It's a time for giving, but all those presents under the tree are a gift for burglars. Yours Money Editor Sarah Jagger explains how to ‘insure’ you’re fully covered this yuletide.
What does home contents insurance cover?
Home contents insurance financially protects your belongings against theft or damage from fire and flooding. Think of your contents as everything that would fall out if you tipped your home upside down.
Do I have to have it?
It isn’t compulsory - unlike buildings insurance which covers the rebuilding of your home - but you need it if you can’t afford to replace your possessions.
How do I know I have the right amount of cover?
One in five households is underinsured because we underestimate the value of our belongings, says Direct Line. Make sure you have the right amount of insurance - list all your possessions including items in the loft, garage and shed. Check values using the internet if you don’t have receipts. Make sure the sum insured – the maximum amount an insurer will pay - is kept up to date. Use GoCompare.com’s home contents calculator for guidance.
Are my Christmas presents automatically covered?
Most insurers automatically increase the sum insured over Christmas to cover gifts as well as food and drink. The length of Christmas cover varies depending on your policy's small print, as does the level of insurance. Sainsbury’s Bank increases cover by £7,500 while Co-op Insurance adds 10%. Gifts including mobile phones, jewellery and tablets may have restrictions, so read check your policy so you don’t exceed limits.
What do I do if my presents are stolen?
- Report the theft to the police, then contact your insurer who’ll make your property secure
- Write a list of stolen items including make, model, purchase price, and when and where they were bought
- Keep all present receipts as insurers may ask to see these while assessing your claim.
How to beat the burglars!
- Be careful what you post on social media
- Keep presents out of sight
- Set lights on timers and get a neighbour to pop in if you're going away over Christmas
- Take present packaging to the recycling centre rather than leaving it outside.
Can I regularly update my contents cover?
Yes, anytime during your policy’s term. Whether it’s a valuable necklace or you’ve furnished a new extension, you should let your insurer know and pay any additional premium.
Is there anything I can do to reduce premiums?
- Don’t allow your policy to automatically renew – shop around using a comparison website
- Select a higher excess - but make sure you can afford to pay this amount if you need to claim
- Pay annually – cheaper than monthly instalments
- Pay for a professionally-fitted and maintained burglar alarm, approved door and window locks and join your Neighbourhood Watch scheme
- Check the quality of your home insurance policy using Defaqto’s star ratings: Churchill, M&S Bank and Post Office Money all have 5-stars.