High-Value Possessions — How to Make Sure They’re Covered by Your Insurance

Our last newsletter, on setting the right level of contents cover, seems to have sparked a lot of interest, judging from the questions we’ve received. Many of these have been about the thorny issue of high-value possessions.

What Are High-Value Possessions?

Put simply, a high-value item is any possession valued at above the allowed level specified in your insurance policy. Most people think in terms of jewellery and watches, but it could be books, art, collections, equipment or even clothing. And they’re not only at risk of burglary. Fire or flood can destroy possessions of high monetary or sentimental value.

You may have some idea of the value if you’ve bought the item yourself, though it may still be higher than you thought, but if you’ve received it as a gift the chances are you won’t know the value. If you’re in any doubt at all, it’s best to get items valued, and they should be specified in the policy if they’re above the value — otherwise, the Insurer’s loss adjuster is likely to refuse payment for them.

In almost every case Allied Claims comes across, the policy-holder assumed it would never happen to them. In one recent case, for instance, the claimant lost out on an entire £91,000 claim because they were under-insured and hadn’t specified several high-value items.

How Do I Make Sure I’m Covered?

It would be easier if there were a one-size-fits-all procedure, but the reality is that each Insurer has different criteria for what constitutes high value and what kind of proof you need for claiming. It’s up to you to check this, but the basic steps that are usually needed are:

  1. Identify the high-value amount per item set by the Insurance Company.
  2. Disclose and itemise each relevant piece in the policy.
  3. Photograph each item and keep all the photos in a safe place.
  4. Keep the original invoices if you’ve bought the item yourself.
  5. Have valuations done every few years for each item by a reputable dealer who knows what they are doing.

This won’t necessarily be all, though. The Insurer may well impose extra conditions, such as burglar alarms and safes, or they could require particular items to be kept in a safe depository. They need to be aware of the value to determine what’s necessary, though, and if you don’t inform them your insurance claim could be invalid.

How Much Insurance Cover Should You Have?

How much should you insure your possessions for? It’s a tricky question, since too low means you wouldn’t be able to replace everything if you made a claim, while too much means you’re wasting money on the premiums, and the Loss Adjuster will require the correct valuation when you claim. What you need is just enough cover.

In addition to the basic cover, contents insurance providers offer various add-ons. Perhaps the most important of these is Accidental Cover, which we’d advise taking up, while other extras like Legal Cover and Home Emergency Cover depend on the circumstances. If you’ve done the sensible thing and gone through an insurance broker, they’ll advise you on these.

Valuing Your Possessions

So how do you get an accurate valuation of your possessions? It’s a laborious job, but you only have to do it once. Just go from room to room putting each item and its value on a spreadsheet, not forgetting those obscure items (bike, barbecue, exercise equipment) that you used once or twice and stuck in the shed or attic.

You’ll be surprised how much it all adds up to — and the good news is that, once you’ve done it, you’ll only need to add new items as you get them.

For anything regarded as high-value by Insurers, you’ll need to make up a second spreadsheet. Anything worth more than the Insurer’s high-risk single item value must be itemised in the insurance policy, or the Loss Adjuster will refuse to pay out on a claim for those items.