Home insurance Contents valuation tips

builder looking at blueprints

Value your home contents room by room when calculating cover

It's very easy to undervalue your home contents. Here we show what you should consider when trying to establish how much cover you require.

First off, it's important you take the time to value your belongings. If, when a claim is made, you haven't got enough cover, an insurer can reduce the amount it pays out. But don't be tempted to over-insure as this will lead to you paying higher premiums than necessary. Follow the steps below to make sure you've got enough cover.

Tips on valuing your possessions

  • Make a list
  • Don't forget smaller items. The price of these can add up to more than you think. When you buy or receive new items, add them to your list. Inform your insurer of particularly expensive new items.

New for old

Policies with new-for-old cover either pay the full cost of repairing damaged items or pay to replace them with equivalent new items. An exception to this rule is wear and tear of clothing. Refer to catalogues for up-to-date prices and review every few years.

Valuables

You might need to check the terms of your policy for hard-to-value and antique items. Establish the insurer's definition of a 'valuable' and read your policy carefully so you're aware of limits of cover. If a policy states it wouldn't cover items 'worth more than £1,000', for example, this doesn't mean you'll be eligible to claim up to £1,000. If you haven't declared a valuable worth more than the limit, it wouldn't be covered at all.

Antiques and hard-to-value items

You may need to get an expert valuation for antiques, jewellery and art - some insurers insist on this. Use a member of an appropriate trade body or professional organisation.

For large collections of books, records, CDs or DVDs, value only those items you'd want to replace, but agree the amount with your insurer up front. Check your policy details as they may limit the total sum insured.

Paintings by unknown artists often cause problems. Similarly, inherited items can be difficult to value and probate valuations can be artificially low. Seek a professional valuation if these items are particularly important to you.

Receipts and photographs

Keep receipts for expensive items. This will make things much easier in the event of a claim. Take photographs of these items. Rest a ruler or a measuring tape alongside ornaments or jewellery to provide an idea of scale.

Pairs and sets

Most policies will have a clause for matching pairs and sets, such as a three-piece suite, so when one item of a set is damaged you won't be able to replace the whole set.

The same applies to fitted carpets - you'll be able to claim a replacement carpet only for the room where there is damage.

Working from home

You might have further insurance considerations if you work from home. Some policies will cover household items used for business, such as computers or fax machines, as standard. However, most will set a limit on how much you can claim. Other policies may exclude working from home altogether.

Check your policy and, if necessary, tell your insurer you work from home. If you don't, it may invalidate your cover.

Garden equipment

Many policies include cover for garden items such as furniture and barbecues. Some may even cover plants or the tools in your garden shed.

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