Many people feel that they can choose the amount of cover they want for their household contents. For example, you may be happy with only R200 000 and the associated premium, but it’s a misconception that’s unfortunately only properly understood when it comes time to make a claim.

You see, when you claim, the insurer will send out an assessor to check the full value of all your household items.

This includes things that you probably don’t realise make a difference to your insurance – the curtains, perfume, groceries, plastic containers and mountain of items stored in the garage that you never use. And don’t forget about the pictures on the walls, books, DVDs, toys and games.

The cover you take out should be enough to replace every single item in your house – even the inexpensive items or things that you don’t actually care about replacing.

As a practical example, if you are covered for R250 000 and have a break-in and claim for R60 000 worth of stolen items, an assessor will visit and take an inventory of all your household contents, and will verify that the items you are claiming for were indeed stolen.

Having proof of purchase or photos of items may prove very useful in this case.

If the assessed value of the household contents is R300 000, you are underinsured by 20% and your claim will thus be reduced by 20%.

Even though you are only claiming for R60 000 worth of stolen items, you will only be paid R48 000 because you are underinsured.

Most insurance-related complaints arise because most people do not understand that household insurance must be based on all the items in your home.

A quick way to ensure that you have enough cover is to take an inventory of all items in your house, room by room.

Include items stored in boxes under the bed or in the cupboard, and remember your garden, garage and other storage areas.

Think about the cost of buying new and similar items – from pillows and duvet covers to lawn mowers and entertainment systems.

This should give you a fair estimate of what you should be covered for.

Don’t be caught out when it’s too late – take out the correct cover now and rest assured that your claim will be processed fairly.

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