Are your clothes covered?

17 September 2009

The average Brit spends nearly £1,000 on clothes, shoes and accessories, according to research from Hiscox, yet nearly two-thirds don’t know how much the contents of their wardrobes are worth - putting themselves at risk of underinsurance.

To coincide with London’s annual Fashion Week, the specialist insurer has commissioned ’Fashionable Finances’, a study investigating Britons’ spending habits.

Over a third of the survey’s respondents said they just didn’t think to include their fashion items under their home contents insurance, instead concentrating on big–ticket items such as TVs and furniture. A further 27% admitted they didn’t add up the value of their wardrobes when taking out their policy.

Austyn Tusler, a household insurance expert at Hiscox, points out that designer clothing, high-tech performance sportswear and outdoor clothing all add significant value to a typical wardrobe. He believes people are caught out by only considering their everyday items.

“When people consider their wardrobe, many think only of the current pieces they wear each season, rather than taking into account the wealth that has mounted up over the years,” Tuslet explains.

“One female customer, for example, gave us an estimate of around £3,000 to cover her wardrobe contents but, once we had reviewed it with her, the total was actually more than £25,000 – over eight times the value she had thought.

Many fashionistas are happy to spend between £200–400 a month on updating their wardrobe, according to Hiscox, with people buying three designer items on average each year. In total, the average wardrobe contents are valued at £2,838 with the most expensive costing £293. Some shoppers, though, will have an item valued up to £500 or more in their closet.

“It is important that people spend a bit of time totting up the costs of replacing their items to make sure their full wardrobe is covered,” Tusler explains. “That way, in the unfortunate event that they have to make a claim, they will have enough insurance cover to bring their wardrobe back to its fashionable best.”

Your home contents policy covers furniture, household goods, kitchen equipment, televisions, computer and audio equipment, personal items and valuables up to stated limits. And some contents insurance policies, such as M&S’s Premier home contents insurance, reward holders with unlimited cover on personal possessions in the home, provided they are listed. 

“The only stipulation is that policyholders should inform the insurer of any individual items, sets or collections worth more than £4,000," explains Simon Coughlin, spokesman for M&S Money.

Most policies will cover loss or damage to possessions while in the home caused by risks such as fire, theft and flooding. Policyholders can also often extend the cover to include accidental damage to all items, including clothing.

Items removed from the home, such as mobile phones but also any clothing are not always automatically covered for loss, theft or damage outside of the home and therefore sometimes require additional bolt–on cover.

Coughlin adds: “Households should consider the value of all of their contents within the home: less obvious items such as clothing or a music collection can greatly increase the value of your home contents.”

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