Christmas is fast approaching and for many, that includes shopping for and stashing gifts in the run-up to the big day.
But while the rest of us are preparing gifts to give to loved ones, thieves are taking advantage of the high-value items under the Christmas tree, with burglary claims up in the week surrounding Christmas, as reported by Direct Line. And burglars aren’t the only threat to your festive fun — according to insurer Aviva, fire claims increase by 120% on Christmas Day alone.
But are the gifts protected, whether before you’ve given them or after you’ve received them? In short, Christmas presents won’t be covered unless you have contents insurance or a specific insurance policy for the items.
Put simply, if you want any items within your home to be covered in the case of burglary or fire (or any other mishaps), you have to have contents insurance.
Contents insurance is separate to buildings insurance, which only covers the structure and fittings of your house, but the two types of policy can be purchased together. If you are a tenant your landlord should have buildings insurance but it’s your responsibility to cover your personal belongings. When purchasing a policy you’ll agree on a cover level (£10,000 for example), which is the maximum amount the insurer will pay out in the event of a claim.
If you already have a contents insurance policy, the extra items in your house over the festive season could push the value of your belongings over the cover limit you previously set with your insurer. Think of any gadgets, jewellery and other gifts you’re storing away for Christmas (or that you’ve received as a gift yourself).
Some insurers will automatically increase the cover level over the month of December specifically to cover the extra items people store at home. But this is not applicable to all policies and the increases offered will differ, so check with your insurer whether they adjust your cover and by how much.
As well as a cover level, your insurer will also implement a single article limit, which is the maximum amount they will pay out for a single item on your policy. This is often around the £500 mark, but may be higher or lower.
If you (or anyone in your home) were lucky enough to receive any really valuable gifts, you might need to revisit your policy’s terms or consider taking out separate insurance for these items. Check your policy’s single article limit and tell your insurer about any items that exceed that (this could include jewellery, games consoles, mobile phones etc.)
And if you’ve got some new gadgets and want to cover them outside of the home, you can look to add away from home cover to your contents policy or take out a separate gadget insurance policy. Gadget insurance will cover your items separately from your home insurance so won’t affect your home no claims bonus if you make a claim.
When you’ve handed out all your gifts and your policy’s cover level has dropped back to normal, it’s important to consider whether your normal cover limit is enough. It’s important to check the cover limit you set with your insurer and regularly consider whether it’s adequate — especially when you make a valuable new purchase. If not, you might want to consider talking to your insurer to increase your cover level on a more permanent basis.
Make sure you’re covered and you’re getting the best deal on your contents insurance.