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Top tips for protecting your prized possessions

Written by: Sue Green, head of home Insurance, Saga
If you could save just one item from your home in a fire, what would it be? A laptop? A smartphone? A secret stash of money? The deeds to the house?

Or would it be a photo album, a wedding dress or letters from a long lost love?

As we get older, the way we regard the relics of our past is subject to change, as we develop emotional ties and attachments to certain things that hold special memories. Everyone knows that the right home insurance policy will help to protect, or at least replace, items of financial value, but there are some items which are utterly irreplaceable. They might not fetch a high price, but they have tremendous emotional and sentimental significance.

According to figures from Saga Home Insurance, only 38% of us have taken the necessary steps to adequately protect our items – whether financially or sentimentally valuable – from water damage, and 47% from fire damage.

The question is: what can we do to keep both our sentimentally valuable items safe, alongside our financially valuable ones?

  1. For sentimental items that also have a high financial value (such as expensive jewellery, antiques and family heirlooms), ensure you have a high enough level of insurance cover. Some insurance providers impose single-item limits. These can vary from under £1,000 to up to £15,000, with the average generally being around the £1,500 mark. Speak to your provider to ensure all items can be adequately covered.
  2. Check you’re not already selling your contents short. Underinsurance is a common issue and could leave you high and dry in a serious situation. Take particular note of any rare sentimental items that might have appreciated in value over time, such as stamp or coin collections, vintage model cars or limited edition toys or figurines for example. Carrying out a thorough inventory of the items contained in each room within the house is a good place to start.
  3. Accidental damage regularly tops the list of reasons people claim on their home insurance, but some policies only offer limited cover for certain types of accidents. Making sure you understand exactly what you can claim for will save you any unwanted surprises in the future.
  4. Theft and vandalism are risks that are sadly out of your control, but something to be wary of particularly if you live in an area that has higher than usual crime rates. Joining a Neighbourhood watch programme and installing burglar alarms and security lights are useful ways to reduce the risk of vandalism.
  5. Protecting some sentimental items can be tricky as each type of material needs to be treated differently. Make sure you don’t destroy something precious by storing it incorrectly.
  6. Important paper documents should always be stored in a folder or storage container with plastic pocket sleeves as this will help protect from moisture, light and tearing. Go a step further with your legal/financial documents and store these in a fire-proof filing cabinet or safe.
  7. Avoid storing delicate items in damp places such as cellars, sheds and garages, or up against external walls, as these are prone to higher temperature fluctuations.
  8. Any important files that you have on your computer, such as photos, documents, or music, should be backed up securely using a variety of formats.
  9. Important occasions such as Christmas or a wedding can bring more expensive items into your home at certain times. Plan ahead to ensure all new valuables are accounted for.
  10. Review your policy as a matter of course each year at renewal, to ensure your cover continues to meet your needs. In between, changes in personal circumstances must always be flagged to your provider as and when they arise.

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