How much is your stuff really worth?

LIFESTYLE | October 2019

As we travel through life accumulating belongings, it would be great if there was a magic calculator adding it all up as we go. It would certainly make renewing your contents insurance easier!

But this magic calculator doesn’t exist yet so you need to be your own contents value calculator.

To make this task easier, here’s a recommended approach:

Step 1: Get your head around the jargon

When you’re getting acquainted with contents cover, you’ll come across a bunch of words and terms that you might be a little confusing. Here’s a quick glossary to help with this:

  • Contents – the things you own that are not part of the house (i.e. fitted wardrobes, kitchen cabinets and bathroom fittings don’t count as contents). Rugs, blinds and curtains count as contents as well.
  • Market value - an item’s current value, allowing for its age and condition. Sometimes called ‘present day value’ or ‘indemnity value’.
  • Replacement value - the cost of buying a brand new replacement item.
  • Premium – what you pay each fortnight, month or year for insurance cover.
  • Specified items – items that have a value higher than the limit stated in the policy wording (usually things like jewellery, art, collectables, antiques and musical instruments). To have these items covered, you need to list them on your policy.

Step 2: Make a list for each room and work out the values

This is the most tedious part of working out your contents value. You have to go from room to room cataloguing what you own and putting a value next to it. Check your policy wording to find out whether the item category gets market value or replacement value cover. For market value, refer to a site like Trademe to work out what an item is worth. For replacement value, go to an appropriate retailer website to see what it would cost to replace the item with a brand new product.

When you’re going around your house, remember to look in drawers, cupboards and storage spaces. Also check out the contents of your fridge-freezer and pantry (food counts as contents) and grooming products in your bathroom. Then check outdoor living areas and the garage. Everything from your barbeque to garden tools needs to be considered on your contents list. Sporting equipment too!

While you’re creating your contents list, take photos of what you own. These images could be very handy if you ever need to make a claim.

Step 3: Total it all up

You might get a shock when you see the grand total. The surprise will almost certainly come from a figure that’s bigger than you anticipated, and that’s why guessing the value of your contents is not a great strategy. If you don’t accurately calculate the value of all your possessions, you run the risk of being under insured.

Step 4: Make a separate list of items to specify

Some of your belongings may need to be specified with your insurer to be covered. We’re talking about jewellery, collectables, art, musical instruments, among other things. Read your policy wording carefully to see what the item limits are. To get cover for pieces that exceed their category limit, you need to specify them on your policy and you may need valuations from an expert if you ever need to claim on that item, i.e. a jeweller, art gallery, antique specialist.

Step 5: Check your total using an online calculator

Our contents calculator helps you work out the value of the contents in your home using values supplied by Sum Insured Pty Ltd.

Using general information about your home, the calculator works out an approximate value of your contents as well as a summary that you can edit further for a more accurate result if you wish.

Step 6: Get an accurate quote from your insurer

When the total value of your contents is different to what’s showing on your renewal notice, you should contact us to get it updated.

State offers two levels of cover.

Contents Comprehensive - The full cover option. We repair or replace most items, regardless of age, up to the amount you choose to insure them for. You’ll also be covered for up to $1 million if you accidentally damage someone else’s property or cause injury.

Contents Essentials - The budget friendly cover. Ideal for covering your stuff for specific events like fire or theft. A straightforward policy covering your contents for present value.