Underinsured homes: 1 in 4 households don’t cover their contents

More than a quarter of households in the UK don’t insure their home contents, leaving more than £266bn of possessions unprotected.

Research from the Association of British Insurers (ABI)[1] shows that 7.5 million homes don’t have home contents insurance, meaning that in the event of theft, fire, flood or other damage, they wouldn’t get anything paid out to replace what they had lost.

On average the contents of a UK home are worth £35,000, more than the UK average annual salary[1]. The average cost of combined home and contents insurance is £307 a year, accordingly to comparison site finder.com[2], while home contents insurance alone costs on average £141 a year[3].

A YouGov study found that only 4 out of 10 people who rent their home had any form of contents insurance[4], but 93% of people who own their own homes have policies in place to protect their possessions.

Home contents insurance is often a requirement of obtaining a mortgage, whereas this tends not to be the case with rented properties. There is concern that some renters might think that their landlord’s buildings insurance also covers their contents, which is not usually the case.

The Financial Ombudsman has reported on some of the challenges faced by customers and insurers when it comes to making sure that the home contents insurance people do have, is sufficient to cover the actual value of their possessions. Customers need to make sure they include everything when calculating the value they need covered, and check what each policy option covers and what is excluded.

Choosing your home cover - avoiding underinsurance

Choosing your home cover – avoiding underinsurance

  • Work out how much cover you need, based on the cost of replacing all your possessions. Don’t forget to include things like soft furnishings and garage or shed contents.
  • Check if the policy you’re considering includes new for old cover, which will replace items with new, or if they only cover the amount those items are worth at the time they’re lost or damaged.
  • Check if there are upper limits for single items; if you think you need a higher limit, see if the provider can offer you more options
  • Remember to add new high value possessions to your insurance when you buy them
  • When your policy is due for renewal, make sure you check whether the value of your possessions has changed
  • If you’re a tenant, check whether you’re liable for replacing any items belonging to your landlord if they get lost or damaged, as you might need to insure these too.

[1] Association of British Insurers, reported in The Journal, Chartered Insurance Institute, June-July 2019

[2] finder.com

[3] ABI, reported in The Independent, February 2018

[4] YouGov Home Protection Study, 2014

[1] Association of British Insurers, reported in The Journal, Chartered Insurance Institute, June-July 2019

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