Many people own something of such value that if they lost it, or had it stolen, they would struggle to be able to afford to replace it.
It could be a lovely piece of jewellery, such as a ring with a precious stone set in it, or perhaps a very expensive bicycle worth several thousand pounds. Whatever the item is, without home insurance in place, it might either be a struggle to find the cash for a replacement, without it hurting hugely financially, or completely unaffordable.
What constitutes a ‘valuable’?
Definitions of what exactly is a ‘valuable’ vary between policies as insurers can set their own rules.
Certain types of valuables are often defined separately as they can be particularly attractive to thieves, or easy to break if extremely delicate, and expensive to mend, such as costly mobile phones, antiques, sunglasses and watches.
What do most policies cover?
Decent quality policies should cover most, if not all, of the valuables mentioned above for loss or theft, and possibly accidental damage too if the policy has it (if not, it can nearly always be added on at little extra cost), as standard.
A policy’s terms might define ‘valuables’ as:
Jewellery, antiques, gemstones, watches, furs, paintings and other works of art, such as sculptures, stamp, coin and medal collections, gold and silver objects and other precious metals.
Don’t assume you’re covered!
It would be wrong to assume that your policy will automatically cover you no matter what the item is, how much it’s worth, and the circumstances leading to the claim.
As individual possessions can be almost limitlessly valuable insurers have to set limits on how much you can claim for any individual item (as the Picasso painting just sold in New York for $179million shows!).
Valuables claim limits
Claim limits are defined for ‘single items’. Policies usually also set a limit for how many claims can be made in a policy year.
A typical single item claim limit would be between £1,500 and £2,000 per item, while the number of claims allowed varies considerably between insurers.
Items which are worth more than the limit, or are particularly rare, delicate or exceed the limit as a set, but not individually, need to be defined to your insurer.
It may be that the insurer won’t charge you anymore if you only have one or two items close to the claim limit, but they do need to know about them so that your premiums can be adjusted if necessary.
Insurers may exclude what they decide to define as ‘valuables’ altogether; cheaper policies might even exclude ‘jewellery’ completely, for example.
While others, even relatively ordinary standard policies, might exclude ‘valuable’ items such as bicycles worth more than £500, for example (as they’re so commonly stolen or broken), expensive laptops, items with precious stones, works of art, valuable antiques, medal and stamp collections and other ‘valuables’.
It largely comes down to value
Essentially, and assuming the ‘valuable’ as defined by the insurer hasn’t been excluded from the policy, it comes down to what a possession is worth, rather than whether it’s in the insurers ‘valuables’ definition list.
An expensive computer, or home audio system might not be defined as a ‘valuable’ in the policy terms, for example, but if the item’s worth thousands of pounds, you still might not be able to claim unless you’ve told the insurer about it.
A note on collections and sets
Policies often place limits on the number of items which come as a pair, or in sets, that can be claimed for. So a pair of silver candles might be allowed, but if there are three or more, you might only be able to claim for two.
Again, this is to limit the insurer’s liability. It can potentially be worded in the policy documents to mean that the single item claim limit applies to “any item, collection or set”.
This means that if each individual item in a set were worth, say, £1,000, and 10 of them were stolen, you might only be able to claim a maximum of £2,000, if that were the maximum claim limit allowed for a single item, for example.
Check your policy carefully and get valuations
How insurers approach single item claim limits and what may or may not be included or excluded as a ‘valuable’ very much depends on the policy, so check the terms and conditions carefully.
If you’re uncertain about the value of any items you own, call your insurer or insurance broker and they’ll help point you in the right direction to get it valued.
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