Contents insurance

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Contents insurance includes everything in the home belonging to the policyholder, their family and other residents of the home. It also includes other property for which the policyholder is responsible, for example a rented television.

Generally everything which is not permanently fixed within the building is covered. Furniture, furnishings, carpets (including fitted carpets), curtains, electrical goods, household goods and clothes are all examples of 'contents'.

What risks are covered?

Insurance policies cover the contents against certain risks which may vary from one insurer to another. In general terms the risks covered will include:

  • Fire, explosion, lightning, earthquake.
  • Riot, strike, labour disturbance, civil commotion and malicious acts by persons.
  • Impact or collision by aircraft or other aerial devices.
  • Storm or flood and falling trees.
  • Theft or attempted theft.
  • Escape of oil or water, for example from a washing machine or central heating system.
  • Mirrors, fixed glass in furniture and television sets.
  • Professional fees & certain other costs, for example architect's and surveyor's fees incurred during repairs.
  • Cost of alternative accommodation if your home is made uninhabitable because of the extent of the damage to contents.
  • Your legal liability as an occupier.

Contents insurance - what is NOT covered?

Contents insurance policies will have exclusions which are risks that the insurer is not prepared to accept. In general they will include:

  • Cars, motorbikes, caravans and trailers.
  • Livestock and pets.
  • Damage caused by escape of water or oil, or malicious damage, if the property is left unoccupied for longer than a certain length of time.
  • Theft of any contents if the home is lent, let or sublet (unless there is a break in).
  • Mechanical or electrical breakdown.
  • Damage caused by war, civil war, rebellion or revolution.
  • Damage caused by sonic booms or radioactive contamination.

Once again, in every case the insurer will provide an exact definition in the policy wording.

Personal possessions

It's common with contents insurance to offer additional cover as an option to the customer, allowing you to insure certain property both in and out of the home.

Items such as jewellery, furs, cameras and musical instruments can be covered against any type of accidental loss or damage inside or outside the home. Without this extension to your insurance policy you would not be able to make a claim if you lost or had an item stolen whilst outside your home.

Getting started with contents insurance

You have to make sure that you cover all the contents in your house. The best way to start is make a checklist room by room. Go through each room and write down all of the objects, furniture and valuables in each room.

Next consider the value of each item and write them down on the list. Total these values up per room to give a value of the contents to be insured in each room. Add all the rooms together for the total value of contents to be insured but don't forget garages, sheds and external buildings.

Make sure you are accurate with your valuations. Although lower contents values will decrease your premium, in the event of a claim you would be underinsured and would not be able to replace some of your items.

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