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Last updated: 23/07/2020

Are my clothes insured?

The average British woman owns 95 articles of clothing. Men have leaner wardrobes but, with 56 items of clothing, have also invested in everything from workwear to jumpers.

A fire or storm which damages your home could leave you with just the clothing on your back and facing a hefty bill to replace everything from shoes to winter coats. The standard home  policy will offer some cover for your attire. But clothes horses and avid shoppers, particularly those with designer items in their wardrobe, may need to beef up their policies.

In This Guide:

Are my clothes insured?

If you already have a home contents insurance policy, you will have some cover for your clothing. Therefore, you’ll be able to claim compensation if items in your wardrobe are damaged or destroyed due to an insurable event at home, such as a fire or a flood. Items typically won’t be covered outside of the home, such as when you’re on holiday.

However, a quarter of British households, or 7.5 million, don’t have a contents insurance policy, leaving billions of pounds of possessions, including clothing, uninsured. 

Even if you have cover, it may not be sufficient likely because you didn’t realise the value of the items on your clothes rail. Insurance provider Hiscox has found that more than a third of Britons don’t account for the value of their clothing when taking out a policy, leaving them underinsured. 

When calculating the sum insured on your home insurance policy don’t just focus on TVs and electronics: open your wardrobe and drawers and make a quick calculation of the amount you’ve spent on clothing. It might be higher than you think: the average Brit spends more than £1,000 on clothes each year. And don’t forget shoes, bags and those seldom-worn but important items like ski boots, swimsuits, tuxedos and gowns. Also consider items you didn’t buy yourself but rather received as gifts.

If you have a carefully curated wardrobe of designer clothing, a standard home contents insurance policy, with limits on the total payout and the amount you can claim for individual items, may not be sufficient. Make sure you know how to insure your racks of vintage Chanel and shoe collection worthy of Imelda Marcos.

Insuring high-value clothing

Home insurance policies typically set limits on the amount they’ll pay out for individual items. These maximums are usually between £500 and £1500, far below the cost of some high-value articles of clothing, such as designer handbags and fur or leather coats. If you own items with a worth over your policy’s single item limit, you’ll need to declare them to your insurer and have them listed separately on your policy. Adding extra high-value items to your policy will nudge up your overall premiums. You may also face a separate excess fee when you claim for these items.

Home insurance policies will typically also have a maximum amount they’ll pay out for all your possessions. When you , look at the maximum sum insured the policies offer: usually this will be between £50,000 and £100,000. If you have a particularly lavish wardrobe, stuffed with dresses and bags straight from the runway and Parisian boutiques, you may need to take out a high net-worth insurance policy, with a much higher or even unlimited sum insured. These policies can accommodate several high-value items, although you’ll pay a higher cost in premiums.

New for old versus indemnity cover for clothing

Clothing is usually covered, especially by  policies, on an indemnity basis. That means insurers will take into account the age and wear and tear on your clothing when issuing you compensation for it. So you won’t receive the price you paid for your favourite pair of jeans five years ago, but rather their value now—with the tear in the knees and the fraying. This means that even with an insurance payout, you’ll struggle to replace all the items in your wardrobe, unless you resort to secondhand chops.

Occasionally, insurance providers offer new for old cover for clothing, paying out the value of the item as new, thus enabling you to buy a brand-new replacement. New for old cover for clothing isn’t standard, however. If it’s important for you to fully cover your wardrobe, you’ll need to search the market, comparing numerous quotes, to find a policy which offers it.