Contents Insurance Guide

How to insure possessions inside your home

Young family of four sat their living room floor surrounded by brown boxes filled with their belongings

Everyone has those key things in their home that are important to them – a super-comfy sofa, musical instruments, computers, etc. The list goes on. So it’s only natural that you’d want to protect those things against damage or being stolen – which is where contents insurance comes in.

What is contents insurance?


Contents insurance covers the possessions inside your home against damage, destruction and theft, meaning that you can get financial help toward replacing them or can let you replace them outright.

You can usually define what counts as your contents as anything you would take with you if you moved home, so you can include a large variety of things within a contents insurance policy.

Usually, contents insurance is combined with buildings insurances to form the basis of your home insurance, covering both the items inside your home and the structure itself.

Who is contents insurance for?


Contents insurance can be picked up by both homeowners and renters, . Homeowners will likely need both contents and buildings insurance which can come as part of a combined insurance policy to save on premiums.

People who are renting their home will only usually need contents insurance as the building will be insured by the landlord or management company. Your possessions are entirely your own responsibility, so having a contents insurance policy in place can help avoid costly incidents.

What are the different types of contents insurance policies?


When choosing the right policy for you, there are three main types of contents insurance policy available you will need to consider:


  • Bedroom rated which works out the rough amount of contents cover you would need based on the number of bedrooms your property has, removing the need to work out exactly how much you need to insure your contents before
  • Sum insured which relies on you working out an accurate estimate of how much your contents are worth, usually split between different items categories
  • Unlimited sum insured which provides cover for all your contents without a specific limit, removing the risk of your contents being underinsured and you missing out on replacement costs for key items


You will also need to choose what type of cover you want for your items, which can affect how much premium you will pay for your policy:


  • New for Old that pays out the cost of replacing a stolen or damaged item with a brand new equivalent
  • Indemnity Cover that will pay out the current value of a stolen or damaged item, taking into account the depreciation and should allow you to get a like-for-like replacement

How much cover do I need for contents insurance?


You should make sure that you’re getting an amount of coverage which matches the cost to replace all of your important belongings. At the end of the day, you will need to decide how much contents insurance cover feels right for you.

Underestimating your contents insurance cover can result in you losing out if you do have to make a claim. This is because you won’t have enough contents cover to replace everything in your home, so a big claim could see a provider pay out the maximum your policy allows which wouldn’t be enough to cover replacing everything.

However, overestimating your contents insurance amount could mean you have to pay higher premiums for no real reason. This is why calculating a rough average of how much your belongings cost can be very useful when working out how much cover you need for contents insurance.

Insuring valuable items and gadgets

There are two specific categories of contents you will be asked about when taking out a contents insurance policy – ‘valuables’ and technology, such as mobiles, laptops and other portable devices. This is because there are different considerations that are required for insuring these items.

Each provider will probably have a different definition of what a valuable item is, so be sure to check this when considering how much cover you will need for this area. This includes checking the ‘single article limit’, which is the maximum an provider will pay out for a single item. So if you have a specific piece of jewellery which exceeds this limit, you will need to tell your provider. This might result in a higher premium, but it will ensure that the specific item is covered by your policy.

Some providers will ask you about coverage for items which you take out of the home, such as mobile phones, laptops and other portable devices. This coverage can vary around what is factored into the cost of replacement, such as digital downloads or files which you have saved, so it’s important to check this if you feel it has significant importance to you.

What additional cover options are there for contents insurance?


As with most insurance policies, there are optional extras for contents insurance you can choose to add to your policy that can widen the scope of things that contents are protected for, as well as including more items from your home. These can include:


  • Additional accidental damage which gives you increased cover against damage caused by young children, pets and general everyday incidents
  • Bicycles which can provide extra protection if your bike is stolen when securely locked away, including any accessories taken with your bike
  • Frozen food cover if a power cut or damage to your freezer means you have to throw away the frozen food inside
  • Alternative accommodation if the damage sustained to your home means you need to move out temporarily while things are resolved
  • Legal expenses that can help cover the mounting costs if a legal dispute occurs as a result of possessions being stolen or damaged, although what’s covered does vary from policy to policy

Key things to remember for home contents insurance


Make sure to properly estimate the value of your possessions so everything is properly covered

Check the excess of different things within your claim, as this is the initial amount you will need to front when replacing certain items and it will vary from policy to policy

Some policies might allow providers to replace items rather than provide you with the money to find a replacement yourself

Keep your policy up-to-date with any new key purchases which you want to be factored into your contents insurance

Comparing contents insurance quotes will help you understand what kind of policies you can get and what your premiums will roughly be

Check each policy carefully when comparing to ensure you’re getting the coverage you want and if any additional features are included as standard

Top Home Insurance FAQs:

Do I need Home Insurance?

Neither buildings insurance nor contents insurance are actually legally required so, technically, no you don’t need them. However, some mortgage providers will require you to have at least buildings insurance before lending you money to make sure that their loan is protected and, without home insurance, you run the risk of being responsible for the full cost of any repairs your home needs after a serious incident like a fire.

Especially if you own your home, getting home insurance is a sensible decision to make sure you’re not caught out unprotected in the event of a disaster.

Is theft covered by Home Insurance?

This will vary from provider to provider but, generally, theft of your belongings will be covered by contents insurance. Following the general rule that contents insurance is to cover your possessions while buildings insurance insures you for damage to the structure of your home, standalone buildings insurance typically won’t include coverage for theft.

What does accidental damage mean?

Again, the definition of accidental damage varies depending on who you choose to take a home insurance policy with. In most cases, however, accidental damage cover will protect you against damage that’s caused suddenly by non-deliberate actions. This could include knocking over a glass of wine and ruining your carpet, drilling into your wall and hitting a pipe, or even a toddler bumping into your TV and causing it to topple and break.

Will I need a credit check?

If you choose to pay for your home insurance policy in monthly instalments over the course of the year, it’s likely that a credit check will be necessary to make sure you can pay the full sum back. This will usually be a soft credit check, however, which won’t leave a record on your credit history. When you buy annually, credit checks generally aren’t required.