;
banner

A guide to insuring your home furnishings and treasured possessions

Get it together to protect your personal belongings

Your home is a sacred space and when you look closely, every object has a story to tell. From the worn-in armchair, to the elaborate vase, your possessions paint a picture of your life. For example, the living room might reveal your penchant for globetrotting, while the bed linen is a testament to your sewing skills. The secret cupboard on the landing is full of photo albums, diaries and hand-me-downs you can’t bear to part with. Not forgetting the pro kitchen you’ve refined over the years. Whisk? Please, it’s all about the budget-busting Kitchen Aid blender!

Everything you own was handpicked for a reason, and you could call to mind the value of each cup, cupboard and cushion individually, but how much attention do you pay to your possessions as a collective? Well, imagine if these possessions suddenly all went AWOL. How would you fill the emotional gap, never mind find the funds to replace them?

It’s time to protect your possessions by establishing an encyclopaedic knowledge of your furnishings. It sounds like a mammoth task, but it’s really not so bad.

We’ve got the best tips and tools to get you started. So, here’s the low-down on exactly what you need to consider when thinking about contents insurance:

chair and desk

By the end of this guide, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the value of your furnishings as a whole
  • Find the right insurance for your needs
  • Get the appropriate level of cover
  1. 1. What does home contents insurance cover?

  2. 2. Insuring for the right amount

  3. 3. How to value your possessions

  4. 4. Ways to catalogue your home contents using an inventory

  5. 5. Home inventory apps that make your life easier

  6. 6. Understanding the small print on your contents insurance cover

If you’re looking for advice in one or more of these areas, click on the title above to jump to the next section, or scroll down to read the full guide.

download icon

Or keep a copy by downloading a printable pdf here

1. What does home contents insurance cover?

Woman putting dishes in the dishwaser

A home contents insurance policy will cover personal items, such as an engagement ring, or the TV, but there are other highly valuable items that shouldn’t be forgotten:

  • Curtains and blinds
  • Carpets
  • Freestanding kitchen units
  • White goods, including the dishwasher, tumble dryer and even the boiler
  • Towels
  • Bed linen
  • Garden furniture

Your policy should protect all your belongings, not just the precious 21st birthday gold locket and rare dodo eggs. As a rule of thumb, anything you can move or take with you as part of a house sale should be considered when calculating your home contents cover.

i icon

Contents insurance isn’t compulsory, but it’s invaluable should the worst happen. Sure, it’s difficult to make choices based on the ‘disaster scenario’, after all it might never happen! But, considering the cost of replacing or repairing carpets, furniture, electronics and the goods in any outdoor buildings (such as garages and sheds), preparation and protection is your first line of defence.

Protect the total value of the possessions in your home

Astonishingly, your personal belongings could be worth around £45,000 (according to The Money Advice Service), if not more.

But if you didn’t fully anticipate this cost, you’re not alone – a whopping 65% of homeowners underestimate the full value of their belongings.*

The total lifetime spend on a woman’s wardrobe can be more than £90,000 and children under 18 can have a collection worth over £13,000**

Imagine replacing that all in one go!

So, it’s essential you have the right level of cover if you ever make a claim.

While a policy that’s less expensive month-to-month may seem like adequate protection for your cave of wonders, when the payout arrives it could fall shockingly short.

carpet icon

For example, just replacing the carpet for nine rooms may cost between £7,000 - £17,000*** (dependent on carpet choice). If your policy only covers you for £20,000, there’s potentially not much left over for other furnishings after carpet costs.

When looking around your home, be truthful: Can your policy actually afford to repair and replace everything, if the worst should happen. If the answer is “no”, it’s time to start shopping around for a new policy.

Carpet replacement for nine rooms may cost as much as£17,000

up arrow icon

Back to the top

2. Insuring for the right amount

Some policies will start cover at £75,000 , so if disaster strikes before you have the chance to make a contents inventory, you’ll have peace of mind there is adequate protection in place.

watering can and gardening tools

Cover every area

When investigating a policy, look out for features that keep every area in your house protected. Remember, it’s not all kitchens and bathrooms; there are other locations to keep in mind too:

  • Garden furniture and features, including shrubs, trees and plants
  • Freezer contents
  • Garages and shed contents, such as gardening tools, and sports and camping equipment
  • Personal Possessions cover, for items such as jewellery, laptops and mobile phones
Lady taking a picture of a dog

Cover every possibility

The policy should also take into consideration numerous scenarios and factors:

  • Replacement for items that have been damaged, lost or stolen
  • Whether the policy considers the wear-and-tear of the item
  • The risk of items being lost or damaged outside of the home
  • The cost of legal cover if you need to compensate for an injury that occurs in your home (or even an over-the-fence argument with a neighbour that ends up in court!)
up arrow icon

Back to the top

3. How to value your possessions

Knowing the value of your possessions isn’t as easy as it sounds, and you may have some research to do if your furnishings have more rings than an aged redwood tree.

For example, could your bargain car-boot coffee table have increased in value? Is the dust-collecting Mega Drive now a cult collector’s item? Is the plant pot you’ve had forever actually a relic of the Ming dynasty? Well, you never know!

If you’re estimating or guessing, put the brakes on. To ensure the true value of your belongings are accounted for, there are some simple (and quite fun) ways to discover what your possessions are really worth.

Lady on a laptop
possessions

What’s it worth However you assess the value of your specialist items or collectables,keep a record of all your correspondence, quotes and sums to refer back to when you’re setting up your contents insurance policy.

eBay advanced search

Hit the busiest marketplace on the web to discover the value of equivalent items up for sale.

The eBay advanced search tool filters vast quantities of listings on eBay to reveal a very specific list of results. You can use the advanced search to research the value of your furnishings. Here’s how to do it:

  1. 1

    Enter keywords about your item, for example “Royal Worcester plate”

  2. 2

    Fill in any exclusions you want to omit from your search, such as “Evesham gold”

  3. 3

    Select a category from the extensive drop-down list. For the above terms, the category could be “collectables” or “antiques.” For a broader list of results, you could leave this field blank.

  4. 4

    Leave the price range blank to see the full spectrum of sales

  5. 5

    View listings for “Titles and Description”, “Completed Listings” and “Sold Listings”, plus “Auction”, “Buy It Now” and “Classified Ads”. In returning all of this information, you get a sense of what similar items have sold for previously and also the progress of current auctions.

  6. 6

    Scroll down and click “search”

Hey, presto! eBay has generated a ready-made comparison list so you can reveal what equivalent, or similar, items are worth. Scroll through and make a note of the final sale price for each and calculate an average value to assign to your item.

Man on a laptop
i icon

The eBay advanced search tool filters vast quantities of listings on eBay to reveal a very specific list of results.

Forums

If you have a specialist item, or a collection it might be too specific or niche to return many listings on eBay. The next investigatory port-of-call could be specialist forums!

Full to burst with experts, forums offer insider advice on buying, selling and trading trends for your item. Whether you’re just lurking (reading and not chatting), or actively starting a thread to ask directly, these aficionados might be able to enlighten you about the value of your belongings, or direct you to someone who can.

Facebook groups and forums are swamped with similarly passionate collectors, so why not click the links below, register and start chatting!

Get items valued professionally

You don’t need to go to an auction (or suit-up in a red fleece as if Bargain Hunt has come to town) to discover the value of your possessions from an appraiser.

There are no-fuss websites that deliver an accurate value for your belongings, for a minimal charge. Valuemystuff.com provides an appraisal within 48 hours for £10. It offers a simple checklist for your item, asking for information about distinctive markings or hallmarks, plus it offers the opportunity to upload 24 images of your item.

Barcode scanners

If your item has a barcode and you have access to a smartphone, you can use a scanner to find its value online. Digital marketplaces, such as Amazon.co.uk and Musicmagpie.co.uk, usually provide an app, with all the functionality of its desktop website, for you to download and use on the move! A barcode scanner can be included and it’ll only make your life easier when valuing your contents

i icon

Even if your collectables are very niche, there are online communities chatting, appraising and trading

hand holding a mobile phone

Using Amazon to value your items

  1. 1

    Download the Amazon app for iOS

  2. 2

    Click the barcode or camera image next to the search bar.

  3. 3

    Select “scan a barcode” or hover the camera over the object.

  4. 4

    The app will ask you to hold your mobile device in landscape mode and centre the barcode so it fits inside the orange rectangle guides that will appear on screen.

  5. 5

    Amazon will scan the barcode and reveal a list of the items that match and their value

i icon

Download mobile apps that feature built-in barcode scanners, to help inform your home evaluations

up arrow icon

Back to the top

4. Ways to catalogue your home contents using an inventory

Packing

A content inventory is in essence a list that details all the belongings in your home. You may have made one when you moved house, or when handing over the packing and shipping duties to a removals company.

To create an inventory that truly represents the value of your possessions, you must comb through your home room-by- room and document everything in it, whether the item is big or small, valuable or cheap, rare or ten-a-penny.

Knowing where to start can be overwhelming, but not impossible. Write a category checklist so nothing is missed while you take a journey through your personal possessions (and probably a few trips down memory lane!).

  • Electrical
  • White goods
  • Soft furnishings
  • Tables, chairs and other large furniture
  • Carpets
  • Curtains
  • Personal items (jewellery, clothes, coats and shoes)

How to store the information

There are numerous tools and apps that will help you store and organise a contents inventory. But if you’d prefer to create a DIY list, a Microsoft excel spreadsheet will give you the facility to record, edit, filter and categorise your belongings in an easy access format,that’s easy to customise.

Average value of UK rooms

Your inventory is likely to look a bit unruly once you’ve toured all the beds, basins and first-edition books you’ve collected over the years, so breaking up the items into room segments will keep it organised.

In collating the value of individual items, you are now able to assign an overall value to each room in your home. With all this information to hand, you could soon find yourself asking questions, such as “is my kitchen really worth that much?” Well, don’t second-guess yourself.

inventory

Knowing where to start can be overwhelming, but not impossible. Write a category checklist so nothing is missed while you take a journey through your personal possessions (and probably a few trips down memory lane!)

up arrow icon

Back to the top

5. Home inventory apps that make your life easier

Great home inventory apps will allow you flexibility to add or remove items, and to quickly revise your inventory. Apps should also offer security if your data is stored in a cloud application. When choosing the right inventory app for you, consider the following criteria:

  1. Q

    Can you take pictures of your belongings?

  2. A
    If the app can offer a visual trigger for the item, the written description can refer specifically to defining features, such as hallmarks. If there is the facility to upload multiple pictures, you have the opportunity to document any changes or damage that occurs.
  3. Q

    Is there a facility to add detailed written descriptions?

  4. A
    Ensure you are able to discuss the item in as much detail as you feel is necessary, including the distinctive features and history of your item.
  5. Q

    Does the app clearly catalogue each item by room and category?

  6. A
    If you need to see all white goods or all items in the kitchen, this search facility will save you precious time at the touch of a button.
  7. Q

    Is there an option to barcode scan?

  8. A
    If the inventory app connects to the internet, a barcode scanner could immediately pull in information about your item that you would otherwise spend precious time researching manually.
  1. Q

    Can you simply and quickly browse your contents?

  2. A
    Check if the full inventory is available via the app, or if you need to login to a website to see the extent of your belongings.
  3. Q

    Is there a search facility?

  4. A
    If the app will allow you to directly search for one item, it will save you time filtering by category and room, especially if you have hundreds of items on record.
  5. Q

    Can the inventory be exported as a PDF or hard copy for your records?

  6. A
    It’s great to have the information to hand online, but it’s essential to have a hard copy for your records, too. If the inventory can be exported as a PDF, spreadsheet or document, check to see what information is included. If any elements are omitted from the PDF, can the exported information be refined so you have an exact duplicate of your cloud-based inventory?
up arrow icon

Back to the top

6. Understanding the small print on your contents insurance cover

Setting up a contents inventory and knowing your possessions inside and out will assist you if you ever do need to make a claim on your contents insurance.

However, to make sure your policy is watertight thoroughly read all the documentation in relation to your policy. The small print is large in stature – it contains all the details that help you make an informed decision, plus reveals any bolt-on covers that help tailor your policy to your needs! Here are some questions you may want to keep in mind when reviewing your documentation:

girl painting
  1. Q

    Do you have Personal Possessions cover?

  2. A
    This keeps you covered for accidental damage, or loss of items that are taken out of the home. How many times have you nearly dropped the camera over the side of the ferry? What about when you leave your vintage pearl necklace at the gym? Better safe than sorry.
  3. Q

    Have you factored-in items that are worth over a certain amount?

  4. A
    There will be certain possessions that are very valuable that may need to be included on a separate policy. See How to spot a good contents insurance policy for more information.
  1. Q

    Are you covered for different times of year?

  2. A
    Who could forget Christmas! The influx of presents will undoubtedly increase the value of your contents. Make sure all the elves know you appreciate their hard work by ensuring the presents are covered in your policy (no one likes a vengeful elf, or stocking full of coal!).
  3. Q

    Did you double-check that special circumstances are covered?

  4. A
    These circumstances might be situations when you’re a victim of vandalism, explosions or leaks.
  5. Q

    Are you covered if you damage other people’s property?

  6. A
    We know you’re always careful, but accidents do happen! Your policy should cover you for up to a certain amount, just in case.
up arrow icon

Back to the top

 

Together Mutual Insurance believes you should never sacrifice the quality of cover for lower premiums and that your policy should reflect the real value of your possessions. We have various home insurance options that will help reduce your premiums. Rather than compromising on cover to save money, why not spread the costs? With our interest-free direct debit facility, you can spread payments over the year.

If you’re unsure of what your policy covers, simply get in touch with a member of our experienced Customer Services team on 01438 761 670 and they will be happy to talk you through it at any time.

 

 

 

*Cut the cost of cover in six easy steps, **Valuing home contents – worthless clutter or storage hunters treasure, ***Calculation of carpet for a house: Average square footage of UK house 925 metre cubed, uplifting old floor = £1 per square metre, 1x £925, Door easing £10 per door = 9 x £10, Room clearance £20 per room = 9 x £20, Delivery charge £29 = 1 x £29 Value of carpet, £6 per metre, £17.50 per metre = £6 x 925, £17.50 x 925