Are you fully insured for Christmas?
But it's also a time when we are at higher risk of being burgled, as thieves stalk our streets looking for the added bonus of all those expensive gadgets sitting under the tree.
This is where contents insurance can be worth its weight in gold. It covers the damage or loss of possessions in your home you would normally take with you when you move. You can also include cover for accidental damage and items take away from the home, such as a camera, MP3 player or laptop, although adding on items does tend to increase the cost.
Are my presents covered?
It's essential to know what's covered and what's not - getting it wrong could cost you thousands of pounds. Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, explains: "Most contents policies recognise people have expensive gifts in the house around Christmas time by increasing the sum insured. The policy might also specify what this increase in the sum insured is, say, £5,000.
This covers presents you are planning to give as well as those you receive."
For example, LV= gives you an extra 10% contents cover in the month leading up to Christmas and the month after, covering presents, food and drink.
Pratt adds: "As ever, it's important to check your policy for the details of cover you've bought. If you don't have cover under the policy, give your insurer a call and ask for them to extend it. You'll have to pay a bit more premium, but you'll get peace of mind.
"It's also worth checking if your contents policy has accidental damage cover – this would pay out if, for example, someone spilt a glass of red wine over your carpet or an ornament was knocked over and broken at a party."
Does my contents insurance cover presents outside the home?
Not always. It is important to remember your contents insurance will not cover you for presents you have taken out of the house. For example, if are lucky enough to be proposed to this Christmas, your ring will not be covered by your contents cover when you are outside the house (research by LV= found one in 20 rings end up lost, so make sure you're covered).
If you want a present to be covered outside the home, you'll have to specifically add it to your insurance. Many contents insurance policies will cover listed items up to a value of £1,500 (check your policy to see what you are covered up to).
At Christmas, most kids want the latest gadget, whether it's an iPhone 5S or a new tablet, so what's the best way to ensure you're covered? Is it better to add the gadget to your contents insurance or take out a separate gadget policy?
Kevin Pratt at MoneySuperMarket recommends considering specialist gadget insurance, instead of letting your contents insurance cover the risk, as gadget cover is more extensive and will cover you outside of your home.
He adds: "A gadget policy will have a lower excess than a contents policy – the excess is the amount you pay towards a claim, and a £100 contents policy excess could mean it's not worth claiming for a low-cost device, especially as you would lose any no claims bonus and probably trigger a premium increase next time you came to renew."
No claims bonus
A discount on a car insurance premium as a reward for having not made a claim on the policy. The NCB is earned for every year of claim-free driving; a driver will earn another year’s NCB to a maximum of five years. The actual discount on the insurance premium will depend on the insurer. If you make a claim, your insurance company may reduce your discount by a number of years so you have to “earn” these over again or it may revoke the NCB entirely. Motorists can generally transfer their NCB across to another insurer and can pay an additional premium to protect it so should they have an accident, the NCB remains intact.
This is more usually a feature of car insurance but it can also crop up in contents, mobile phone and pet insurance policies. An excess is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance company starts paying out. The excess makes up the first part of a claim, so if your excess is £100 and your claim is for £500, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer the remaining £400. Many online insures let you set your own excess, but the lower the excess, the more expensive the premium will be.
Does exactly what it says on the tin: covers the contents of your home for theft and damage and also may insure certain possessions (jewellery, cycles) outside of the home. Things to watch for include the excess and also the maximum payout on individual items. Another grey area is kitchen fittings, as some contents policies say these are not contents but part of the fabric of the property and covered by buildings insurance and some buildings policies don’t cover them because they regard them as contents.