Home contents insurance
Find out how to protect the things you love inside your home with contents insurance.
What does ‘contents’ mean?
While buildings insurance covers the bricks and mortar of your home, your contents insurance protects everything in it. Put simply, if you'd take it with you when you move home, it probably comes under contents insurance.
Should I buy buildings and contents cover together?
You can take them out separately, but it's often easier and cheaper to get buildings insurance and contents insurance from the same company. There's less admin to do, with one renewal date to remember and one company to deal with if you claim.
If you're renting, you'll likely only need contents cover, but homeowners will almost certainly need both.
What does contents insurance cover?
Contents insurance protects all personal possessions, including:
- White goods like fridges and cookers
- Electronics and clothes
What could be added?
Jewellery, art, antiques, musical instruments, high-end electronics, camera equipment and even bicycles might need adding to your policy separately.
And you’ll probably need to pay an extra premium.
List your valuables
Your policy might also ask you to list all items above a certain value. And it may exclude some things altogether.
So check carefully to make sure you’ve got the cover you need.
How do I work out how much contents insurance I need?
Your insurance company can give you a rough idea of how much cover you need based on the size of your property – up to £50,000, for example. But coming up with a number that’s right for you can be tricky.
It’s easy to underestimate
Most people think they need less cover than they actually do, so it’s worth taking the time to go through every room of your home.
Make a list
Write everything down as you go along, and estimate the replacement cost. Then add it all up. You’ll probably be surprised by the final figure.
Here are the main things to include:
- Furniture including beds, sofas, wardrobes, chairs and tables
- Electrical items including TVs, laptops, games consoles, tablets, mobile phones (if not covered as standard)
- Kitchen items, including the microwave, kettle, toaster, cutlery, plates, pots and pans
- Clothes, including any in storage
- Entertainment, including books, video games, DVDs, CDs and vinyl
- Curtains and carpets (if not covered by buildings insurance)
- Garden tools
- Bicycles (check if covered)
- Sports equipment including golf clubs and home gyms
- Food in your fridge and freezer
Calculate how much it will cost to cover your contents.
How do they differ? New-for-old vs indemnity cover
An indemnity policy considers wear and tear. So if you’re claiming for a laptop that’s a few years old, you’ll get back the cost of a similar second-hand one — not a brand new replacement.
A new-for-old policy would pay for a brand new one if your old laptop is stolen. Higher pay-outs on new-for-old policies also mean higher premiums.
Do I need home contents insurance?
Home contents insurance isn’t a legal requirement – unlike car insurance. It’s just a sensible precaution to protect yourself from unforeseen problems like theft, flood or fire.
Buildings insurance is often required by your mortgage lender. But contents insurance is up to you.
High value contents insurance
Most standard policies limit how much they’ll pay out for one item – sometimes only up to £1,000. So if you have a lot of pricey valuables, you may be better off getting specialist high value contents insurance instead.
Generally speaking, a high value item is anything worth more than £1,000 – like fine jewellery, art, collectibles, high spec computers and cameras. Some specialist insurers even offer unlimited cover, for an extra cost.
Know more about our high value contents insurance.
Tenants’ contents insurance
Tenants' insurance is exactly the same as contents cover for homeowners, so use the checklist above to work out how much cover you need.
Don't forget to include your own furniture if your place is unfurnished and always check your tenancy agreement to see what your landlord is responsible for.
Student contents insurance
If you're living in halls or shared accommodation, you'll need to protect your valuables. They may be covered by your family's policy, but watch out for exclusions.
Many contents policies don't cover laptops, phones and tablets outside the family home, so you may need gadget cover of your own. Even if it adds a few pounds to you monthly bills, it could be worth it for the peace of mind.
Optional extras for contents insurance
Many insurers will add extra cover to your policy at no additional cost. But sometimes it’s worth paying for additional protection.
Don’t get too much – or too little
Always read your policy documents carefully to make sure you have everything you want. And that you’re not paying for things you don’t need.
Does contents insurance cover out of home or away from home?
Your possessions are insured when they’re inside your home. But you may want to include cover for things you take with you when you leave – like laptops, tablets, cameras and bikes. Check your policy to see what’s covered. And remember you can usually add ‘away from home’ cover if it doesn’t come as standard.
Home emergency cover
Home emergency cover protects you against things like burst pipes, blocked drains or a broken down boiler. You usually get access to a 24-hour helpline, and they’ll send round a qualified technician to fix the problem as soon as possible.
Accidental damage cover protects you from things like a football through a window, or a paint spill on the carpet. It rarely comes as standard because of the extra cost. But you can add it if you want. Just remember to check the excess – if it’s too high it might not be worth it.
If you’re involved in a dispute with a neighbour, builder or supplier, Legal expenses cover could pay your advice and court costs.
It’s often included as standard – and it might be worth adding it if not.
Holiday home contents insurance
If you’re lucky enough to own a second home, you’ll need contents insurance on that too. Check with your insurer to see if you can just add it to the policy on your main residence. Otherwise, you’ll need to take out separate cover.
There are all sorts of second homes
A second home could be somewhere you use for holidays, or a property you use for work. For example, you might work in the city during the week and spend your weekends in the country. It could also include a renovation project, something you’re doing up while living in your current home, or a property you’ve inherited and need to insure while you sell it.
What if you’re not there that often?
British Gas Home Insurance. Looking for cover?
All our buildings and contents policies are Five Star rated by the independent experts Moneyfacts. And they’re also backed by one of the UK’s leading insurers. Want to see what you’d pay?
Terms and Conditions apply. Home Insurance is arranged and administered by British Gas and is underwritten by a carefully selected insurer. Your policy documents will show who your insurer is. British Gas is a trading name of British Gas Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England & Wales (Registered No.03141243). Registered office: Millstream, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 5GD.