What is covered by your contents insurance? For most people, the first things that spring to mind are all under your roof: large electrical appliances such as TVs, furniture and maybe precious antiques or ornaments.
Yet contents insurance also often covers items you carry around with you, such as engagement rings, iPads and laptops. It also sometimes covers belongings that you leave outside, for example, bicycles, lawnmowers and garden furniture.
It is important to know what is covered by your insurance, and which types of damage or loss are included. For example, your insurance may cover your carpets for damage by flood or fire, but not if these were caused by you accidentally. Unfortunately, lots of DIY enthusiasts discover this to their cost when the time comes to make a claim.
Insurers often set limits on the amount they will pay for a single item, so you may need to take out additional insurance on some belongings. This could be anything you own that is particularly valuable, such as jewellery, sports equipment or artworks.
There are a few oddities in insurance policies that it pays to know about. Contents cover will sometimes replace the contents of your fridge and freezer, for example. Policies also sometimes cover things which are hidden from sight but central to the functioning of your home, such as boilers.
Not all policies provide cover on the same basis. If your belongings were destroyed, would you want to replace them with second-hand goods of the same value, or buy new ones instead? Insurance policies offer either new-for-old cover or 'indemnity', which would take wear and tear into account. While indemnity cover is likely to be cheaper, you must decide if you would really be prepared to accept less in the event of a claim.
If your circumstances change and the value of your possessions rises, you must inform your insurer. For example, if you splash out on a valuable painting or buy yourself a new Rolex, it won't be automatically covered - particularly if it is a high-value item.
Contents insurance requires some thought as there are many types of cover available. Most policies cover the same basic 'perils' such as fire, theft, storm, flood and so on. However, the amount of cover you get will vary from product to product.
Some insurers will ask you for a specific value that represents all your belongings whilst others will offer you a blanket amount based on how many bedrooms your home has. You may need to specifically list mobile devices that are important to you, like laptops, mobile phones and tablets; and yet other policies may give an element of accidental cover for them without having to list them individually.
The benefit of dealing with a broker when choosing your home contents insurance is that they will have at their disposal a wide range of insurers and products, therefore you should be able to find something that suits your needs exactly.
The most important thing is to make sure you are buying cover for the things you would expect to be covered for – and, if in doubt, ask!