CONTENTS INSURANCE COVER
What is covered?
Whereas buildings insurance covers the fabric of your home (including certain fixtures and fittings such as kitchen and bathroom units), contents insurance covers the moveable things in your home – including money – which belong to you and the members of your family who live with you.
Contents insurance policies cover your belongings either on an indemnity basis or, more commonly these days, on a new-for-old basis.
Indemnity cover means that your claims will have something knocked off for wear and tear.
If you choose this type of cover (rare these days), you should be prepared to replace items with second-hand goods or make up the difference between the new and second-hand price out of your own pocket.
New-for-old means that stolen or destroyed items can be replaced with brand new ones, so your claims should be met in full unless the insurer insists on repair rather than replacement, if this is a feasible solution. However, some items – such as clothes and bed linen – are automatically covered on an indemnity basis, even though all your other possessions may have new-for-old cover.
Most standard policies will cover your belongings while they are in your home against damage or loss caused by:
• Fire and smoke (but not smoke damage on its own)
• Earthquakes (e.g. a tremor could cause an expensive ornament to fall off the mantelpiece)
• Storms or flooding
• Subsidence, heave or landslip
• Any sort of vehicle or animal crashing into your home
• Aircraft or things falling from them
• Falling trees, lampposts, telegraph poles or parts of them
• Theft or attempted theft – cover for replacing stolen items, not repairing damage as a result of forced entry
• Riot – for which there is an exact meaning in law and a time limit of seven days for making a claim
• Action by vandals and other ‘malicious persons’ (in the industry jargon)
• Water overflowing or escaping from water tanks and pipes
• Leaking oil escaping from heating systems
As part of the standard package on many policies, you will usually find that, up to specific limits, you will be covered for:
• Your legal liability as occupier of your home (e.g. if a tile falls off your roof and injures a passer-by). Damage or injury that your pets cause will not be covered unless you specifically ask for this – in which case the premium may go up, depending on your type of cover.
• Damage to satellite dishes, and television and radio aerials. Any damage caused to your home by these items (say a falling dish wrecks your front porch) is covered by your buildings policy.