Contents cover: does car insurance cover personal possessions?

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Some car insurance policies cover personal belongings that are damaged or stolen while in your vehicle.

There are limits to how much you can claim, though. And in some cases, your insurer might not pay out at all.

Here's everything you need to know 👇

Report stolen personal belongings to the police as soon as possible

Tell the police as soon as you can if items have been taken from your car (or if your car has been stolen. )

The police need to log the incident in the Police National Computer (PNC) and will start investigating your stolen items.

They'll also give you a crime reference number, which you'll need if you make an insurance claim.

How to report stolen belongings 🚨
Step 1: Contact the police Step 2: Get a crime reference number Step 3: Make an insurance claim.

Most comprehensive car policies include cover for personal possessions

Depending on the type of car insurance policy you have, your things might not be covered.

Most comprehensive car policies include personal belongings cover as standard.

Third party, fire and theft and third party-only policies are less likely to cover personal items.

Check your policy documents to see if your personal belongings are covered before leaving them in your car. If anything's not clear, get in touch with your insurer and they'll be able to help!

Here's our insurance expert Cam with a bit more about the different types of car insurance 👇

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Most insurers need evidence that you owned the stolen or damaged items

You'll need to give your insurer lots of details about your stolen items when making a claim.

Claiming will be quicker if you've got:

  • A crime reference number
  • Your name and address
  • Your car policy number
  • Details about your personal belongings
  • Details about the theft

Insurers will ask for proof that you owned the items you're claiming for, such as a receipt or proof of purchase. They may also ask for photographs of your belongings and the car if it was broken into.

It's important to give accurate details about your damaged or stolen belongings. Knowingly giving false information could mean that your insurer invalidates your policy. That means they won't pay out for your claim, and you'll have to tell other insurance companies about it in future. 🚫

Make sure you're accurate when claiming for stolen possessions
Make sure you're honest when claiming for stolen possessions

There's usually a cap on how much you can claim for personal possessions

Most car insurance companies limit how much you can claim for personal possessions. Cuvva, for example, will pay £100 towards personal belongings if lost or damaged in an accident, or by fire or theft.

You may be able to get your personal possessions limit increased with some insurers, but this could make your policy more expensive.

Some insurers also include another limit called a "percentage value clause." This means they'll only replace items up to a certain percentage value of your car. For example, a policy might only pay up to 10% of a car's value towards lost damaged or stolen personal possessions.

This means that if your car's worth £6,000, you'd only be able to claim a maximum of £600 for your personal belongings. It's really important to check how much your policy will pay out so you don't leave items that go above the value limit in your car.

Bonus reading 📚
Confused about claims? Here's everything you need to know. Learn more.

Most insurers won't pay out for personal possessions if they're not hidden

Your car insurer may reject your claim if:

Items are left in view

Most car insurers won't pay out if they can prove your items were left in plain sight.

This is because it makes criminals more likely to break into your car and steal your belongings.

Be sure to keep your personal possessions hidden in a safe place such as the glove box or boot.

If you have a convertible or soft-top car, your insurer might only cover items locked in your boot. 🔑

There's no forced entry

Your insurer may reject your claim if there are no signs of someone breaking into your car.

This is because it suggests that you didn't keep your car secure by locking the doors or closing the windows properly.

You have no proof of purchase

You won't be able to make a claim for personal possessions unless you have proof that you owned the items.

It's really important to keep receipts of the items you regularly keep in your car.

Taking photos of your personal possessions can also help your case when making a claim.

Items are excluded from your policy

Things like cash, credit cards, jewellery and business items usually won't be covered

This means that you won't be able to make a claim for them if they're stolen or damaged.

Check your car policy before leaving anything in your car, to make sure that it's covered.

How long does a claim last? 🤔
Making a claim for personal possessions could affect your no claims bonus. Learn more

Your excess may affect your personal possession claim

It's worth thinking about your excess before making a claim for your personal belongings.

The excess is a sum of money you pay towards a car insurance claim. It usually starts at around £250 but can vary between insurers.

If your items aren't that valuable it may be better to cover the cost of repairing or replacing them yourself.

Personal possessions claims may affect your no claims bonus

You could lose some or all of your no claims bonus if you make a claim for personal possessions through your car insurance.

Having a claim on your record could also make your car insurance more expensive in the long run.

So it's worth thinking about whether claiming for your damaged or stolen items is worth the extra car insurance costs in the future.

Most insurers have a limit on how much you can claim for personal possessions
Most insurers have a limit on how much you can claim for personal possessions
Excess explained 🧠
The excess is a chunk of money that you pay towards an insurance claim. Find out more in our excess guide. Learn more

Alternative options to protect your personal possessions

Home contents insurance may be able to cover damaged or stolen personal items from your car.

If regularly you keep expensive technology such as a laptop, tablet or phone in your car, it may be worth taking out a specialist mobile or gadget insurance policy.

It depends on your insurer, though, so always ask.

PS - we've got a separate guide on van contents and tool cover here.

Updated on 3rd April 2023