Are you certain your contents insurance offers enough cover for your high-value items?
All contents insurance policies have a limit on how much your insurer will pay out for a single item unless it has been listed specifically. If you haven’t listed it separately, and you suffer loss or damage to something that has a high-value, you will very likely discover that the full replacement value is not met.
Very few people actually read their insurance policies carefully. If you haven’t, you may be surprised at how low the maximum single item pay-out is if you haven’t carefully detailed your high-value items and ensured they are sufficiently covered.
What counts as a high-value item?
Many insurance companies cap the individual item cover at £1,500, or even as low as £1,000. This means it’s very easy to under-insure an item in your home.
The most common items that fall into this category are luxuries and tech equipment such as:
- Precious metals (such as cutlery)
- Paintings and prints
- Top of the range cameras
- Sporting equipment
- Musical instruments
- High-value tools and equipment for hobbies
What high-value items does my contents insurance cover?
When you purchase your contents insurance, you have the opportunity to list any items that are of high-value.
Provided you give detailed descriptions of each individual high-value item you own, most insurance companies will cover those up to a predetermined value. This value will depend on the level of cover you purchase.
If you have items that would cost a lot of money to replace, you insurance premium will rise to reflect that. The insurance company may also ask for proof of the value of some high-ticket items and will need to see an official valuation document.
In many cases, the level of security you have for your home will also impact your premiums, so if you have antiques or collectibles, ensure you have a good security system in place.
Should I insure expensive items separately?
In most cases, you will not need to insure expensive items separately.
In fact, in many cases it will cost you less overall to simply include these items in your home contents insurance policy.
You should, however, double check that the cover for your items is sufficient. Some policies will give you unlimited cover, while others will set a limit for a single item. If this limit is £1,000, you’re likely going to need to look elsewhere for cover that has a higher limit. However, many people will find a limit of £2,500 or £5,000 sufficient, so make sure you get a level that’s right for you.
You will need to examine potential policies carefully to ensure you get the one that best fits your needs in terms of cover and price.
That’s not to say that you will never need specialist insurance. If you collect numerous high-value items, you may need an additional policy or to look to a specialist insurer.
Can I get a specialist home contents policy?
While the easiest way to insure your high-value items is within your standard contents policy, if you have many expensive possessions it may be worth looking at the specialist policies offered by many providers. Most people either choose to:
- Buy a separate specialist policy for those items
- Purchase estate insurance (or High Net Worth insurance), to encompass everything on your property.
Which is best for you will depend on what you own and its value. For example, if you’re an avid photographer and buy all the new technology, as well as vintage items, then a specialist gadget policy may be best for you.
However, if you have a large home full of antiques and art you’ve collected, estate insurance is essential.
I don’t know the value of a piece of jewellery/furniture/collectable, should I get it valued?
Yes. Unless you are an expert, knowing the true value of an object is notoriously difficult. It is easy to under or over-estimate the value of something in our possession. Even if you are well-informed, you should get a second opinion and a written evaluation by a professional.
This will give you peace of mind that you are not over or underinsured, as well as offering proof of the value to your insurance company should they need it.
Also note that valuations need to be recent; a valuation from 10 years ago will no longer be accurate. Depending on the item(s) you own, try to have them valued every 1-3 years, even if you never plan to sell them.
This is important regardless of whether your possessions are covered within your contents policy, or within a separate one.
What should I do to ensure my items are covered?
- Read your policy
Make certain you study your policy to ensure you understand exactly what is covered and for how much. No one likes reading small print but if you don’t want to be disappointed if you should have to make a claim you simply have to do it.
- Be open and honest with your insurer
Not being quite truthful with your insurer is a mistake. Often this is just an oversight on the part of the policy holder, but accuracy in description and value is paramount. Trying to keep your insurance costs down by undervaluing your possessions will only result in regret when you fail to get the money to replace the item that has been lost or stolen.
- Keep your policy up to date
Update your policy whenever you buy a new item or when you get a new evaluation. Make sure it’s the first thing on your to-do list when you return home with your purchase.
You should also check (and if necessary revise) you contents insurance each year. We often think that little has changed in a year, but if you do an itemised inventory every time you renew, you may well be surprised. The average value of a UK 3-bedroom home is £55,000, so don’t leave it to chance.
- Double check any limits on your insurance
It is common to be underinsured. Remember you need cover that would allow you to replace everything, from the knives and forks, to the floor coverings, to the masterpiece hanging on the wall. High-value items have a habit of increasing in value or costing more to replace, so always check your list, without fail.
Ensuring that your high-value items are properly insured is not difficult, but does require time and trouble to get right. Insurance may be seen as boring and something we hope we will never need, but disasters happen. When things go wrong, being able to replace what you have lost will significantly reduce the stress involved.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. One of our friendly team members will talk you through your needs and guide you toward the right umbrella-style cover, or niche policies. We’ll search high and low to get you the very best deal, without sacrificing on your level or quality of cover. To get started or find out more, click here.