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60 seconds The 'all risks' add-on: Cover to bolster your home insurance

Sam D

Many people know home insurance covers you for theft or damage to your goods INSIDE your own property, but what about when you're out and about?

Most policies don't cover contents outside the home as standard, but you can bolt on an extension so they do. This is usually called either 'all risks' or 'personal possessions' insurance. Here's what it means.

All risks or personal possessions cover protects property outside your home. Tell me more. This add-on to your regular home insurance policy insures your items for damage and theft when you're out and about away from your home. It also covers your items while you're abroad – for up to 60 days a year.

It is not included as standard on most policies so you'll usually have to either ask your insurer to add it on at extra cost (explained later), or tick an extra box if buying online. Confusingly, it has many different names but you'll usually find it called one of the following: 'all risks cover', 'unspecified personal possessions', 'personal effects', 'personal belongings away from the home'.

It covers you for anything portable such as gadgets, jewellery and clothing if you lose them, they're damaged or stolen. The policy is designed to cover your items when out and about as if you were in the home. So if your iPad is swiped by thieves from your handbag, your watch damaged in a fall or you lose your mobile phone in a cafe, it'll pay out.

Most insurers settle on a 'new for old' basis although this isn't always the case with clothing, so you'll need to double-check if this is important for you.

But it isn't just as simple as offering cover for everything in your home once you take it outdoors, though: it only covers items you'd reasonably carry with you or that you would normally wear on you.

Which items will I be covered for?

Lending household items such as kitchenware to friends? You won't be covered. Household items you wouldn't normally carry with you but that you might take to a friend's house or lend to them won't be covered in the event of loss.

So if you lend a desktop computer including monitor and speakers as a favour to a friend and it's all stolen from their home, you won't be covered. Similarly, lend them a microwave oven for a party which is then damaged in a fire, you won't get a payout. You'll also need to watch out for the small print on the following items:

Sports equipment

Musical instruments

Mobile phones


Ordinary wear and tear

Work out the value of what you need covered so you don't overspend. When you choose the add on, you must decide the value of goods you want insured outside the home.

Say you wanted cover out and about for a £500 bike, £500 camera and £400 iPad; you'd choose a round figure of £1,500 worth of so-called 'unspecified items' cover. You can generally choose any level up to £12,500 as standard on policies – the higher the limit, the greater the cost. If you want to insure more than this, contact your insurer.

You may have to pay separately or declare pricey items. As a rule, any single item to be insured out and about worth more than £1,000 will be deemed to pose a greater risk of being stolen (though some insurers have a higher £2,000 limit, so check). It's known as providing cover for – here's another bit of industry jargon – 'specified items', so look for this wording in policy T&Cs.

It typically applies to jewellery, designer watches and electronic goods such as high-end laptops but can also include high-tech bikes. If you've a single item worth more than the policy limit that you want protected, you'll have to call your insurer to list it individually on the policy – and they'll usually want proof of purchase and value if you have to make a claim.

The amount to trigger this 'specified item' action will vary between insurer. Any number of 'specified items' will push up the cost of the all risks add-on. If you carry a lot of valuable gadgets, eg, a laptop, tablet and smartwatch, then gadget insurance could be worth considering.

Insurer                                                      Value of single item above which you'll need extra cover
Admiral £1,000
LV= £1,500
Legal & General £1,500
Churchill £2,000
Zurich £1,500
Aviva £2,000
Direct Line £2,000

How much does it cost? What you'll pay will depend entirely on your home contents policy – and that in turn depends on your postcode, how much you insure and your claims history.

As an indication, our research found the annual cost of adding £1,000 of personal possessions to a home contents policy ranged from £12 to £15; for £2,500 of personal possessions cover, between £16 to £26 a year; and for £5,000 cover, £32 to £49.

Be prepared for a higher premium if you include very expensive jewellery on the policy. Add a £5,000 ring, say, as a specified item to cover outside the house, and you'll see the premium rise considerably.

Our research shows you'd expect to pay a typical extra £80 a year for this to be covered while out and about. And remember, this will be on top of the cost of the add-on itself.

Got kids at uni? They can benefit too. If you've got children studying at university with a mobile or laptop, your add-on can give them extra protection too.

And don't forget it's already the case that your home contents insurance may automatically cover them against theft or damage under the 'temporarily removed from the home' section while they're a student. The cover only applies for the items while they're in their student digs and as long as their parents' home remains their main permanent address (see Student MoneySaving for more tips 'n' tricks).

Any claim on the add-on will affect your home contents policy. You'll have to pay an excess (usually, but not always, the same as that picked by you for the original policy) for each claim. However, any claim you do make will affect your premium at renewal – and affect any no-claims discount you may have built up.

Be careful to conceal your items in a car. One of the add-on's biggest selling points is a payout if your items are pinched from a locked, unattended car. However, most won't pay out if you haven't locked your item in the boot (and hidden it from view) or concealed it in a glove compartment.

Leave a handbag under a coat on the front seat or wrap a tablet in a jumper on the floor, and you won't be covered. Most car insurance includes an element of this already, known as 'personal effects' cover. However, it's generally limited to a total of £200 regardless of what was stolen.

Is the add-on worth it? A personal possessions add-on is a policy that everyone should consider. Whenever you step outside the home, you'll usually be carrying a mobile, wearing jewellery, sporting a bag and perhaps wearing an expensive article of clothing – and because we do it daily, it's easy to forget just how much it's all worth.

Think of it as a portable home insurance policy you can take wherever you go – if your personal items are stolen, lost or damaged, the add-on will pay for it to be replaced. It's a small outlay in comparison to the cost of replacing it.

Put bluntly, whether to get it will also boil down a pertinent question: are you a loser? We don't mean to call you names, rather that if you're likely to leave a bag or wallet in the back of a taxi or have a tendency to be accident-prone, then the add-on will be worth it.

But if you're more careful and make a habit of taking extra caution with valuable goods when in public, then you'll have much less need of it. It will be a question of your attitude to risk.