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Home insurance is made of contents insurance, buildings insurance, or both. Contents insurance protects your possessions. It'll pay out to replace your household items if they're stolen, or damaged by an event like a fire or a flood.
Contents insurance is different to buildings insurance, which only protects the structure of your home. Buildings insurance doesn't cover the contents inside.
You can buy contents insurance as an individual policy, or with buildings insurance as a combined policy.
The items you’d take with you when you move to a new house are usually covered by contents insurance. Any single item worth more than £1,000 probably won’t be covered unless you list it separately on your policy.
Cover may vary, but many contents insurance policies include cover for:
Items such as sofas, beds, cabinets, tables and chairs. It’ll also cover any soft furnishings, lamps, art and ornaments too.
TVs and laptops are some of the most expensive items we own, so it’s important to get them covered.
Kitchen appliances like washing machines and fridge freezers are covered for damage, theft or loss. They won’t be covered for mechanical breakdown or wear and tear, though.
If your clothes or jewellery are lost in an event like a fire or flood, or they’re stolen, contents insurance will cover the cost of replacing them. Again, wear and tear isn’t covered.
Many insurers cover items stored in a garden, shed or garage if they’re within the boundary of your property. You’ll still need to make sure they’re stored safely, for example by padlocking your shed.
Covers the cost of temporary accommodation if your home becomes uninhabitable.
Covers home office equipment like computers and printers. Business stock isn’t usually covered.
Cash kept in your home will often be covered for theft or damage up to limit, usually of around £500. Some policies also cover fraudulent use of your credit cards if they’re stolen from your home.
If your fridge or freezer breaks down, the costs of replacing the contents inside are covered.
Limited cover for the replacement of digital information following loss or damage to laptops or phones.
When you’re looking for quotes with us, we’ll ask for details about your home and your possessions including:
Estimate the total value of the items in your home. Remember to include the contents in your attic, garden, garage, shed and freezer.
Details about any individual items worth around £1,000 or more that you want to cover. The value of items needing individual cover varies from one insurer to another and can be quite a lot lower for things like laptops or bicycles.
Whether you want cover for accidental damage and away from home cover for items like mobiles, bicycles and laptops.
Details of any home insurance claims made in the last five years
The type of property you live in, what it’s made of and the types of locks and alarms installed.
Your name, address, who you live and when you’re usually home.
Your premium could cost as little as £50 a year. 
But we found that the average price people people paid for contents-only cover is just over £78 a year.*
Insurers calculate your home insurance premium based on many risk factors that determine how likely you are to claim.
How much you'll actually pay will depend on your own circumstances. Things like the value of your items, previous claims and your location all affect the price of your contents insurance.
25% of customers were quoted annual contents only insurance premiums of £50.50 or less with GoCompare (1 Jun 2020 to 30 Sep 2020)
There are always things you can do to keep your premiums down:
Monthly payment plans have added interest which raises the price of your policy.
Those who renew with their current insurer, almost always pay more for their insurance than those who switch.
Use a contents calculator to figure out how much you need to insure your stuff for.
Burglar alarms, the right locks and safes can all help.
Renewal, adjustment and cancellation fees can all drive up the overall cost your insurance.
Covid-19 and contents insurance: Don’t get complacent with your cover
“With people staying at home to stop the spread of coronavirus, some might think they don’t need insurance against theft because their home isn’t left unoccupied, nor are they out and about with their possessions.”
“While the risk of theft may be reduced, more time spent at home increases other risks such as accidental damage to property. So, it’s important to take time to consider how you would afford to replace your belongings or repair damage to your property if you were faced with a household disaster.”Lee Griffin – Founder and CEO of GoCompare
Contents insurance covers your possessions from unexpected damages that aren’t caused by negligence. Most policies include cover for damage or loss by:
You should always check your policy's terms and conditions. You’ll find full details of what’s covered and the exclusions.
It doesn’t usually cover damage due to general wear and tear, faulty workmanship, or pets. It won’t cover damage that happens while your home is unoccupied for over 30 consecutive days either.
Your insurer will want to know the cost of replacing the entire contents of your home as new. That figure is for something catastrophic happening – like a fire or flood.
It can feel a bit overwhelming having to put a price on everything you own. To help you work it out, on average, households in the UK have £35,000 worth of possessions, according to the Money Advice Service.
Most insurers will offer you around £40,000 as a starting point. If you think you need more than this, you can increase it. It’ll probably increase your premium prices though, so make sure you don’t over-insure yourself.
If you need to, you can use our contents calculator. It’ll help you look out for items you might’ve missed.
For anything worth more than £1,000, you’ll need to leave it out of this figure and list it separately. That’s because insurers usually apply a single article limit. It’s the maximum they’re willing to pay out for any one item. Single article limits vary between insurers, and sometimes based on the type of item. Check policy documents to be sure.
Cover for accidents like spilling a glass of wine on a rug or breaking a vase isn’t usually included as standard. If not, you can usually add it to your policy for a fee.
A ‘single article limit’ on your contents insurance policy is a cap on the maximum you can claim per item.
The limit is usually around £1,000 but can vary depending on who your provider is.
You must declare items that exceed the single article limit, such as jewellery, gadgets, art and antiques. You can do this when you compare contents insurance with us.
The cost of your contents insurance is likely to increase if you add items to your policy that exceed the single article limit.
It can sometimes be better to insure your valuables on a separate, specialist policy, such as a jewellery insurance policy. This way you can keep the cost of your contents insurance down and have the right protection in place for your valuables.
Personal possessions cover, also known as away from home cover, protects your possessions for loss or damage when you’re outside of your home. It’s for things like your mobile, jewellery and bikes. Anything worth more than £1,000 will need to be listed separately though. It won’t be covered by personal possessions cover.
Most policies cover the cost of replacing your possessions on a new-for-old basis. This means your insurer will pay out for the cost of replacing a damaged item as if it were new.
Indemnity, or 'wear and tear', policies insure your possessions for their value after depreciation. This may mean that the premium on an indemnity policy is cheaper.
You can cover items like bicycles and mobile phones with home contents insurance. But you won’t be covered for damages or theft that occur outside the home, unless you choose away from home cover.
If your item is worth more than the single article limit, you’ll need to list it with your insurer as a separate item too.
If you only need to insure these items, you could buy individual bicycle or phone insurance instead. Sometimes it works out cheaper, and the cover can be more comprehensive than you’d get as part of home insurance.
New items over the single article limit will need to be declared with your insurer if you want them covered for their full amount.
If the item is below the limit, you won’t need to declare it. Keep in mind you’ll have a maximum cover amount, say £40,000. If the item you’ve bought pushes you over this amount and you need to make a claim, you won’t be able to claim for more than £40,000 worth of contents in total.
Your insurer may also ‘apply average’. This is where they only pay out a proportion because you’ve under-insured. For example, your possessions are worth £60,000 but you insure them for £40,000. Half your possessions are lost in a flood, with a value of £30,000. The insurer could only pay out £20,000 – because that’s half your insured amount.
Student living arrangements can be somewhat unique, but if you're living in rented accommodation away from home you may be able to find the cover you need.
If you're sharing and/or living in a hall of residence, you may need to think about a dedicated student insurance policy. You might find less insurers are willing to offer you a quote, particularly if you live in shared accommodation.
Even if you're not a student, but live in a shared house, things can be a little more complicated. Some insurers refuse cover for shared accommodation. Others add extra exclusions, especially if bedrooms don't have their own locks.
Always be upfront about your living arrangements with insurers. If you’re not, and you need to make a claim, your policy could be invalidated. That means the insurer won’t pay out.
For valuable items, you might need to give your insurer a valuation certificate, or a receipt for proof you’ve bought it. Some insurers ask for them when you buy a policy, others might ask for them if you make a claim.
Home contents insurance policies last one year. It’s possible to buy temporary property insurance to cover your possessions while you're away if your home is empty for a short period of time.
Out of 405 contents insurance policies on Defaqto, 61% had no cover for matching sets and a further 24% had restricted cover, or it didn’t apply to all areas of the policy. Not all insurers offer matching set insurance, so if it’s something you need, check the policy details for cover before you buy.
If you’re renting a property your building may be covered by your landlord’s insurance, but your contents won’t.
If you’re renting a flat, you may only need insurance for your contents. If you own the flat you may be responsible for arranging buildings insurance too.
Specially designed to cover the sort of items students own like gadgets, books, clothes and bicycles.
If you’re letting a furnished property, you’ll want to insure the contents inside. Your tenant’s contents insurance won’t cover any items you own.
Theft, damage and mechanical breakdown cover for expensive gadgets like laptops, cameras, tablets and more.
Items of jewellery, art or antiques won’t be covered by contents insurance if they’re worth over £1,500. Specialist valuables cover will insure them for their full value.
Extensive cover for mobile phones and accessories. Will cover loss, theft, accidental damage and mechanical breakdown.
*The average price paid for home insurance annually through GoCompare in October 2020, by type. For buildings and contents insurance, it was £174.63. For buildings insurance only, it was £121.33. For contents insurance only, it was £78.03.
51% of customers who provided their contents only insurance renewal price saved up to £24.52 with GoCompare (1 Jun to 30 Sep).
52% of customers were quoted a monthly contents instalment amount of £6.29 or less with GoCompare (1 Jun 2020 to 30 Sep 2020).
Sector Views 2020. Financial Conduct Authority.
Cost of home contents insurance falls to a record low in February 2019, yet one in four UK households are uninsured. ABI.org.uk.
As of February 2021, there are 65 active home insurers on the panel at GoCompare.
Page last reviewed: 15 March 2021
Next review due: 15 June 2021