the policy wording
The extent of cover offered by insurers can differ, and what’s included as standard with one insurer might not be with another. If you have an expensive item of jewellery for instance, or have electrical equipment worth thousands of pounds, you may need to declare this separately, or pay a supplement to make sure its full value is covered. Accidental damage, inside and outside your home, may or may not be included in your policy, so it is always worth checking.
Inform your insurer of any changes
Don’t keep your insurer in the dark if your circumstances change. For example if you extend your home, you might automatically think of telling your buildings insurance provider, but you’ll also need to tell your contents insurance provider. Having more space undoubtedly means more furniture and possessions, so you may need your cover to increase.
It’s also essential to keep your home in a good state of repair and keep any doors and windows locked. If you decide to rent out a spare room, you could invalidate your policy, and any damage done by yourself or your guests on purpose will not be covered.