Have you ever stopped to think about how much the contents of your house would cost to replace if they were stolen damaged or destroyed – even accidentally? Just like any insurance, contents insurance is designed to protect you from something you can’t see happening, but, in reality, could occur at any time.

You usually have two options when it comes to contents insurance – either taking out a standalone policy that protects the contents of your house only or combining it with a buildings insurance policy to protect your home as well. While contents insurance is not mandatory, tenants in rented properties may be required to take out a policy as a condition of their lease. If not, contents insurance isn’t compulsory, but few people could genuinely afford to replace every item in the home should they be subject to damage and loss.

What is the difference between Contents and Buildings Insurance

While buildings insurance covers damage or loss of the actual structure that is your home, contents insurance, is for the items that can be removed from the house. Essentially this means a contents policy is supposed to cover the cost of replacing anything other than the original fixtures and fittings your home contains.

What items should my contents policy include?

You may not realise it, but the value of the items in your home may be much higher than you’d guess. A contents policy will not only include large pieces of furniture but clothes, electrical equipment, appliances and even digital downloads that you may have purchased. Some policies do not cover things like carpets, or other flooring options, or items in a shed, or garage. It is therefore important to check the conditions of a policy before you decide to go ahead with it.

To work out the value of your contents, you can either use an online calculator or go through your house room by room making a list. Don’t forget to include items in the loft or cellar if you have one.

And what should it protect against?

Regarding the cover you’d expect to receive protection against, theft, fire and other losses should come as standard. Also, while some policies offer accidental damage, others may require you to pay extra for this option.

Any other extras?

It is entirely up to you whether you seek out a policy that protects single high-value items or items that are taken outside of the home, such as jewellery, electrical gadgets such as laptops, smartphones and bicycles. Another decision to make is whether you’d like goods that are damaged or lost replaced with ‘new for old’ or whether an indemnity policy – one that offers less cover based on the depreciation of the items you’re insuring – is best for you. While indemnity policies are usually cheaper to take out, you will not usually receive the same amount of money you paid out when purchasing your item.

It is a good idea to go through the process of getting a quote for your contents insurance with a few different providers to get the best deal. Do remember to check the excess required to make a claim, which can vary between providers as well as the terms and conditions of the policy before deciding which is the right one for your specific circumstances.