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Contents Insurance - Standard Cover 

Your basic contents policy will provide for everything within your home whilst it is in your home. It can be extended to provide some cover for certain items taken outside of your home. More about that later. Therefore your contents includes: Household goods and personal effects of every description. That is anything within your home that could conceivably be of a domestic nature and that is not part and parcel of your buildings. Not only your goods and personal effects but anything in your home that you are responsible for. e.g. you are looking after something for a social club you belong to, or your children are looking after some items they've brought home from school for the weekend or holiday.

Your contents include your aerials and satellite dishes for your tv and radio. Note that it does not include transmitting aerials for amateur radio. If you are in to this you should ask your insurer to extend the cover.

Telephones are included along with permanently installed domestic appliances (this is where you could have disputes between buildings and contents insurers if wordings vary). All mains supply meters are part of your contents. Exclusions are 'property more specifically insured', that means if there was another policy in force that specified the item, you should claim on the other policy.

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Then there is the accidental damage cover. This covers you for anything and everything that could possibly happen, unless it is listed in the exclusions. The 'onus of proof' is with your insurer. So if they reject your claim, they have to prove that the exclusion applies to your claim. Typical exclusions are:

Contact lenses (insure them via your optician).
Damage which is normal settlement and wear and tear etc.
Rot, mildew, rust, corrosion
Insects woodworm vermin
Dyeing, cleaning, repair or renovation.
Thus if you damage your clothes because the wrong washing machine setting - tough! There is no cover. What is vermin? The policy does not define this. Perhaps it should. Is a red squirrel vermin? Is a grey squirrel vermin? Is a fox vermin or a hedgehog? Where do you draw the line.

Interestingly there was a little press on this subject a couple of years ago. One insurer accepted a claim for impact by a squirrel that had sneaked into their home and knocked over a vase. Another rejected a similar claim on the grounds that they were vermin.

Many policies also exclude damage by domestic pets, but by no means all of them. I suggest that, unless the policy wording you have is crystal clear you should push for settlement. Insurers have to obey what is known as the 'contra proferatum' rule. This means that as they worded the policy, they have to accept the consequences if it is not crystal clear.


"The cost of replacing said spectacles was £71.30.
This is not an estimate as I have already bought them following a long conversation with a parking meter which I took to be a hyperthyroid bald dwarf."
Extracts taken from actual claim forms submitted to
a number of UK car insurance companies