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Contents insurance – what does a good policy look like?

Having trouble figuring out which features to look out for in a home contents insurance policy? Use these tables to check which are a ‘must have’, a ‘should have’ or a ‘could have’ to help you buy the right policy.

‘Must have’ features

Features that a good policy will give
‘Must have’ features
A good policy will give

Valuables in total

Items of particular value (such as jewellery, watches gold or silver, works of art, cameras, TVs and computers) will be covered for loss or damage, if you have to make a claim.

£12,000 or more
Usually, there’s an overall limit on the amount your insurance company will pay for ‘high-risk items’. These are usually items such as jewellery, pieces of art, watches and laptops.

Valuables - single item limit

This is a limit on the value of any one valuable item (such as a piece of jewellery or a painting).

£1,500 or more
If you have any high-risk items worth more than this, you’ll need to insure it separately or you risk 

Money in the home

This will cover any cash that you keep at home against theft or damage.

£500 or more
Credit cards aren’t covered – cover for these is separate.

Freezer contents

If your fridge or freezer fails or breaks down and food is spoiled, this covers you for the costs of replacing the contents.

£300 or more
Loss or damage caused by a deliberate act by your electricity provider (or its employees) isn’t covered.

Contents in the open

Provides cover for loss or damage to contents left outside but within the boundaries of your home. We recommend taking out separate insurance for items such as garden furniture and ornaments.

£500 or more
Plants or shrubs aren’t covered.

Theft from outbuildings

Covers contents kept in a garage or outbuilding.

£2,000 or more
Loss or damage if your home has been unoccupied for a stated period of time will often not be covered.

Personal liability

Covers any amounts you might legally have to pay in the event of a claim made against you for accidental injury to someone or loss or damage to their property.

£2 million

Tenants’ liability (if you’re a tenant)

If you’re a tenant, this covers you against any legal responsibility for loss or damage to the landlord’s fixtures and fittings.

£10,000 or more

‘Should have’ features

Features that a good policy will give
‘Should have’ features
A good policy will give

Accidental damage

Covers you against the cost of accidents that might damage the contents of your home.

The choice of adding it to your policy or including it as standard
Damage by pets isn’t usually covered.

Loss of water

If you suffer an accidental leak, this will cover the cost of the metered water you have lost as a result.

£1,000 or more
Cover isn’t always included as standard, so you might have to pay an extra premium to include it.

Index-linked sum insured (sum insured protection)

The cost of replacing your contents on a ‘new for old’ basis rises each year with inflation. Protecting your sum insured means you won’t be left underinsured.

Index linking or a high fixed sum insured of £50,000 or more
But if the amount of cover you choose isn’t enough to replace your contents on a ‘new for old’ basis, your insurance company might not pay the full amount of any claim you make.

Special events increase

During certain special events, such as Christmas or a wedding, you’re likely to have more contents within your home than usual. Where special events cover is in place, the insurer will automatically increase your contents sum insured

Cover for at least Christmas or other religious events, with typical limits of £3,000 or £10% of contents sum insured.

Personal possessions

Provides cover for your personal possessions while they’re outside the home.

The choice of adding it to your policy or including it as standard
Check whether the policy applies a limit to the number of days when cover is provided within the policy year.

Legal expenses

If you have personal legal problems arising from property or employment disputes or bodily injury claims, for example, this covers your legal expenses.

The choice of adding it to your policy or including it as standard
Your insurance company won’t pay any legal costs that they haven’t agreed in advance.

Repairs guaranteed

The insurance company guarantees any repairs to your contents.

A guarantee on all work
Repairs carried out by someone you choose to do the work wouldn’t be covered.

Emergency repairs helpline

Provides you with a 24-hour helpline that you can call in an emergency.

24-hour emergency helpline

‘Could have’ features

Features that a good policy will give
‘Could have’ features
A good policy will give

Plants in garden

Covers you for loss or damage caused by perils listed (such as fire, malicious acts or theft) to plants, trees, shrubs and lawns.

Single – £500 or more
Loss or damage to trees, shrubs, plants or lawns dying naturally or because you haven’t looked after them properly won’t be covered.

Loss or theft of keys

If you were to lose your keys or have them stolen, this will cover the cost of replacing the locks.

Cover as standard
Some insurers will only pay for this if you lose all sets of keys, or if the person who stole them knows where you live.

Business equipment

Provides cover for your office equipment used in connection with your job. For example, computers, printers and furniture. If you work from home, it’s a good idea to tell your insurer, so they can make sure you have the appropriate level of cover.

£3,000 or more
Business stock or materials wouldn’t usually be covered.

Things to watch out for

What a good policy will watch out for
Things to watch out for
A good policy will give

Contents excess

An amount of money you have to pay towards any claim.

A standard excess less than £100
Insurance companies often let you choose a higher excess in return for a lower premium. If you choose a higher excess, you’ll have to pay more for every claim.

Accidental damage excess

If you have accidental damage cover this is an extra excess you have to pay towards those sorts of claims.

No extra excess

More information

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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