You Ask, We Explain: Contents Insurance

Know whether your home and contents insurance will protect your stuff if something happens.

Truthfully, nobody likes to think about replacing everything they own. You purchase insurance with the hope that you won’t need it, but if a catastrophic event required you to replace every possession in your home or apartment, would you have enough coverage?

Most people obtain insurance for contents when they buy a home or renters insurance policy. Contents insurance, also known as contents coverage, helps protect your belongings if something happens.

How is Home Contents Insurance Determined?

When you buy an insurance policy, you will be asked how much coverage you’d need to replace all of your personal belongings at the time of a covered loss. Your answer will determine the insurance value of your belongings.

Many people, thinking first about budget and saving money, may underestimate the amount of coverage truly needed to replace their personal property after a loss. Others may simply not recognize the true value of their belongings.

Estimating the Value of Your Belongings

Even if you think you don’t have a lot of stuff, it adds up. It’s easy to estimate some of the more expensive items in your home, like computers, televisions, furniture or appliances. But what about your everyday items, like dishes, silverware, pots and pans, or small appliances like your coffee maker, toaster or blender? Or, what about your clothes? Have you estimated what it might cost to replace your entire wardrobe? Do you have any collectibles or heirlooms with undetermined values in your home?

Calculating Your Insurance Needs for Belongings

Online tools can help calculate the value of your personal possessions to ensure you get enough personal property coverage. Take a look at some of the options available below:

  • Home inventory software: In the past, the Insurance Information Institute offered a free web-based home inventory software, which has now been discontinued. A great alternative software would be Sortly.
  • Home inventory apps:
    • Sortly (iOS only)
    • Encircle (Android or iOS)
    • The Home Inventory (Android or iOS)

Using these tools to take an inventory of your home before disaster strikes can help to ensure you have the right level of insurance for your contents.

Taking Inventory for Home and Contents Insurance

If you don’t have time to create a full inventory, review your current policy and consider how much it would cost to replace everything you own. Then, take an inventory of your home using a video camera or digital camera. Remember to capture the contents in every room and closet. Also, be sure to open all cabinets and drawers. If you have expensive items stored out of sight, include those as well. Keep the video or memory card in a safe place, like a safety deposit box or a friend or family member’s home, so you’ll have detailed lists of contents to provide to the claims adjuster if something happens.

Special Coverage

Keep in mind that items like jewelry, artwork and collectibles may increase in value over time. Check with your insurance company to make sure that you have adequate insurance for these items. They may need to be insured separately, so it’s important that your insurance company knows about these items before a loss.

Be thorough when determining the value of the contents of your home, condo or apartment, and you’ll be well-prepared if something happens. Add contents insurance to get peace of mind both now and then.