Contents Insurance: our ultimate guide
When you first move into a new place, contents insurance is one of those things that might not be on your mind straight away and can easily get put off. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got round to it – great! We’re happy you’re looking into home contents insurance, and this guide should help you find cover that’s right for you without any stress or confusion. Despite everyone in the country having lots of belongings, according to a Mintel survey, only 40% of renters have contents insurance, compared to 90% of homeowners.
Contents insurance covers all of your possessions, from your clothes, to your kitchenware, to your electrical appliances. An easy way to think about it is, imagine tipping your home on its head. Everything that falls out is considered to be part of your contents, so this includes any freestanding fridges, bathroom cabinets, etc. where everything which stays in its place like flooring or the built-in-oven is part of the building.
Things which aren’t covered by your contents insurance include anything which is owned by your landlord and anything which plays a structural role in your home, such as the walls or roof. There are some things which you can choose whether or not to cover, such as gadgets, high-value items and bikes.
Do I really need contents insurance?
This begs the question; do I really need contents insurance? The stats tell us that the majority of readers won’t have insurance, you may not have had reason to think about it before – so why now?
With contents insurance, your possessions are covered against theft, fire, water damage, and accidental damage.
In 2017, 2% of UK households were victims of burglaries, rising to 3.5% in London. You can check what the burglary stats are like in your area on the police website.
In 2016/17, there were approximately 30,000 fires in people’s homes in the UK. Insurance or not, always make sure that you check your fire alarm is working regularly, make sure you always turn the hob off and be careful with open flames. You can check the stats on fires in your local area on http://www.cfoa.org.uk/frs?region
In 2015 the Association of British Insurers recorded that claims for water damage were equal to thefts and fires combined, as was the case for accidental damage. This means that the biggest area of risk in your home will be the plumbing, so keep an eye on your boiler, any damp areas, and potential leaks from the roof.
Your options are to get insurance, hope for the best, or self-insure. Self-insuring is fine, but you need to be sure that you can afford to support yourself should the worst happen. Just think, if your house burnt down would you be able to buy everything new again? Would you be able to afford alternative accommodation while you wait for everything to be sorted out?
Things you didn’t realise were covered
What features are more usual?
There are some features which are nearly always included, no matter the provider. These include things like cover for people living in flat-shares and sub-letters, and the option to add multiple phones, bikes, and high value items to your policy.
Although there are things which are included as standard, for many others you will have to pay extra. There’s a scale here, if you’re adding a phone then it’s going to cost you less than a diamond ring.
Similarly, there are things which most policies will include, but not all to the same extent. For example, your excess won’t be the same everywhere, neither will the cover level or the limit for valuables.
In case you didn’t know, an excess is a base sum which your claim has to be greater than in order for the insurance company to pay out. For example, if you’re excess is £250 and you claim for £1,000, then the insurance company will pay you £750. You will nearly always get the option to change your excess when you buy your policy, the lower the excess the more expensive the quote. Bear in mind that for some things there will be a compulsory excess, particularly for problems such as escape of water as it’s one of the most common claims made.
What should I look out for before buying?
People are often lured in by discounts and welcome deals, and then caught out by steep renewal prices. A lot of the time, your renewal price may seem only slightly more expensive because the insurance company compares the new cost with your initial quote (before discounts were applied). If you look at customer reviews, then you’ll be able to get some idea of how much your premium may increase by come renewal time.
Beware of interest
A lot of providers give you the option of paying in monthly instalments to keep your immediate costs lower, which can be great in the short term. However, many of these companies will also be charging you interest so it actually works out more expensive overall. Paying monthly and annually both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s really up to you what you do.
You’ll nearly always be given the option of adding legal expenses and home emergency cover to your policy. This is entirely up to you, and how necessary it is varies from person to person. Legal expenses cover will pay for legal advice and/or going to court should there be a problem to do with your possessions or property, for example if someone got injured in your property, or you wanted to prosecute a burglar.
Home emergency cover sounds dramatic, but it just means that should your boiler break or a pipe burst, your insurance provider will send someone over to fix it ASAP. This is, of course, very convenient, however if you live in a new house or recently had a new boiler installed then it may not be worth it. Similarly, this may all be covered by your landlord’s insurance, so check with them if you can before buying anything.
If you want your landlord’s stuff to be covered (also known as Tenants Liability Insurance) then you’ll need to get accidental damage cover. This is definitely true with us, but some other insurers may not offer Tenants Liability at all – so always check the policy document!
Who are the main providers of contents insurance, and how do they compare?
|Provider||Excess||Max price valuables||Cost for changes||Contents specialists||Cover level||Pay monthly|
|Direct Line||£100-500||£5K (x5)||£0||No||£50K||Yes|
|LetAlliance||£0-500||£7.5K||Unclear||Yes||£50K||Yes – only option|
*Unclear means we couldn’t find this information on their website
How much does it typically cost?
According to Mintel, the average price of a contents policy in 2016 was around £120, but it will vary a lot depending on where you live, what your house is made out of, your home security, and your claims history. For example, if you live on a street with a high number of break-ins or in an area prone to flooding then your premium will be higher.
Where can I buy?
If your goal is to get a policy quickly, we’ve worked hard to make our journey as quick and simple as possible. You can get a quote in 5 minutes, follow this link to get a quote.
Despite saving you time, comparison sites are often biased and will sometimes be sacrificing some policy features which you may want – so always check the small-print when you’re using them. Just because the price is low doesn’t mean that the cover is good, and could mean that you get short-changed. You also won’t be seeing any new insurance providers – there are a lot of new companies starting up which won’t be on comparison sites but could have better deals for you.
Tips for buying
Insurance companies can ask you some questions you don’t know the answer to, such as what percentage of your roof is flat or when was your house built. Our advice here is to contact your landlord or lettings agent to see if they know. Information like build year will be very easy to find, whereas roof flatness and flooding history will be trickier. If you can’t find out from them, then you can get a good idea of how flat your roof is by having a look yourself, there’s nothing wrong with a guesstimate every now and then!
People are often unsure of what to do about high value items. If you have any high value items, your policy will increase in price depending on the cover level you go for – if you only insure it at home then it will be cheaper than insuring it out of home. However, that doesn’t mean that insuring cheaper items out of home will bump up your premium that much. A £300 phone will make far less difference than a £5,000 ring.
Some insurance companies have started asking you to declare your ‘high risk’ items – these are things which would be particularly attractive to thieves, ranging from televisions to antique furniture. If you want these items to be covered, declare them – adding them doesn’t necessarily have any effect on your premium.
What happens after I buy?
How do I reduce the risk of needing to make a claim?
Ah, the million dollar question! There’s no one answer, and for some problems, there’s literally nothing you can do. However, there are some things which will always reduce risks and could even reduce your premium!
First of all, make sure to always lock your door, if possible add deadlocks. If you’re in rented accommodation with poor or few locks, then we recommend that you put some new ones in. Ask your landlord first, and the chances are that they won’t have an issue (after all, they don’t want you to get robbed either, and it will increase the value of their property).
Finally, for those of you who enjoy a little tech, there are some smart devices you can get nowadays which are careful for you. A leak detector can be the only thing standing between a leak and a flooded house, and window sensors let you know if they’ve been left unlocked.
At Urban Jungle we offer specialised home contents insurance, designed to fit in with renters’ lives. We noticed that the odds are often stacked against renters when it comes to insurance, so we’re making it as easy as possible for you to get insurance quickly, wherever and whenever suits you, which is why we’ve made our website 100% mobile friendly.
If you want to get a quote, follow this link.
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