How much contents insurance do you need?

Imagine if you came home one day and everything – and I mean everything – inside the house had vanished.  All that was left were bare rooms and a stunned look on your face. Radical as it may seem, when it comes to possessions, starting with an imaginary clean slate is a good idea because it forces you to think about what you really do value. Then, as you move through each room of the home, you can mentally note what furnishings and contents should go where and how much it would cost if you had to buy all new replacements right now.

Scary thought!

This immediately translates to how much you should insure the contents of your home for. Most people do a blanket “guesstimate” and then leave their contents policy as is for years on end – completely forgetting about all those new and improved gadgets, goods and furnishings they buy in the meantime.

It can be overwhelming thinking about everything that is in your home so breaking it down to a room-by-room inventory is an easier concept for most of us. You also need to work on replacement value, not on what the item is currently worth. For example, your couch might be quite old and might sell for $50 on Gumtre but the replacement cost for a similar couch might be $700.

Here are some thought starters to help you make an accurate list, with the eventual aim being to arrive at a contents insurance figure you are happy with and one that won’t fall way short if the worst happens.

Contents to insure in your kitchen

  • Fridge/freezer
  • Freestanding stove
  • Microwave oven
  • Toaster/slow cooker
  • Coffee maker/juicer
  • Other electrical items
  • Crockery/cutlery/glassware/pots/pans
  • Kitchen table/chairs/stools
  • Kitchen dresser
  • Food in pantry or fridge
  • Window blinds/curtains/floor mats

Plus don’t forget things like:

  • Wall artwork or clocks
  • Recipe books
  • Any other unique furnishings
  • Cleaning products/tea towels (yes, tea towels)
  • Table/chairs
  • Buffet unit
  • Servery
  • Drinks trolley

Contents to insure in your dining room

Plus don’t forget things like:

  • Framed artwork
  • Decorative pieces such as hand-forged candelabra
  • Tablecloths and runners
  • Designer floor rugs
  • Accent floor or table lamp
  • Lounge, of course – is it leather, fabric, reclining, with or without matching chairs?
  • Coffee table
  • Side table
  • Lamp, floor rugs
  • TV/Home Theatre/Music unit and console furniture to display it all
  • Computer/tablet/mobile phone

Contents to insure in your lounge room

Plus don’t forget things like:

  • Framed artwork
  • Decorative pieces
  • CD collection
  • CD case/bookcase
  • Coffee table books
  • Soft window furnishings
  • Pot plants
  • Decorative dresser
  • Hallway console/seat
  • Antique coat rack
  • Mirrors/decorative artwork

Contents to insure in your hallway/entry foyer

Plus don’t forget things like:

  • Hall runner
  • Clothes, shoes, boots, raincoats, umbrellas hanging in coat racks
  • Unique display pieces
  • Beds – single, bunk, double, queen, king
  • Bedside tables – lamps, books
  • Blanket boxes & stored bed linen
  • Freestanding wardrobes
  • Chest of drawers
  • Storage units/baskets of toys
  • Chairs
  • Dressing tables
  • Occasional tables
  • Desks, matching chairs
  • Bookcases
  • Framed artwork
  • Decorative display pieces
  • Window drapes
  • Designer floor rugs

Contents to insure in your bedroom(s)

Plus don’t forget things like:

  • All your clothes – whether housed in walk-in robes, freestanding or built-in robes
  • All your clothes that may be in the laundry.
  • Shoes, hats, handbags, scarves, undies, socks
  • Jewellery is often kept in a bedroom. What type and quantities of jewellery do you have?
  • Don’t forget the bed linen and doonas that were already on the made-up beds
  • Dressing gowns hanging up behind doors?
  • Toiletries in cupboards
  • Towel sets in use and stored
  • Freestanding furniture
  • Mats
  • Window drapes
  • Wall art
  • Decorator display pieces

Contents to insure in your bathroom(s)

Plus don’t forget things like:

  • Bathroom cleaning products, including brooms
  • Pot plants
  • Shower curtains
  • Toilet roll supply

Contents to insure outside

It can be easy to forget all those (often expensive) outdoor items when we’re calculating contents insurance, but as a starter think about:

  • Tools in the shed
  • Bikes, scooters, camping equipment, sports equipment
  • Car parts and other accessories in the shed
  • Pot plans
  • Barbeque
  • Deck chairs and other furniture
  • Hoses and fittings
  • Pretty much anything else you keep outside that could possibly be carried away.

There are countless other room configurations a home may have. For instance, your family may well relax in a Hollywood-style home theatre/media room. You may place great importance on playing pool in a specially set up “bar”. You might have a well-equipped home office with the latest computer gear.  A veranda will be furnished just right according to your taste. Each room is special in a way that means a lot to the individual owner and that’s why there’s no hard and fast rule for everyone and everything.

And then there’s the garage/storage room which is likely to be used as a junk dumping room. When doing an inventory of important items you can’t live without and would like to insure, this is the time to go through that “problem” room and sort out what you want to keep and what you want to give to charity. After a thorough cleanout, you’re likely to be left with tools, bikes, storage units, table, stools, even a couch – important stuff you value and will use.

After you have compiled your spreadsheet of what each room actually contains, think about the bigger picture. Do you opt for minimal furnishings in each room, prefer a comprehensively furnished look that’s not cluttered, or go for extensive furnishing where most storage space is full? Are you fussy about brands and quality joinery or just as happy with self-assembly no name brands?

This will help you decide what’s important to insure and what’s not. Most home and contents insurers have online calculators to help you map out what’s what. Check out how New Zealanders rated home and contents insurance providers in terms of customer satisfaction.

Oh, and one last thing you must not forget to add to your list under any circumstance – the vacuum cleaner. With the effectiveness, not to mention cost, of high-end vacuum cleaners these days, you will miss this hard worker if you can’t afford to replace it.

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