Your contents in the balance – what to insure
Over the years, the value of your household contents can mount up - and if you actually work out what the total worth is, this can be surprisingly high. This is why it is worth taking time to calculate what needs to be covered and if the sums are significant, making sure you select the right home insurance.
Buildings insurance can generally be easier to work out, depending on the property, since you only need to provide one key figure to your insurer, namely what the rebuild value of your home would be. Some insurers even offer unlimited cover, giving you extra peace of mind and ensuring you're never underinsured.
Contents insurance can be far more difficult to assess - you need to include items such as furniture, electrical goods, kitchen and home office equipment, clothes and shoes. Don't forget that carpets and curtains are included in contents cover and it is also easy to leave out miscellaneous items, perhaps items such as pushchairs or even a treasured musical instrument. But, although it can be time-consuming, it is certainly worth getting the numbers right.
Calculate the value
Check each room and calculate as accurately as possible the value of everything you want to be covered under your contents insurance. Don't forget the outside, for example, gardening equipment or tools stored in a garage or shed. You can also find some online calculators which can help with this task.
Once you have done this, you can compile an inventory, which you can keep, and update as necessary.
It is easy to lose receipts or to forget to keep them, but if you do buy something of high value, then it is worth storing the receipt safely. Another tip is to take a photograph with a date stamp. This will help if you need to make a claim and are asked for proof of the item. You should also ensure that you inform your insurer if you want a high value item added to your cover.
Check the policy
Home contents policies are not all the same. Some have more generous limits than others, some will cover accidental damage as standard - for example, if water got into your TV or paint spilled on a carpet - others will require you to buy this as an add-on.
Please also be aware that some insurers may not pay out your full claim if you don’t have adequate contents insurance, even if you’re not claiming the maximum sum insured for your contents. It's always best to check closely the terms of your policy, to make sure you have the right level of cover.
Typically there will be a limit of £1500 on any single item - so if you have an engagement ring worth £2000, for example, you are likely to need proof of valuation and to ensure the insurer will agree to cover it - which will probably involve an extra premium. Again, if you've have built up a sizeable jewellery collection, valuations could be a good idea.
'All risks' cover can also be purchased so that personal possessions such as jewellery or sporting equipment are covered when you are out of the house. Again, check what is covered - some policies may have exclusions, such as laptop computers.
While we are all busy and it can be tempting to skimp on working out what needs insuring at home, a few hours spent getting it right can be well worth it, making sure you're prepared should anything happen in the future.