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."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
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

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

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

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?