What is contents insurance?

Contents insurance covers everything you’d take with you if you moved home, including your furniture, kitchen appliances, curtains, bedding, clothing, television, computing equipment and jewellery.¹  

However, it doesn’t cover the structure of your home (e.g. the roof, walls and windows) and any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchen units and bathroom suites. These will be covered by buildings insurance.

What does contents insurance cover?

Home and contents insurance protects you against damage caused by:

  • weather such as storms and lightning

  • flooding

  • burst or frozen pipes and water damage

  • fire or explosion

  • subsidence

  • theft and vandalism

Most insurers also provide the following add-ons for an extra premium: 

  • accidental damage

  • cover away from your home (also known as personal possessions cover)

  • legal expenses cover

  • home emergency assistance

What doesn’t contents insurance cover?

Contents insurance covers a wide range of risks, but it doesn’t cover everything. Events and risks that aren’t covered are known as “exclusions”.

Exclusions will vary between policies, but you won’t usually be covered against: 

  • general wear and tear

  • mechanical or electrical breakdown, such as an oven breaking down

  • homes left unattended for a long time (normally 30 days but some policies go up to 90 days)

  • any amount over the limits specified in the policy 

  • theft by someone who lives in your home or who you have invited into your home

You should compare contents insurance to check what is covered, as well as the price.

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How does contents insurance work?

When you buy an annual contents insurance policy you’ll pay for it in one lump sum or by monthly instalments. The policy will protect your possessions up to a stated limit against certain risks and events.

If you make a claim, the insurer will either pay you a sum of money to replace a lost or damaged item, or replace or fix the item for you.

How to get contents insurance

Companies such as banks, building societies and insurance firms, as well as price comparison sites, will all be able to give you a contents insurance quote.

You can buy contents insurance as a standalone policy, or as part of a combined policy including buildings and contents insurance. You should compare contents insurance or building and contents insurance quotes from different companies to get the best deal.

Some companies offer specialised student contents insurance or tenants contents insurance.

Do I need home contents insurance?

House contents insurance isn’t compulsory. However, it’s a good idea to take out this type of cover to protect your possessions against fire, theft and other risks. Without insurance, if something happens to destroy or damage your possessions, it can cost a lot of money to replace them.

If you’re a tenant, your landlord will be responsible for buildings insurance, but it’s up to you to buy your own contents insurance. 

If you live in a leasehold flat, your freeholder should arrange buildings insurance but you’ll need to buy your own contents insurance.

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How much is contents insurance?

The average annual cost of contents insurance is around £127, which is about £2.40 per week.²

When you apply for a contents insurance quote the insurer will ask you for information about your property and your possessions, and then use this information to calculate a premium.

When you apply for a quote, the insurer will ask questions about:

  • the total value of your possessions

  • where you live and who lives in your home

  • your previous claims history 

  • security measures in your home

Who offers contents insurance?

There are several places you can look to get contents cover. As no two insurers are the same, it’s worth doing some research into who offers the kind of cover that suits you and your needs.

Some insurers are: 

  • Aviva

  • Direct Line

  • Admiral

  • Halifax

  • Barclays

How much contents insurance do I need?

To get a contents insurance quote you’ll need to know what your belongings are worth. To do this, go from room to room in your home and write down how much each item is worth. If you’re not sure how much it would cost to replace a particular item, use the internet to find out its value.

Don’t forget things like clothes and bedding. Some insurers will ask you to separately list items worth more than £1,000. The total value of your contents is known as the “sum insured”. It’s important not to under-insure your possessions as this will affect any claim your make.

Most insurers impose a single item limit ­– the maximum amount they will pay for any individual item regardless of its value.³ As an example, if your insurer’s single item limit is £1,500 and a necklace worth £2,500 is stolen from your home, your insurer will only pay out £1,500 if you make a claim.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between home insurance and contents insurance?

Home insurance normally means buildings insurance or contents insurance, or a joint policy covering both. 

Contents insurance just covers your possessions, not the structure of your home.

Do you need contents insurance if you rent?

It’s not mandatory to have contents insurance if you’re a tenant, but it’s worth having. Any insurance your landlord holds will just cover the building, not your possessions.

What is landlord contents insurance?

Landlord contents insurance covers the cost of repair or replacement of the furniture and appliances that a landlord provides in a property. These items might include beds, sofas and dining tables, curtains, carpets and freestanding white goods.

What is a contents insurance excess?

The excess on an insurance policy is the amount you have to pay towards any claim. In general cheap contents insurance will have a higher excess.

Does contents insurance cover accidental damage?

“Accidental damage” means damage that occurs suddenly as a result of an unexpected and non-deliberate external action. Some home contents insurance includes this as standard, but other policies will charge an extra premium for this cover.

Does contents insurance cover fixtures and fittings?

Contents insurance doesn’t cover fixtures and fittings – these will be covered by buildings insurance.

Does contents insurance cover boilers?

Boiler repairs aren’t normally included as standard on a contents insurance policy. Home emergency insurance or boiler insurance is needed to cover boiler repairs.

Does contents insurance cover fire?

Yes, contents insurance will cover your possessions if there’s a fire at your home. But it won’t cover damage to the building itself.

Does home contents insurance cover mobile phones?

Standard contents policies will cover your mobile phone the same as any other item in the home. 

However, if you want your phone to be covered when you’re out and about, you’ll need to check your policy includes “personal possessions” cover.

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