How to calculate your home contents
Household contents insurance offers cover for your belongings such as furniture, carpets, clothes and music – the items that you could pack up and take with you if you ever decided to move. When you apply for contents insurance you will be asked how much cover you need, and the amount you choose should reflect the total cost of replacing all your home contents.
This doesn't include the structural 'bricks and mortar' parts of your home such as the walls or ceilings, because these must be covered by buildings insurance.
The risk of under-insuring
Home owners tend to underestimate the value of their belongings, and end up under-insuring. This is dangerous because it could result in claims being severely underpaid. If you’re insured for £8,000, for example, but actually have £16,000 worth of possessions, and burglars steal £2,000 worth, the insurer could assess your property and only pay out in proportion to your cover -- meaning you get just £1,000 back.
To work out how much it would cost to replace all of our possessions – if they were stolen in a burglary, for example, or destroyed by fire or floods – you need to create a detailed inventory, listing and pricing up items in every room of your house.
- Lounge: Tot up the total value of furniture such as your sofas and armchairs, bookcases, and TV stands. Add on the total value of your soft furnishings such as carpet and curtains. Then think about any electronic items such as the TV, DVD player, hi-fi, or computer games consoles – plus all the CDs, DVDs and games that go with them. You may also have some artwork or ornaments to include.
- Dining room: Again, if you have a dining room or area you are likely to have furniture such as a dining table and chairs, and possibly a Welsh dresser or cabinet and all its contents, as well as soft furnishings.
- Kitchen and utility room: Several high value items usually reside in the kitchen or utility room, such as your cooker, fridge freezer, washing machine and dishwasher – plus the microwave, kettle and toaster. You will need to include any non-fitted furniture as well as blinds, kitchenware, crockery and even the value of any frozen food.
- Bedrooms: You may store valuable items such as jewellery and family heirlooms in your bedroom, and should check the upper limit on your insurance policy to ensure it offers adequate cover for these more expensive items. Some policies place an upper limit on how much you can claim per individual item, so you may need separate insurance at extra cost to protect high value items. List and price up any electronic equipment such as TVs, laptops and iPods, as well as the main items of furniture, soft furnishings, clothes and shoes.
- Bathroom: You'll also need to work out the cost of any bathroom furniture such as towel cabinets, and even any expensive toiletries.
- Study: If you have a separate study, it probably contains IT equipment. List everything you would need to replace, including computers, books and stationery, and tot up the costs.
- Outdoors: If you own garden furniture and equipment such as a lawnmower, or keep bikes and other belongings outside or in a shed or garage, make sure you include those items as well.