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Contents insurance

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What is contents insurance?

Contents insurance protects your household belongings against theft, loss and damage. Although it’s not compulsory it’s a good idea to protect your belongings as they can cost thousands to replace.

Contents insurance is often sold alongside buildings insurance to form a complete home insurance policy. Most home contents insurance policies fall into one of two types - ‘new-for-old’ and ‘as new’.

New-for-old does exactly what it says on the tin. Some providers will replace the damaged item for a new one, while others will offer a cash settlement. ‘As new’ policies, also known as indemnity policies, are cheaper, but they only pay out on the items’ depreciated value, with wear and tear taken into account.

How do I get a contents insurance quote?

Comparing contents insurance quotes is easy, it takes just 8 minutes but can be even quicker if you've used us before. Simply start a new quote, or log in to check and update your details before using them to get a quote

Having the following details to hand will speed things up for you:

  • Your property's build date
  • The year you bought your house
  • The lock types on external doors
  • Details of any previous claims
  • The value of your contents
  • Details of any high-value items you want to cover
  • Your property's build date - This is usually pre-filled based on your address.
  • The year you bought your house - If you're renting you'll need the date you moved in.
  • The lock types on any external doors. If you're unsure, our guide helps explain different lock types. When we ask the question we also provide example lock pictures to help you out.
  • Details of any previous claims you've made in the last five years - this should be in your renewal documents. Alternatively, contact your current insurer.
  • The total value of your contents you want to insure. This should include anything you'd take with you if you were to move home. Our contents calculator can help you work this out.
  • Details of any high-value items worth over £1,000 you wish to insure. This includes engagement rings, antiques, musical instruments or expensive computer equipment.

Compare home insurance quotes from up to 65 insurance companies

What does contents insurance cover?

Contents insurance protects your possessions. That means pretty much everything you would take with you if you moved house, from electrical goods, furniture and money through to jewellery, clothes, works of art and any family heirlooms. Some providers also include cover for the contents of your garden shed.

Home contents insurance doesn’t cover the physical structure of your building, for that you need buildings insurance. Buying a combined buildings and contents insurance policy often works out cheaper than taking out two separate policies.

High-value contents insurance is an additional extra you can add to your contents insurance when you get a quote. If you own valuable items such as a family heirloom, expensive gadget or precious jewellery you may need to list them separately as single, high-value items. Some providers may have a set limit on how much they pay out for a high-value item. So be sure to check this when taking out your policy, to ensure you get the cover you need.

How can I get cheaper contents insurance for my home?

Here are a few tips that could help you cut costs and get cheaper contents insurance:

  • Compare prices by shopping around when you buy or renew a policy. It's simple but it's one of the easiest ways to save money. Just make sure the policies you are comparing are like for like. There's no point buying a cheaper policy if it doesn’t offer the cover you need.
  • Increase your voluntary excess. By doing this, you can lower your home contents insurance premium. Just remember that if you need to claim you will have to pay more towards the cost, so make sure it’s not more than you can comfortably afford.
  • Build up your no-claims bonus. Insurers will usually offer a discount if you’ve not made a claim in the last five years. The more years you go without claiming, the bigger the discount.
  • Make your windows and doors as secure as they can be. Making sure you have the correct locks installed on doors and windows can minimise the risk of break-ins and help reduce your premiums.
  • Pay your premiums annually if you can afford to. Paying in one lump sum usually works out cheaper than paying monthly. This is because many insurers will charge interest or an admin fee to arrange monthly payments.
  • Install a burglar alarm and some insurance providers will offer you a discount on your contents insurance.

For more ideas take a look at our guide to cutting the cost of home insurance.

Do I need contents insurance?

Contents insurance isn’t a legal requirement. However, the cost of replacing your possessions can be very expensive if you are burgled or they are damaged in a fire or flood.

Homeowners who also need buildings insurance can buy comprehensive cover in a combined buildings and contents policy. This can help protect not just your possessions but the fixtures and fittings of your home.

If you're renting your home you will just need a standalone contents policy. If you're a student, it's also possible to buy specialist contents insurance for students.

Landlords need buildings insurance but they do not usually need contents insurance.

How much does contents insurance cost?

Our data shows the average cost of a contents insurance policy is £122.33** However, the exact cost of your policy will depend on the value of your possessions including any high-value items you need to insure. Where you live and the security of your home will also have an impact on the cost.

**September 2021 Confused.com data - top average premium excluding quotes with claims or accidental damage.

How much contents insurance do I need?

The Association of British Insurers estimates that the average home contains £35,000 worth of contents, so it's important that you get the right level of cover.

Don’t just guess how much cover you need. You could either end up under-insured or paying for cover you don’t need. Instead, go around your home from room to room and write a list of everything in it and a ballpark figure of its cost.

Don’t forget items hidden away in the loft, basement, garage and the shed. Also remember that high-value items over £1,000 will need to be listed separately. If you'd prefer, you can use our contents calculator to help you get a more accurate figure.

Some insurance providers calculate the value of your contents based on how many rooms are in your home. However, this can increase your policy if the total sum is overestimated – and also cause issues if you need to make a claim and the total is underestimated. Take the time to accurately calculate the total cost of your contents.

Most insurance providers increase their level of cover during the Christmas period to protect any extra contents you may have in the home. The increase in cover at this time isn’t automatically applied by every insurer so if it’s something you care about, it’s best to check your policy to make sure you have the cover you need.

What optional extras are available?

There are a number of optional extras you can bolt on to your policy for an additional fee that will increase cover for your home. These include:

Home emergency cover could give you protection against a number of unexpected incidents, such as burst pipes or your boiler breaking down.

Legal cover or family protection cover is designed to cover costs and expenses in the event of certain legal disputes. Some insurance providers may include this as standard but it's always worth checking. It's important to work out if you need additional cover - but be careful not to waste money by doubling up on insurance.

Away-from-home cover can be used to cover your possessions against loss and theft while you're away from home. This can include things you carry with you every day, such as jewellery, watches, handbags, laptops and mobile phones. 

Accidental damage cover could help for one-off accidental events, such as spilling something on your sofa, smashing a television or dropping an antique vase.

Once you get a quote we'll show you details of the policies available to you, including whether these extras are included or if there's a cost to add them to the policy.

Compare home insurance quotes from up to 65 insurance companies

What our home insurance expert says

Try to be as accurate as possible when you estimate the value of your personal belongings. If you have family heirlooms or expensive jewellery, you’ll want to make sure they’re insured. You can add high value item cover for items worth more than £1,000 each when you get a contents insurance quote. You can’t replace the sentimental value of some things, but you can replace the financial loss.
Jessica Willock home insurance expert signature

Jessica Willock

Home insurance product manager

Need more help?

What should I include in my contents cover?

As a rule of thumb, anything you’d take with you if you moved house should be included on your contents policy – including items like curtains and carpets. It’s worth taking the time to go around your house from room to room and put a reasonable value on everything. It’s easy to underestimate the value of your contents, but it’s important to make sure you’re not under-insured.

Do I need home insurance if I rent?

As the owner, your landlord will usually be responsible for the general maintenance of the building, so it’s down to them to ensure their property is protected with buildings insurance.

But you’re responsible for any contents inside that you own. If anything were to happen to your possessions, you would have to pay for replacements if you didn't have contents insurance.

Does contents insurance cover my tech?

Smartphones, laptops and gaming consoles will all be covered by your contents insurance. You will need to add a laptop or items worth over £1,000 to your home insurance quote to ensure cover in the home. However, for anything you use while you are out and about you will need away-from-home cover. You might also consider specialist gadget insurance if you have a lot of gear.

Are my garage, garden and shed covered?

Lots of policies will cover your garden and outbuildings but not all do so it’s important to check before you buy. If you have a lot of gear stored outside it’s important to check how much cover is included too as levels vary substantially between insurers.

Do I need to provide proof of ownership?

It’s always a good idea to keep receipts if you can and take photos of high value items. This will help if you are claiming for theft.

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