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How to spot a great contents insurance policy

Posted 04 February 2016

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Looking for a great contents insurance deal? Our guide can help.

If you’ve read our two previous blogs, you’re well on your way to getting a cracking content’s insurance deal. Today’s blog is the final instalment, and it’ll help you identity the great contents insurance policies from those not really worth the paper they’re written on.

But before that, let’s go back to what we’ve been talking about in the last few days, for a minute. Here’s a story that’s appeared recently in the press detailing that, apparently, one in five house contents insurance claims is rejected because people are claiming for normal wear and tear or the items need replacing because of a lack of maintenance. Neither of these scenarios will result in your insurer paying out.

There were also a number of claims rejected because the value of the items claimed for was less than the excess amount. And people also tried to claim for things like accidental damage, thinking it would be covered in the policy, not realising that it was an add-on, not part of the standard insurance cover.




So, what this tells us is you need to be really vigilant when you’re buying insurance and do the following three things:

1. When your policy documents arrive, check everything you want covered is on there and that any add-ons you want are included. Also check all your other details, as a mistake with your address, could potentially lead to your insurer to not pay out. So if you notice something wrong, make sure you call your insurer as soon as you realise.

2. If you think you need to make a claim, check your policy beforehand, especially if you’re in any doubt. And, if that still doesn’t answer your question, it’s best to give your insurer a call.      

3. Look at the damage and decide if it’s been caused by your lack of maintenance, or normal wear and tear. If it is, you won’t be able to claim.

If you do points two and three before making any claims, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time and trouble.

Right, let’s crack on to how you can find a great contents policy.


Three little things

So you’re all ready to go, you’ve got your contents valuation, you’ve done all you can to bring down the cost of your policy premium and you’ve been presented with a list of matching suitable policies. What now? Do you think you’d be able to tell which of these policies gave you the best value for money? Do you even know what a great contents policy should contain? If you don’t, read on.

Let’s start with what your policy needs to have, then we’ll move on to those things that it should have to make it a viable option for you, and we’ll finish off with what it’d be really nice to have too.   

However, before we go on, we want to make it clear that we are not offering advice here – what we’re covering is for information purposes only. And there’s a very good reason for that – we don’t know what you need. 

What we are offering you is some idea about what kinds of clauses a good contents policy should contain. So, we’re are not going to talk about any values, as your circumstances will dictate how much you feel you need for each clause to cover the value of what you own. And, some of these clauses will apply to you, other won’t. For example, contents in the open, might not be much use to you, as you’ll probably not have anything in the open.  

Finally, you should always make sure that you check the amounts given for each clause, so that you have a policy that covers the true cost of the contents of your home.     

The ‘needed’ clauses

·         it really needs to have, to make it fit for purpose – by this we mean to make it useful if anything nasty ever happens. After all, you’d hate for something to happen, like a flood, and you try to make a claim, only to find that you can’t. That would be devastating, especially as you’d been making your premium payments each month or year.


·Clause                                                            Value (or more)


Single valuable item limit

Check the value of this clause, it’ll be stated on the policy and make sure it is enough to cover you – for example if you have a valuable piece of jewellery.

Total valuables

Make sure this covers the total valuables you have in your home. It’ll be detailed in the policy terms and conditions.  

Freezer contents

If the damage is caused by something your electricity provider did, it won’t be covered

Money in the home

This is for cash only, credit cards are dealt with separately. If you keep large amounts of cash in your home, this could be a good addition.


Theft from outbuildings

If you have a shed or garage you may want to cover the contents in them for theft and loss. If you’ve been away from your home for an extended period any loss and damage occurring during this time may be excluded.

Contents in the open

If you have a garden or other outside space with things in it, like a barbeque or garden furniture, this clause would cover it.  It does not, however, cover plants or shrubs.



Personal liability

This is for those times when you may be held responsible for damage to someone else’s property or for injuring them as well. For example if you employ a cleaner who trips and falls in your home and claims against you.


Tenant’s Liablity

Obviously you’ll only need this if you are a tenant. It’ll cover you against any damage you may do to the landlord’s property.

Policy excesses

Check the excess amount and make sure that you’re happy with it. Also check whether there’s an extra accidental damage excess. You can usually increase the excess, if you want to lower the cost of your premium.




The 'should have' clauses

  It really should have, to make it worthwhile – these are things it’d be really great to have in your policy.



Accidental damage

Any good policy should have this as an add-on for you. Either that, or it’s already included in the policy.


Loss of water

This add-on is only useful if you have a water meter. It allows you to claim back what you’ve lost, if you happen to suffer a water leak. However, this can also be claimed back from your water company too, on one occasion. So, it would only be useful if you already claimed an amount for a leak back from your water supplier.  


Alternative accommodation

If you think you would need alternative accommodation if something drastic, like a flood happened, this would be a useful add on.


Emergency repairs 24hour hotline

Obviously very useful if something happens in the middle of the night, like your water pipes burst, and you need help. 

Personal possessions

A useful add-on if you take your property outside of the home on a regular basis. You’d need to make sure you know how many days the cover will last for, as some policies will put a limit on.


Legal expenses

If you’re worried about how you’d pay if you ever needed the legal help, this could be a useful addition to your policy. It’ll cover you for any costs relating to legal processes by you or against you.


Repairs guaranteed

This is only useful if you’re happy to use the repairer supplied by your insurer. If you choose someone yourself, the repairs are not covered.



Index-linked sum insured

This clause links the amount of cover you have to the cost of inflation each year, so you don’t have to recalculate it each year.

Special events insurance

This is for those times when you may have a higher number of valuable goods in your home, like at Christmas or on special birthdays. 






The’ it’d be nice to have’ clauses

 It’d be really nice to have, as added extras – these are not essential or even needed, but they would make really nice additions.



Loss or theft of keys

This is usually a standard clause for most policies and should cover the cost of replacing the locks. Check if the clause specifies whether they’ll pay out if only one set of keys is stolen or lost, or if it has to be all the sets. Also worth noting that some policies will only pay out if the person who took them knows your address.

Business equipment

If you work from home, you may have equipment that you use specifically for that purpose, you might want to think about adding on a clause to cover that property from damage or theft. However, any stock you have for your business will not usually be covered.


Plants in garden

If you have lots of high value plants in your garden, this might be something you would find comforting.  However, as with all insurance, you cannot claim if your plant dies simply because you failed to water them!




Phew – we know it can seem like a lot to take in, but if you have this open, or print it off while you’re looking at the policies being presented to you, you can go though it clause by clause. And you’ll usually find that, like with most contracts, the policy will be laid out in the same way, with the same kinds of clauses included, which should make comparisons a little easier. And that, as they say, is that – our mini-series in contents insurance is finished. 







by Shelley Bowers

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