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Personal possessions cover with car insurance

Keep your belongings safe when they’re in your car and see if you need personal possessions cover.

Alice Lloyd
Alice Lloyd
Updated 27 September 2021  | 4 min read

Does car insurance cover personal belongings?

Most comprehensive car insurance policies include cover for your personal items when you leave them in the car.

Out of 363 comprehensive car insurance policies on Defaqto, 94% covered personal belongings as standard.[1]

Key points

  • Personal possessions cover insures your belongings when they’re left in your car
  • Comprehensive policies often include personal possessions cover; third party, fire and theft policies usually don’t
  • Cover limits can be low, but you can take personal possession cover out with your home insurance for greater protection

It’s a different story with third party, fire and theft policies though – just 16% of 187 policies included personal possessions cover as standard and most won’t let you add it as an optional extra either.[1]

 

How much personal possessions cover is included in car insurance?

Even if you do have cover, take care not to leave valuable items in your car – of the comprehensive policies that did include personal possession cover as standard, just 16% covered possessions worth £400 or more.

Most policies had a much lower level of cover, with 50% having up to £250.[1]

 

When do most thefts from cars happen?

According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data[2] 81% of incidents happened in the evening or night – and the vast majority (45%) of those between midnight and 6am – compared to just 19% in the day.

Most thefts from vehicles (73%) happened during the week, in the early hours of the morning. This is likely a prime time for potential thieves because it’s dark and quiet, as most people will be at home, sleeping. 

How do car break-ins happen?

It’s best not to leave your car unlocked while unattended – even for a short time – as it’s the most common way for thieves to break into your car. 

Leaving your vehicle’s door unlocked can be viewed as negligent by insurers, and some might not pay out for claims because of it. 

How break-ins happened Percentage of incidents[2]
Door was not locked 47
Offender broke window / tried to (attempts) 19
Offender forced lock / tried to (attempts) 13
Offender manipulated signal from remote locking device(3) 12
Offender used a key/electric fob 7
Window was left open 1
Offender forced / broke / bent / prised door 1
Other 2

With more cars having keyless entry, manipulating the signal from the locking device (relay theft) is becoming more common, contributing to 12% of car break-ins.

What items are stolen from cars?

Unsurprisingly, the most common stolen possessions from cars were valuables, including wallets, handbags, credit cards and jewellery. 

As most thefts happened during the night, this could indicate that many people keep important possessions in the car overnight. Some insurers won’t cover possessions left in plain view – for example, you’ve forgotten your wallet on the front passenger seat – and there are usually limits on the value of items covered. 

Exterior fittings, like bits of trim, hubcaps and badges were the second most commonly stolen items, likely due to the ease of plucking them off the car. 

Items stolen Percentage of incidents[2]
Valuables (3) 39
Exterior fittings 19
Electrical equipment (4) 13
Tools 10
Other vehicle parts 8
Glasses / sunglasses / spectacles 7
Food / toiletries / cigarettes 5
Various household items / gadgets 5
CDs / tapes / videos / DVDs 4
Mobile phone 3
Wheels 2
Car radio 2
House keys 1
Camera 1
Fuel 1
Car keys 0
Bicycle(5) 0
Garden furniture 0
Other (non-vehicle parts) 8

Tools were stolen in 10% of thefts, so if you use your car for work and keep tools in it, make sure you have the right car insurance for business use.

Thieves also seemed to target high-value and easy to sell items, like electrical equipment, including sat navs and laptops.

 

Cover for sat-navs and car stereos

The good news is that in-car electronics like sat-navs and stereos usually have separate cover on car insurance. When we checked, 96% of comprehensive policies included cover for factory-fitted audio equipment and sat-nav systems.

For separate stereos and sat-navs, 91% of the policies included cover for audio equipment and 85% for sat-navs.[1]

 

Exclusions from personal possessions cover

Even if your car insurance policy does include cover for your possessions left in the car, exclusions are common. Look out for:

Tips to keep your possessions safe

  • Don’t leave anything on show

Even in a locked vehicle use gloveboxes, door pockets and the boot

  • Empty your car if you’re going away

Open the glove box and remove your boot cover to show there’s nothing to steal

  • Clear out your car regularly

Avoid a build-up of things like clothing, tools and electronics

 

Cover possessions in your car with home insurance

Personal possessions cover can have so many exclusions that it might be worth looking at your home contents insurance for better cover.

Insurance for personal possessions outside the home can be added as an optional extra on your contents insurance, and allows you to specify cover for more expensive items like laptops or jewellery.

 

Excess and future premiums

When you make a claim for the loss of personal possessions under your car or home insurance you’ll probably have to pay an excess towards your claim.

You could also lose your no-claims bonus and your future premiums might be more expensive.

Because of this, if the items are low value, you might be better off covering the cost yourself.

 

What to do if my car contents are stolen?

If you notice your car has been damaged and things are missing, then call your local police on the non-emergency number, 101.

If you actually catch someone trying to break into your car, call 999 for an emergency response.

In either case, you’ll need a crime reference number from the police to give to your insurance company to start a claim.

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[1]Last checked 3 June 2021

[2]ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) data for April 2019 to March 2020

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