Published On: Sun, Jul 30th, 2017

Guide to protecting your valuables


Many people assume their household insurance automatically covers valuables such as jewellery, art, antiques, collectables and gadgets, but all too often they are wrong.

Home contents policies set a strict cap on the cover for individual belongings, known as the single item limit.

This can be as low as £750, so if you own any items worth more than that, check what your policy covers.

SINGLE ITEMS

Brian Brown, head of insights at financial information business Defaqto, examined 435 standard home contents policies for the Sunday Express, and found that every one set cover limits on single items kept at home.

His figures show that 22 per cent set a maximum single item limit of £1,500 or less, with 1 per cent only covering items up to £750.

Just one in four automatically covers items worth £3,500 or more, and Brown says: “Between £1,500 and £2,500 is the most typical amount.”

Most insurance policies do not protect personal possessions away from the home, unless you buy this as an add-on.

If you do this, 60 per cent of policies restrict single item cover to between £1,500 and £2,000, with just 16 per cent covering items beyond £3,500.

Brown says if any of your belongings exceed these limits, you will have to specify them separately to your insurer, and pay an additional premium.

“How much you pay will depend on the type of item, as there are different charges for, say, jewellery, furs, antiques, works of art, guns and so on.”

Your premium will also vary according to the value of the item and whether you have installed household security measures such as locks and an alarm, he adds.

“Some may insist more valuable items are kept in a safe or refuse cover altogether if they exceed their underwriting limits.”

If you plan to take any valuable belongings out of the home, consider paying extra for away from home cover.

TAKE A PICTURE

Collectors also have to tread carefully, because while individual items such as books or works of art may fall under the single item limit, the collection’s total value may breech the insurer’s limits.

“In this case you will have to insure your total collection separately,” Brown says.

Always keep original receipts or valuation documents for pricey belongings, he adds.

“Take multiple photographs of your most valuable items so you can prove possession if your insurer disputes a claim.”

KNOW YOUR WORTH

Many people have no idea how much valuables and collectables are worth, new research from TopCashback.co.uk shows.

Two thirds think their curios, bric-a-brac or family heirlooms may be worth serious money but nearly half have no insurance for them.

Consumer affairs editor Natasha Rachel Smith says: “Not knowing their value or failing to insure them correctly may cost thousands if they were to be stolen or damaged.”

You need to keep a close eye on the current value of your valuables as gold, jewellery, art, antique and even collectible toy prices constantly change, she adds.

“The original Beanie babies could now be worth up to £3,000.”

Owners of really expensive items might have to consider a specialist household insurer such as Hiscox.

Hannah Maundrell, editor-in-chief at comparison site Money.co.uk, says you should go through the terms and conditions of your insurance with a fine toothcomb and ask about items like laptops, bikes and cameras that regularly leave your home.

“For example, most policies will not cover bikes kept outside but some might if kept in a locked shed or hidden away.”

Also check what cover you have for items kept in your garden, shed or garage such as furniture, tools and plants.

They are called valuables for a reason, so make sure they have the protection they deserve.


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