When purchasing a home insurance policy, remember to give extra consideration to what “stuff” you actually have. Whether you own your home or condo, and even if you’re renting, keep in mind that your insurance company doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. You need contents insurance to protect yourself financially in case your belongings are lost or suffer damage.
What exactly is contents insurance?
Your belongings are typically referred to as your “contents” on a home insurance policy. It’s the stuff you own. This refers to everything in your home that occupies space in every room, your basement, your closets, and storage rooms on your property. Don’t forget about your garage and any sheds in the backyard, either!
Your belongings can be damaged or lost in a fair number of ways that we often don’t expect:
- Electronics can be ruined by water damage from a burst pipe.
- Natural disasters like tornados or overland flooding can damage your stuff.
- Stuff could be lost to a house fire.
- Your belongings could be damaged while moving between houses.
It’s easy to forget about the things that you don’t look at every day, which is why it’s worth listing your property at least once so that you know how much coverage you want. It might even be best to list it all room by room.
How much is home and contents insurance on average?
A limit for your contents insurance will usually be predetermined when you first purchase your policy. Each insurance company may calculate this limit slightly differently, but it tends to represent approximately 30% of the cost to rebuild your home. The company’s home contents value calculator can figure this out, but always get a second opinion on any home contents value calculator you find out there.
For example, if the cost to rebuild your home is $500,000, your contents coverage will be calculated at about $150,000.
In a tenant or condo insurance policy, your contents coverage limit is set by you without the use of a home insurance calculator. In this case, it’s important for you to determine the appropriate amount of coverage on your own. Insurance companies will sometimes have general rules, but these are established to help you as a guideline or point of reference. For example, they may say that the typical 1-bedroom apartment may have about $25,000 worth of contents, and a 2-bedroom may have about $35,000 worth of content, but you can set it at whatever you like.
Note: If you have listed or scheduled property with its own special coverage, then that item would be claimed under that policy first. This would cover heirlooms, highly expensive jewelry, or very rare items kept in your home.
Home contents insurance checklist
It’s easy to forget about the things that you don’t look at every day. You should go through your home room by room to figure out what you own and how much it all costs, but we know that sucks so we made this home contents list for you to use instead.
Start making estimated values for your contents insurance with this list:
- Everyday clothes
- Formal clothes
- Shoe collection
- Coats and sweaters in the front closet
- Winter accessories (hats, scarves, gloves, ear muffs)
- Bedroom bookshelf
- Office bookshelf
- Cookbooks and “bathroom readers”
- Magazine collections
- Old college books
- Television and stand
- Mobile phones
- Landline phones
- DVD or Blu-ray player and movie collection
- Smart home systems
- Video game consoles and game collection
- Clothes washer
- Clothes dryer
Kitchenware and minor appliances
- Silverware set
- Wine glasses, coffee mugs
- Liquor cabinet collection
- Specialty cooking utensils
Office furniture and supplies
- Notes and files
- Filing cabinet
- Recliner chairs
- Mattress and box spring
- Bed frame
- Bedside tables
- Dining room table and chairs
Dressers and wardrobes
- Collectible sets (stamps, cards, etc.)
- Jewelry and mementos
- Electric razor
- Hair dryer
- Shower curtain
- Floor mat
- Cleaning supplies
That should cover most of what you own, if not all of it. Think about the cost to replace those items individually and then add them up to get the replacement cost you’ll need to get for your home contents insurance policy, especially if you’re renting.
Pro tip: Have a place up north? Remember any belongings that could be covered under your cottage insurance policy, too!
What does “contents limit” mean?
Your contents limit is the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay out in the event they have to reimburse you as a result of a claim (it’s an important home insurance term worth knowing). But in addition to understanding what your total limit is, it’s also important to review your insurance policy for any specific category limits that your policy may have.
For example, insurance companies may have maximum limits for individual items such as jewelry, watches, fine art, and even bicycles just to name a few. But not to worry, because if you have an individual item that exceeds the limit for that category, you still have options to insure the full value of these items on an individual basis. This is referred to as “scheduling” these items which is a conversation to have with your broker. So if you have a $10,000 bicycle, but your policy has a maximum limit on bicycles set at $2,500, unless you schedule this bike you would only be entitled to the maximum benefit of $2,500 should you file a home insurance claim.
Not sure what your contents insurance limit is? Get a 3-minute quote with us to find out what yours looks like.