Best Contents Insurance 2016

Ronny Lavie By Ronny Lavie

Top 10 home contents insurance companies

1. Hiscox

2. LV=

3. Lloyds

4. John Lewis

5. Churchill

6. M&S

7 Nationwide

8. Tesco

9. More Than

10. Aviva

How we came up with our top 10

We looked at the level of contents cover on offer from the companies in our list of the 10 best home insurers, including cover limits and benefits, as well as customer reviews.

All of the providers in our top 10 have a 5 star rating from an independent financial research firm.

Here is a summary of the contents cover limits provided by our top 10 companies:

ProviderCover limit
HiscoxUnlimited
LV=Up to £150,000
LloydsUp to £75,000 for Standard policies or Unlimited for Premier
John LewisFrom £50,000 (depending on level of cover)
ChurchillUp to £50,000
M&SUp to £100,000 for Standard policies or Unlimited for Premier
NationwideUp to £100,000
TescoUp to £100,000
More ThanUp to £100,000
AvivaUp to £250,000

Please note, for three of the providers on our list – John Lewis, M&S and Nationwide – you need to start a quote, then choose 'contents only' after you put in your details.

Although it's not listed in our top 10, Together Mutual offers £75,000 of contents cover with it's Premier policy and £150,000 with it's Premier Plus cover. We offer an exclusive discount and a £20 M&S voucher with Together Mutual if you join our home insurance group.

What is contents only insurance?

Contents only insurance means your policy covers your possessions – such as furniture, decorative items, clothes, personal items and any other items you own where you live, not the building itself.

Basically, anything that would fall out of your home if you tipped it upside down is covered by contents insurance and the rest is covered by buildings insurance.

Some contents policies do cover windows and permanent fixtures (such as baths and built-in kitchen units), but this is often an optional extra and it will make your premium more expensive.

If you need buildings cover as well, read our guide to the best home insurance policies.

Who is contents only insurance for?

Contents insurance is for anyone who only needs cover for their possessions and not the building they live in.

Typically that includes people who own leasehold properties, people who are renting whole properties or flats, people who rent rooms as tenants or lodgers in other people’s homes and students.

It may be needed if you own a share of the freehold. Often the buildings cover is arranged by the all of the freeholders or a management company and it is up to you to buy contents insurance for your own home. It is also your responsibility to find out who is responsible for the buildings insurance and check it is in order.

Freeholders and landlords are responsible for buildings insurance, but if you are a leaseholder or tenant it is important to check a buildings policy is in place.

Most standard tenancy agreements and lodger agreements state that the maintenance and repair of the building is the landlord’s responsibility. The fixtures and fittings, as well as any other contents that belong to the landlord, are also their responsibility to insure.

However, your possessions are unlikely to be covered by your landlord’s policy, and therefore it is recommended you get separate contents cover.

Some insurers offer tenant’s liability cover either as part of their policy, or as an optional extra. This would cover you for damage you cause to your landlord’s property, including fitted furniture, interior decoration and drains.

It is important to note some companies will only cover your property if you share your house with family members (rather than your landlord or strangers). Check the policy documents carefully before you buy to insure you are covered.

Find more information about specialist landlord insurance here.

How much does contents insurance cost?

Contents insurance costs £124 a year on average, according to the research Bought By Many carried out for this article.

However, the cost of contents insurance varies greatly depending on the level of cover you choose and the items you insure.

You can compare the cost of insurance on price comparison sites such as Go Compare, but don't forget that some providers, including Aviva, are not on comparison sites.

Contents insurance for items kept in communal areas

Most providers only cover items that are kept within the boundary of your property. This may include the garden, a shed and possibly even the driveway, but not items left in shared gardens or communal hallways.

When it comes to bikes, they are usually covered if they are stored in communal hallways where all doors are locked and if the bike itself is secured to something solid.

However, some insurers say they will not honour a claim if there are no signs of forced entry, so you might lose out if your bike gets stolen by someone with access to the building or if they leave the door open.

Contents insurance for items outside of the home

Cover away from home is usually referred to as personal possessions cover and is included in some policies, like Hiscox, John Lewis, Nationwide and Lloyds.

For the other providers on our list, you can add it as an extra for an additional premium. This cover often extends worldwide so you can cover items like mobile phones and tablets while you are on holiday. That means you may be able to buy cheaper travel insurance because your gadgets will already be covered.

While items such as phones and laptops are usually included under this type of cover, they can occasionally be excluded so make sure you check the policy wording. In those instances, you may need a separate gadget insurance policy.

As a rule, jewellery is included in personal possessions cover, though it is important to note this cover comes with a ‘per item’ limit (the specific amount varies according to the provider).

If you own expensive jewellery, you will probably need to declare individual items and take extra care to confirm it is included in the policy (this is also true for jewellery you never carry outside your home).

Is home emergency cover worthwhile if the building is not your responsibility?

Home emergency cover is a part of home insurance that covers you for unexpected incidents, including burst pipes, a failure of your gas or electricity system and pests infestations. Home insurance companies that offer it will send out an engineer to fix the problem free of charge, but there are cost limits on what they can do.

Some providers offer it as standard, including John Lewis (Premier only).

It is usually only included in combined building and contents policies, but most providers do offer home emergency cover as an optional extra, so it can be added to contents policies as well.

While landlords and freeholders are responsible for maintaining the structure of the building, there could be limitations on what their liability covers. For example, damage to your property caused by flooding from pipes within the property may not be included (but this may already be covered as part of your contents insurance, so it’s worth reading the small print).

If you are renting, the boiler, central heating and plumbing are not your responsibility. However, it might be worth making sure your landlord has cover in case anything goes wrong.

If you are a leasehold owner, you are responsible for most of these repairs, so you might want to consider adding home emergency cover.

Find out how to get one of the best home emergency policies for free as part of your home insurance.

Our home insurance deals and more information

We have used the group buying power of our members to negotiate exclusive deals and discounts with home insurers.

It's free to join Bought By Many and become part of groups that offer up to 50% off home insurance and an M&S voucher or a £60 voucher with home insurance for over-50s.

We also have guides and offers on home insurance in flood risk areas, for specialist cover, and if you've been refused a quote.

You can see all of our deals here.

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