By Lyndal Phillips
Losing your most treasured possessions in a burglary, accident or disaster would be heart breaking.**
And then, to discover that your contents insurance was inadequate, and didn’t cover the cost of replacing essential items, would only contribute further misery and frustration.
** See the Editor’s story at the end of this article.
What is contents insurance?
Contents insurance covers your personal possessions in your home. If your possessions are lost, stolen or damaged, and you have adequate contents insurance, your policy will usually cover the costs associated with purchasing replacements.
What is covered by contents insurance?
Items that are not part of the structure of your building are considered contents. Examples of things that can be covered by contents insurance include:
- Electrical equipment
- Musical instruments
Do I really need contents insurance?
Whether you own your own home, or rent, contents insurance is essential to protect yourself against financial loss. If you’re a home owner you can choose to combine contents insurance and home insurance together in one policy. If you’re renting it is very important you consider contents insurance because if disaster strikes, your possessions will not be covered by your landlord’s insurance.
If you lost your home tomorrow, would your contents be covered?
Are you guilty of having a set and forget attitude to your contents insurance policy? Many people have a policy in place, but neglect to review the level of cover they require.
Think about the items you have in your home. Have you purchased new items, or acquired a significant collection, since your contents insurance policy was last reviewed?
Don’t leave things up to chance. A review of the value of your contents, and a realignment of your contents insurance policy, can bring great peace of mind.
How do I calculate the value of my contents?
The simplest way to begin taking stock of the value of the contents of your home is to wander through each room taking photographs of the items you own. You could take these photos on your phone so they are easy to access.
Sit down and look through the photographs, you might be surprised to see just how many items you have! Use your photographs to begin a list of your belongings, and their estimated worth.
You can create a spreadsheet, or table in a Word document, to organise your items into categories if that is helpful. A contents insurance calculator can assist you to ascertain the worth of your contents.
What is a contents insurance calculator?
The websites of most insurance companies include a contents insurance calculator.
The Insurance Council of Australia includes a contents insurance calculator on their website. You can use the calculator to determine the level of insurance required to ensure adequate cover of your contents.
How often should I recalculate the value of my contents?
It is recommended that you recalculate the value of your contents every two years. Recalculation is important because possessions can rapidly accumulate and, if we don’t commit to a regular stock take, it is very easy to become under insured.
What is not covered by contents insurance?
It is important to remember that different insurance policies, and insurance companies, cover different things in different ways. Don’t assume everything will be covered, if you are unsure, seek advice from an insurance specialist.
In general terms, the following are examples of things not covered by contents insurance:
- Wear and tear
- Damage to a computer caused by a virus
- Illegal items
- Highly valuable collectibles including antiques, jewellery and art works may need to be declared and covered as separate extras.
Where can I find advice regarding contents insurance?
Unbiased reviews of contents insurance policies can be found by visiting Choice.com.au
The website of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) features information about the importance of contents insurance.
If you are unsure about how to proceed it is always best to seek independent advice from a qualified financial advisor, before making a commitment.
The information contained in this article is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting based on such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your circumstances.
My in-laws had just moved into a home they had bought to support their retirement dream of living near the sea, backing onto a golf course and among other like minded retirees and families. Just three months later, on 23 December last year, we received the phone call to say that while they were both okay their house was burning. We rushed down and pushed our way through the wonderful crew of Country Fire Authority (CFA) firefighters trying their best to save what they could of my in-laws home, to see what we could do to help. It is now almost 12 months later, and the roof on their rebuild has just gone on – the rest of the house is still just a shell with months to go before it will be ready to reoccupy. Fortunately their home and contents insurance was adequate – with the contents cover falling a little short of being able to replace everything but covering the essentials – and they have been supported by their insurance policy in accommodation over that time. They thought it would never happen to them. It did. We’re all incredibly grateful that we have them with us today. Please make sure your insurances will cover you and not destroy your retirement hopes and dreams. Use this scenario to check your insurance policy, if you like. It’s a good test for your insurer, and a real life one. Stay safe.