Compare home contents insurance online

Home contents insurance helps cover the cost of replacing lost, stolen or damaged possessions. 

Our guide to contents insurance explains how it works, why you might need it and how to choose the best policy for your needs.

What is home contents insurance?

Home contents insurance is a form of home insurance. 

Contents insurance, as it’s also known, can help to cover the cost of replacing some of your most valuable possessions.

Put simply, home contents insurance can cover everything you’d take with you if you had to suddenly move out of your home.

  • It can also include additional items in the home such as carpets

  • Insurance companies will also cover items taken out of the home, such as smartphones, computers or jewellery

It’s important to shop around for contents insurance to ensure you find the right policy at the right price for you.

What is home insurance?

Home insurance is a general term used to describe two very different types of insurance, buildings insurance and contents insurance.

Buildings insurance covers the infrastructure of your home:

  • The cost of rebuilding or repairing a home

  • Permanent fixtures and fittings, like kitchens and bathrooms

Contents insurance covers the things you keep in your home:

  • Furniture

  • Personal belongings 

  • Computing equipment and TVs

  • Some types of flooring including carpets

Home contents insurance is often sold alongside buildings insurance as a combined policy. 

Sometimes these policies work out cheaper when bought together but price is not always an indication of suitability so always compare contents policies before committing to one.

Do I need home contents insurance?

Contents insurance is not compulsory. Even so, it is a good idea to have home contents insurance, as replacing items that are damaged, lost or stolen – such in a burglary - can be very expensive.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the average home has contents worth £35,000 (ABI 2018).

Other benefits of contents insurance

As well as obvious items of high value there may be other items in the home, such as food stored in a freezer, that can also be costly to replace. These are often also covered by a standard home contents insurance policy.

Home contents excess 

All insurance companies charge an excess; this is the amount you pay before you claim on your policy. For example, if you make a claim for £500 and your excess is £200, you will have to pay the first £200 and then claim the remaining £300 from your insurer.

What does home contents insurance cover?

You can normally insure anything in your home that is not physically attached to the building, including:

  • clothing

  • furniture

  • jewellery

  • electrical goods

Different policies will offer different levels of cover, but most types of home contents insurance cover help you pay to replace possessions which are damaged or lost as a result of theft, fire and/or flood.

There are optional extras insurers include in some home contents cover, but you will have to pay extra. These include: 

  • Accidental damage cover – for example if you knock your computer over and damage it 

  • Personal possessions cover – this includes items you take outside the home including laptops, cameras, jewellery, and mobile phones

  • Cover while abroad - some insurance policies will also cover you when you go abroad

Are there different types of home insurance cover?

There are 2 different kinds of home contents cover and which one you choose will determine the premium you pay.

New for old 

This cover means you’ll get paid what it costs to replace the items – apart from clothes and bedding/linen where you need to allow for wear and tear. 

Indemnity cover 

You’ll only be able to claim back the current value of your possessions if you choose indemnity over. 

It is cheaper than new for old cover but it means you may struggle to replace some items if you have to make a claim; for example if you claim for a sofa bought for £3,000 you may only be able to claim back the value, which may only be £300.

How do you compare home contents insurance?

To help you choose the right cover we’ve listed what cover to expect both as standard and as additional extras.

Cover for valuable items 

Home contents insurance will cover items of value including jewellery, watches, gold or silver, works of art, cameras, TVs, computers.

However, most insurers will set a total limit on what you can cover and there will be a single item limit on ‘high risk items’ such as jewellery, pieces of art, watches and laptops.

  • This single item limit on the value of any one valuable item (such as a piece of jewellery or a painting, for example) tends to be set at £1,500 or more

  • If you have any high-risk items consider taking out separate cover for them

Money in the home

Cash that you keep at home is covered against theft or damage up to a limit of £500. 

Home contents and freezer contents 

If your fridge or freezer fails or breaks down and food is spoiled, this covers you for the cost of replacing the contents - most insurers will cover up to £300.

If the food is spoiled as a result of a power cut, you should be able to make a small claim for the cost of replacing it through your energy supplier.

Contents in the open or outbuildings

This provides cover for loss or damage to contents in an outbuilding or garage. You will also be covered for items left outside, so long as they are within the boundaries of your home. 

Cover will not normally include garden furniture, ornaments, plants or shrubs.

Personal liability 

This will pay out, normally up to £2 million, if you have to pay damages as the result of a claim made against you for accidental injury to someone or loss or damage to their property.

Optional extras - home contents insurance

Some of the cover we’ve outlined below is included as standard in some home contents insurance policies, but some insurers will charge an extra premium to include it. 

Accidental damage

This covers you against the cost of accidents that might damage the contents of your home, although there are some standard exclusions, such as damage caused by pets.

Water leaks

If you suffer an accidental leak, then this cover will allow you to claim back the cost of any metered water you’ve lost.

Index linking or a high fixed sum insured of £50,000 or more

This means you are covered for the effect of inflation on the cost of replacing your possessions. If you have many high-value items, you may want to pay an extra premium to increase the sum assured.

Special events 

There are occasions when you are likely to have more contents of value in your home than usual, such as Christmas or a family wedding. You can choose to increase your cover to include special events.

Personal possessions 

This is known as an ‘all risks’ cover and allows you to cover personal possessions whilst they are outside of the home. This can include cover for holidays or travel abroad but your insurer may limit the cover to a set number of days per year.

Digital information

If you have a lot of bought content on your phone or computer, such as music files or downloaded films then you may be able to extra cover in case this is also lost. It is not a standard inclusion so you will need to check with your insurer.

This covers you for personal legal problems from property disputes, employment disputes, or injury claims.

Cover will give you access to legal advice and can also cover the legal costs of claiming compensation following an accident that was not your fault.

It can also fund legal actions, such as employment or neighbour disputes.

Repairs guaranteed

The insurance company guarantees any repairs to your contents so long as you use a company recommended by the insurer.

Emergency repairs helpline and assistance

This provides you with a 24-hour helpline and the cost of calling a tradesman out to deal with an emergency, such as a broken boiler. 

Cover will pay for repairs and labour and you can add in overnight accommodation costs if you cannot stay in your home.  

Plants

This covers you for loss or damage caused by fire, vandalism or theft to plants, trees, shrubs and lawns. 

Loss or theft of keys 

If you lose your keys or have them stolen, this covers the cost of replacing the locks. 

Business equipment

You can choose to cover office equipment such as computers, printers and furniture. 

If you work from home, let your insurer know so they can make sure you have the right level of cover, normally £3,000 or more.

Home contents insurance and your excess

There will be an excess to pay if you claim on your policy. 

  • Contents excess – this is the amount you will pay if you make a claim and will be set by the insurer. You can choose a higher excess in return for a lower premium but you will have to pay more should you make a claim.

  • Accidental damage excess – if you have accidental damage cover this is an extra excess you will have to pay

What is not covered by home contents insurance

Home contents insurance does have exclusions, these would include:

  • Wear and tear of possessions

  • The structure of your home – this is covered by buildings insurance 

  • Damage to a computer caused by a virus.

  • Claims that exceed the value of a single item limit – normally £1,500

How much is contents insurance?

According to the Association of British Insurers, home contents insurance costs the average family £139 a year.

But what you pay will depend on:

  • Your claims history – if you have made previous claims you may be charged more

  • Value of your contents – having a large number of higher risk items such as jewellery will increase the premium

  • Where you live – if you live in a high crime area you are considered riskier to insure

  • Security measures - insurers may insist you have adequate security such as front doors that double lock, or they may offer premium discounts if you have additional security

How do I know what my stuff is worth?

When you insure your possessions, you should first value them based on what it will cost you to repair them as new.

  • First list everything you own

  • Add up what it would cost to replace every item if bought new

  • Make a note of high value items and let your insurer know, especially if they are worth over £1,500 – some insurers will allow for larger amounts

Always get enough cover to replace all your possessions.

How insurers work out your home contents premium

There are 3 ways insurers price home contents insurance.

Bedroom rated 

In this case you are insured based on the number of bedrooms you have.  Most bedroom-rated policies provide between £40,000 and £50,000 of cover as standard. 

Sum insured

In this case you have to calculate the amount of contents cover you need and pass this onto your insurer. 

Unlimited sum insured 

In this case your contents are covered without limit, but your premiums will be more, and you could be over insured.

How do I know I have the right UK home insurance cover?

You need to make sure you inform your insurance company of large purchases, for example jewellery or if you choose to replace all your furniture.

If you take in a lodger, you also need to let your insurer know as this could invalidate your policy.

How do I get an online contents insurance quote?

When you are looking for home contents insurance have these details to hand. The more details you have to hand, the quicker it will be to get a suitable quote. 

  • Your current home or contents insurance policy documents

  • The value of your contents

  • Details about any high-value items 

  • Details of any previous claims


27 October 2020