Don't forget to look in the wardrobe when valuing your home contents

It's not just the furniture and expensive gadgets that need to be included on insurance policies, warns Chiara Cavaglieri

With household budgets overstretched, scrimping on insurance may be tempting, but having inadequate cover means you could be caught short if the worst happens. One of the most common mistakes is to underinsure household contents. Insurers recommend regular evaluations of home contents, about once every six months. The value of all your contents, new and old, may come as a bit of a shock if you haven't checked for some time.

"Being underinsured for home contents is an easy mistake to make. Many people underestimate the value of their belongings and only realise their true value once it's too late," says Debra Williams from Tescocompare.com.



When assessing how much cover you need, draw up a list of rooms and the items inside each room. It's not just about furniture; curtains, carpets, ornaments and bedding are often overlooked and can add up to a considerable amount if they had to be replaced. Create an inventory of items, including collections of cheaper items such as books and films, and update it as often as you can. Clothing is another item often forgotten, so include the cost of replacing the entire wardrobe. That old suit may not look like much, but it could leave dent in your wallet if you had to replace it.



Check the upper limit on valuables such as jewellery and take out separate cover if your items fall outside this limit. Remember that when precious metal prices rise it will affect the cost of replacing any relevant pieces you own. During the recession, for instance, the price of gold has reached record levels, meaning that many people own jewellery that is now being severely undersold on their policy.



Newlyweds are particularly at risk if they fail to tell their insurer about new belongings after their big day. The average increase in value following a wedding is nearly £12,000, according to a new study by specialist insurer Hiscox. Despite this, Hiscox said, more than half of couples married in the past five years have not reviewed their cover or informed their insurers about the boost in contents. Few couples have anything other than dress fittings and seating plans on their mind before a wedding, but cover for loss or theft of gifts and rings is important. "The accumulated value of these items can be huge, so it's worth having a quick look at your contents policy to see if your insurer includes immediate cover for new items," says Austyn Tusler, a household insurance expert at Hiscox.



The run-up to Christmas, which seems to get earlier each year, is another vulnerable time with expensive gifts presenting an easy target for burglars. Always check that your existing policy offers extra cover for the total cost of any stolen Christmas gifts, particularly if you've forked out for an expensive piece of art or jewellery. There are many variations between policies so check the small print carefully to see where you stand. As an example, if you have £45,000 worth of contents but insurance for only £30,000, some insurers may pay only two-thirds of a claim, even if it is for less than £30,000.



"Having to spend hard-earned cash to top up an insurance pay-out is an unnecessary headache, especially as it takes only one phone call to increase your cover," says Julie Owens, the head of home insurance at Moneysupermarket.com.



Students can also find themselves without adequate insurance when they leave home, which is particularly worrying with young people three times more likely to be victims of burglary. Some students are covered by their parents' policies but it is vital to check and to take out separate protection if this is not the case.



A standard household contents policy with Aviva, for instance, gives £5,000 worth of cover for items "temporarily removed from the home". This includes belongings in a student's room, at their shared house or halls on campus and covers them for all standard perils such as fire, storm, flood or malicious damage. Theft is also covered, but only if someone physically breaks into or out of the accommodation.



Some items, such as expensive laptops and bikes, may need additional cover. It's also a good idea to register your mobile phone and other personal items for free on www.immobilise.com. Your property is given a unique identification mark and registered on the site. The police use the site when they have recovered stolen property to try to match the belongings to their owners.



People should also look closely at the value of their clothes, warns Hiscox. The average person spends about £1,000 a year on their gear while the fashion-conscious splash out up to £400 a month. Hiscox's Austyn Tusler says: "Many people don't have a grasp of the value of the clothing and accessories they have accumulated over the seasons.



"As a result, many people may be underinsured when it comes to their wardrobes. One female customer, for example, gave us an estimate of approximately £3,000 to cover her wardrobe contents but, once we had reviewed it, the total was actually more than £25,000."

Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWith one of the best comic roles around, it's no wonder she rarely bothers with films
News
people
News
i100
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
i100
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
News
i100
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Financial Analyst - Forecasting - Yorkshire

    £300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Financial Analyst, Forecasting, Halifax, Banking,...

    Business Architect - Bristol - £500 per day

    £500 per day: Orgtel: Business Architect - Banking - Bristol - £500 per day A...

    Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

    £200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup