A guide to personal possessions cover

Cover for your high value items while you are away from the home

Home insurance

25 August 2020

Covered away from your home - what is personal possessions insurance?

If you have high-value items that you regularly take out with you, such as a smartphone, laptop or camera, then it’s likely you’ll also want to keep them protected when you take them out of your home. Personal possessions insurance protects your valuable personal belongings from theft, loss or damage whenever you take these with you outside.

It can be a common misconception that personal possessions cover is already included as part of a standard home insurance policy. However, this is not always the case. If your personal possessions are stolen, damaged or lost inside your home, this should be covered by your standard policy, but not when these things happen outside your home. This is how personal possessions insurance can help you - you can keep your valuable items covered if something goes wrong when you are out and about.

What does ‘personal possessions’ mean and what can I claim?

Personal possessions are items that you would normally wear, use or carry either in, or out of your home. There are many common personal possessions that you can have insured as part of your policy, such as:

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Still, or video cameras and equipment
  • Keys
  • Jewellery
  • Wallets, purses and handbags
  • Sporting equipment
  • Musical equipment

While these are some of the more common personal possessions that are covered, they are by no means the only ones. There’s less common items that you may wish to insure as part of your policy, if they hold value to you.

If you are unsure about the level of cover you may need, you can gauge this based on the combined value of the items you wish to insure. For example, if the most you ever regularly take outside your home with you is your smartphone worth £500 and a laptop worth £1,000, then you should look to select an insured sum of £1,500.

The level of cover offered by every insurer is different. Here at AXA, we offer up to £2,500 included as standard with our HomeSafe policy, though this can be increased up to £30,000 as an added cover option.

Is stolen or lost money insured?

With personal possessions insurance cover, your money is typically covered in case of loss or theft. AXA’s personal possessions insurance covers you for loss, theft or damage of coins, banknotes and cheques, amongst several less common payment methods such as savings stamps or money orders. However, it doesn’t cover credit cards, cheque cards or cash dispenser cards.

For full details of what you are covered for, always check your policy details and wording thoroughly.

Can I take out stand-alone personal possessions insurance?

Personal possessions insurance is only available as an add on to a home insurance policy, and as such, it cannot be purchased as a stand-alone policy. However, depending on your requirements, there may be other policies available that are well suited to your needs.

It is worth noting that if you do decide to invest in personal possessions insurance, the best time to do this is at the start of your policy. Alternatively, you can consider adding the cover to your policy at your home insurance renewal date.

Is there anything that invalidates my cover?

Various, avoidable things could render your claim invalid, so it is important that you manage your expectations and know what is, and isn’t, acceptable when it comes to making a claim. What your cover allows will be dependent on your individual policy details. However, the following things are generally likely to invalidate any claim:

  • General wear and tear
  • Damage caused by normal and regular use (for example, equipment used for sports or hobbies)
  • Thefts from cars or vans if the item was visible from outside (for example, sitting on the seats, floor or dashboard) and the vehicle was left unattended
  • Items used for business purposes

What does ‘reasonable care’ mean, and how does it affect my claim?

Reasonable care is a phrase that often comes up in personal possessions policies, and it is something that can possibly invalidate your claim if ignored. Reasonable care is the action of taking proper precautions to prevent theft, loss or damage of your items.

For example, if your purse is stolen from your car, your claim may be invalidated if you are found to have left the item sitting out in the open on your passenger seat. This is because you failed to show reasonable care, such as storing the purse out of sight in the glove compartment or boot.

Similarly, if you lose your phone on the train but didn’t take the care to have it in a zipped coat pocket or a closed handbag, this shows a lack of reasonable care to protect the item and could result in an invalidated claim.

Personal possessions cover for students

If you are a student, then you may be wondering if personal possessions insurance will cover belongings that you keep in student accommodations or a privately shared home. Some policies will allow children’s belongings, even those at university, to be covered under a parents’ personal possessions policy. However, this varies from provider to provider so ensure you are always checking a policy’s wording thoroughly.

With AXA, your policy will not cover a student’s belongings when they are staying outside your registered home. However, AXA offers a dedicated student cover add-on that may be better suited to a student’s needs. With this add-on, students will be able to cover items such as laptops, tablets, headphones, smartphones and anything other valuable items that they may have while studying away from home. It’s worth knowing that this cover only applies while these items are in the student’s accommodation, and not while they are out and about. The student’s belongings will be covered in case of storm or flood, theft, collision, falling trees, fire, explosion, lightning or earthquake or malicious acts.

Personal possessions abroad – do I still need travel insurance?

Something that may be on your mind is whether or not your policy will cover your possessions while you are abroad, and this is something that depends on the insurer. Some providers will cover you while you are abroad for a set period, while others won’t. Check your policy wording for more information.

AXA’s personal possessions cover extends to anywhere in the world so that you can rest assured that your belongings are still covered even when you are abroad. However, it is important to consider using this cover alongside your usual travel insurance to ensure you are getting the best protection you can.