Does Contents Insurance Cover Theft?

Here's everything you need to know about contents insurance and theft.

Team LemonadeTeam Lemonade

Have you ever had something snatched from you? Say, your mobile phone, laptop, or even a piece of jewellery? Unfortunately, at some point, nearly everyone will go through this very unfortunate (and terribly inconvenient) situation.  

According to Statistica,in England and Wales there were almost 1.5 million police-reported property thefts in 2020–2021. 

So other than wearing your backpack on your chest, or investing in some super heavy locks and installing an alarm system, how can you help soften the blow?

If your stuff is stolen inside or outside your home, contents insurance can help put some of that money back in your pocket! Your contents insurance policy can help alleviate some serious anxiety when it comes to theft—that is if you include your Theft and Loss add-on. That way, your mobile phone is insured on the train as is your laptop at the coffee shop.

But what does contents insurance actually cover you for?

Here’s what we’ll cover:

TL;DR
  • Contents insurance policy can help protect you and your valuable items. While your landlord or your home insurance is responsible for any damage to your walls or the structure of your home (within reason), they aren’t responsible for you or your personal items.  
  • Your basic contents insurance policy will cover most of your stuff for burglary or theft inside your home, including gadgets, furniture, clothing, and any other valuables—as long as you’ve purchased enough cover for ‘em!
  • Since your base policy only covers theft inside the home, you’ll have to purchase the Theft and Loss add-on to expand your cover to outside your home. This is like extra cover in the case that your mobile phone is pinched or your engagement ring completely disappears when you’re at the supermarket—or in Madrid! 

What is contents insurance?
When does contents insurance cover theft?
What if stuff was stolen outside of my home?
Does contents insurance cover high-value items?
Does contents insurance cover car or bicycle theft?
Does contents insurance cover stolen cash?
Does contents insurance cover stolen laundry?
Does contents insurance cover theft of other people’s belongings?
Does contents insurance cover theft by my housemate?
How can I prevent theft?

Stuff!

What is contents insurance?

Most people don’t know this but a contents insurance policy can help protect you and your valuable items. While your landlord or your home insurance is responsible for any damage to your walls or the structure of your home (within reason), they aren’t responsible for you or your personal items.  

Contents insurance typically includes three types of cover: contents, personal liability, and temp accommodation. 

Now, what do all of these mean?

  1. Contents cover: Helps pay to replace your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by a covered risk, such as theft, fire, windstorm, etc. (‘named peril). This is sometimes known as personal possessions cover
  2. Personal liability cover: Protects you if a guest is injured in your home, or if you accidentally damage someone else’s property
  3. Temp accommodation: Helps pay for things like your hotel bills or storage costs if your home or flat becomes unlivable, due to things like fire or windstorm

Note: If your claim is approved, your insurance company will reimburse you, minus your excess. Let’s say your £750 iPhone was stolen and your excess was £250. If your claim is approved, your insurer would pay you £500.
If you want to know more, read our ultimate guide on contents insurance and what it covers.

When does contents insurance cover theft?

Your basic contents insurance policy will cover most of your stuff for burglary or theft inside your home, including gadgets, furniture, clothing, and any other valuables—as long as you’ve purchased enough cover for ‘em!

What does ‘enough cover’ mean? 

For each coverage type discussed above (contents, personal liability, temp accommodation, etc.), your insurer will indicate how much cover—the maximum they can pay out if something happens.

So, if you choose to get £30,000 worth of contents cover to cover your stuff, your insurance company can pay you up to £30,000 for your stolen items. But if you choose only £10,000 worth of contents cover, and more than that is stolen, your contents insurance company can only pay up to £10,000 (minus your excess, of course).

Also, take note that there are a couple of instances when theft isn’t covered by contents insurance—aka exclusions. If you check your luggage on an airline, and they’re stolen in their possession, your contents insurance policy won’t cover you—because your item was in the possession of a third party.

Plus, if your insurer decides you were partially responsible for the theft due to negligence, like leaving the keys in your front door, or leaving your bicycle unlocked—they might decide not to approve your claim.

Now we’ve covered theft or burglary inside your house, what about outside your house?

Because, let’s be honest, that’s what most of us worry about when it comes to our personal belongings when we’re out and about. Since your base policy only covers theft inside the home, you’ll have to purchase the Theft and Loss add-on to expand your cover to outside your home. This is like extra cover in the case that your mobile phone is pinched or your engagement ring completely disappears when you’re at the supermarket—or in Madrid! 

New-for-old-cover

Here at Lemonade, if your theft claim is approved, in most cases you’ll receive the replacement cost back in your pocket (minus your excess, of course).

But what does this mean?

Think of new-for-old-cover as the “Amazon price” of how much your item (same make and model) would sell for today, if it were new.

That means, if you originally bought headphones for £300, and the current retail price for the same make and model is £250, £250 would be your replacement cost.

What if stuff was stolen outside of my home?

As mentioned, as long as you’d purchased the Theft and Loss add-on you’d be covered even if your stuff was stolen outside of your home. And what’s the radius of that cover? Your personal belongings are even covered from theft while you’re abroad! So, let’s say you’re on a business trip, and return to your hotel with your iPad nowhere to be found. Or, your phone was swiped while dancing at a music festival—your contents insurance policy could have you covered.

In short, there are a lot of common situations contents insurance covers you for.

Does contents insurance cover high-value items?

Once you’ve purchased your Theft and Loss add-on you’re covered for theft both inside and outside the home. But what about those super high-value items like musical instruments, works of art, or expensive sports equipment? Well, your basic policy will cover an item up until £2,000. If it’s worth more than £2,000 you’ll need to apply for some high-value item cover. High-value item (HVI) cover insures your most prized possessions, past £2,000, up to its full value (up to £50,000 per item).

Does contents insurance cover car or bicycle theft?

Contents insurance does cover bike theft—with the theft and loss add-on!

Whether your bike was stolen from your flat, or snatched outside the local gym, you’re covered. (On that note, here’s a handy guide to preventing bike theft in the first place.)

Take note that contents insurance doesn’t cover car theft. Cars are insured separately by your car insurance. However, contents insurance does cover you if your personal items, like a laptop or a suitcase of clothing, were stolen out of your car.

Does contents insurance cover stolen cash?

Yes, contents insurance covers stolen cash, but only up to £500.

Why only up to £500?

If unlimited cash was covered, it would be way too tempting to claim someone stole £10,000 worth of cash, in hopes of getting a quick payday.

So, if someone stole your backpack with your laptop, phone, and cash, you’d claim the cash along with the other items, and the excess would be subtracted from the total value of your stolen stuff.

Does contents insurance cover stolen laundry?

Yup! Contents insurance covers almost all of your belongings against theft, including your favourite pair of jeans and your go-to workout gear. 

So, if your laundry was stolen at the laundromat, or anywhere else, contents insurance would have your back.

Take note that if you’re paying someone to do your laundry (through a drop-off service, for example) and it’s stolen in their possession, your content insurance can’t cover you. 

Does contents insurance cover theft of other people’s belongings?

It depends. 

Under your contents policy, anyone related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption is automatically covered. So, if your husband’s noise-cancelling headphones were stolen, he’d be able to file a claim under your policy. Take note that all of your family members share personal property cover limits, so make sure to set those limits to amounts that reflects both of your needs.

For example, if your stuff is worth £20,000 and your husband’s stuff is worth another £20,000, you’re going to want to get £40,000 in personal property cover.

If you’re currently living with your significant other, but haven’t made it down the aisle, you’ll need to add them as an ‘additional insured’ on your policy, which costs just a little extra per month. 

BTW, you won’t be covered for business equipment that you might travel with from your office—however most large companies have their own insurance policies so you’ll likely be fine there.

Does contents insurance cover theft by my housemate?

As we all know, it’s a tricky situation if your housemate steals your stuff. 

If they’re also covered by your policy (as a spouse or someone related to you), then you’re not covered if they snatch your things.

Otherwise, your contents insurance can cover you, but there are a few things you’ll need to do. Firstly, your housemate would need to be a named suspect on a police report, and you’d have to elect to press charges against them.

Why? In order to cover this incident, your insurer will need to make sure it’s a criminal matter, rather than a civil dispute.

How can I prevent theft?

It’s great to have insurance when something is stolen, but let’s be honest—we’d really rather it not happen at all. Here are some ways to reduce the likelihood of theft:

1. Lock it up

When you move into your new house or flat, invest in some new locks! If you rent, your landlord might even agree to buy these for you. That way, you won’t have any creepy unplanned visits from old tenants, or be as vulnerable to burglary. Also, make sure to never write any part of your address on your keys (or anywhere else).

2. Keep your eyes open

If anyone asks to enter your home, always double and triple check. A ‘maintenance worker’ might want to enter under the guise of fixing something in the property—or they might claim your landlord sent them.

We’re more likely to be lax about security when it’s someone else’s property, but it’s good sense to never let anyone into your home unless you’ve been told first by your landlord.

Also, get to know your neighbours, and who comes in and out of the building regularly. If there are any unfamiliar faces lurking around, you might want to inform the authorities.

3. Get digitally secure

It may feel like it’s just you and your friends on the Gram, but be aware, cyberspace can be a dark place. Keep track of what sort of information you post online, and ensure your home address and phone number aren’t publicly available. Criminals can use clues like phone numbers or home addresses to potentially break into homes.

Let’s be honest, life ain’t a piece of cake. We encounter all sorts of obstacles along the way—and theft is, unfortunately, one of ‘em.

Getting contents insurance is just good sense and covers you for more incidents than just theft. No matter how much your belongings are worth, when s**t hits the fan, you’ll be glad you had contents insurance.

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Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.