What is household effects? And what is insured in the home contents insurance?

What is household effects? What is insured in the household contents insurance, and what damage to the household contents may not or only partially be paid for? – The following article explains.


Household contents insurance protects apartment and house owners from financial losses in the event of damage. What things are insured with a household contents insurance? The insurance doesn’t pay, what should I do? We answer the most important questions, explain the term and definition and explain what underinsurance and underinsurance is all about.

Fire, fire, break-in, theft? What is household effects and what damage is insured?


Household items include everything that is part of a household’s furnishings or that is used or consumed. Definition: Depending on the scope of protection, bicycles and garden furniture are included in household items. Household items include, for example, valuables, furniture and furnishings, electrical appliances and musical instruments. In general, dishes and toys are also included in household items.

Household contents insurance: what is insured? What damage in the house will be replaced?

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Household contents insurance usually covers everything that is part of the household. In addition, household effects can be insured against natural hazards and overvoltage damage with household insurance.

An example: A lightning strike is usually part of basic protection. However, if there is damage due to electrical overvoltage in the network, the policy usually does not apply. Nowadays, additional coverage should be implemented based solely on the number of electrical devices in the household.

What is typically paid, when – and what is not? – Household contents insurance covers damage to household effects

  • Lightning or lightning strike,
  • Storm and hail,
  • Tap water damage,
  • Fires and explosions as well
  • Burglary and vandalism.

However, the basic protection with most insurance companies does not cover all risks. Some damage is only included in exchange for additional insurance. This usually includes damage to household items caused by gross negligence, for example damage caused by scalding and stewing caused by a smoldering cigarette. Laundry on the clothesline is usually not included in the basic protection either, should it be stolen or damaged by a storm, for example. Insured persons must make every effort to ensure that these damage risks are included in the insurance. As a rule, this is possible for a surcharge or the insurance company offers a basic and a comfort / premium tariff anyway.

Fringe benefits – what is insured in the apartment and house?

Policyholders must also ensure that all ancillary services are covered with their home contents insurance. In some cases of damage there are follow-up costs, such as expenses for replacing locks or hotel costs due to fire damage or water damage after a pipe burst. Household contents insurance must cover all conceivable benefits.

It is advisable to include the benefits in the policy in consultation with the insurance company so that there are no unanswered questions in the event of damage. Full protection also helps to receive benefits early on. If the included services are not clearly formulated, the insurance company will commission an expert to document the damage to the household items (see expert for household items) and, in case of doubt, only pay for the damage to the household items that are stipulated in the contract.

And when traveling? What is insured there?

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The household effects you bring with you when you are traveling are part of the insurance coverage for most insurance companies. Damage to household items that occurs outside of your own four walls is also covered by external insurance. It is part of household insurance and covers, for example, clothing or the camera that is taken on vacation. It also comes into play if damage is caused by robbery and the like. But here, too, there are differences in the details. One contract insures, for example, the theft of winter sports equipment (skis, snowboards) up to a certain amount, the next insurer does not pay at all. So you have to know what you need and want – and take a close look at the question “What is insured in my household contents insurance?”.

House and Apartment: The Need for Home Insurance

Many consumers are unaware of the risk associated with inadequate insurance coverage. For example, if a household appliance catches fire and a home is damaged in a fire, enormous damage can result. Without appropriate insurance cover, the home owner is left with the costs. The same applies to cases of theft or vandalism. Only when the damage has already occurred do many people opt for home contents insurance. However, the previous damage is then not covered. The result: high costs and significantly higher tiered prices when taking out the policy due to the previous damage. It is therefore advisable to take out suitable insurance at an early stage.

The sum insured when taking out home insurance

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When taking out insurance, it must be specified exactly which damage and risks are covered. Otherwise there is a risk of underinsurance. In the event of damage, the insurance company only pays part of the costs or refuses to pay in full. If the sum insured does not fully cover the damage, the costs will be reimbursed on a percentage basis. In order to be secure, homeowners should document all items precisely. Insurance becomes more expensive if an underinsurance waiver is agreed. The underinsurance waiver is an agreement by which the insurer waives the need to review possible underinsurance in the event of a claim.

Conclusion: what is paid for?

What is paid – Household contents insurance therefore covers damage and risks that arise in the household. If you take a closer look at the benefits, it becomes clear that the majority of the financial risks are insured. Household contents insurance is therefore useful for almost all households. The consumer must assess for himself to what extent a household contents policy is useful and necessary. It is advisable to calculate the household effects and to choose a policy that covers as much as possible all damage in the appropriate amount. Because in case of doubt, the risk lies with the policyholder.

The following rule of thumb applies to the question “Household contents insurance – what is paid for?” These include, for example:

  • Furniture and furnishings.
  • Valuables like jewelry and cash.
  • DVDs, CDs, books.
  • Curtains, carpets and clothing.
  • Household and electrical appliances.

In the event of damage, the insurance usually pays the cost of the repair. If a repair is not possible, the new value or the replacement value will be reimbursed. Please note: the replacement value does not necessarily correspond to the purchase price. The decisive factor is the price that a comparable object achieves. Damaged items that are otherwise still usable will be reimbursed proportionally by the insurance. So only the depreciation will be reimbursed.

Who is covered in the household contents policy?

The household effects policy usually covers the possessions of the people who live in the household. However, it is not personal. In many cases, for example, damage and risks to children who live outside the household but are still registered in the parental home are also covered.

If you move house, the home contents insurance remains in effect. However, the insurer must be informed about the new living situation. If necessary, the sum insured must then be adjusted because the location of the apartment or house, for example, poses a higher risk of vandalism or there are new, valuable items in the house. Therefore, the contract usually has to be updated after a move.

Tariffs and small print details: Optimizing the policy


You can save by merging contracts. Couples and families who have just moved in together can combine the policies and save up to a third of the costs.

Policies with a deductible are cheaper. The policyholders themselves participate in the compensation of the damage and take on part of the costs. With household insurance, this does not pay off in most cases. With other insurances, the deductible makes sense, with household contents insurance, however, it is usually not.

What is insured? What does a good home contents insurance pay for? – Co-insurance for gross negligence is particularly important. The policy also applies if there is a break-in due to a door that is not properly locked or the water is accidentally not turned off.

If the insurance becomes more expensive as a result of the move, there may be a special right of termination. Policyholders should find out about their options at an early stage and change insurance if necessary or negotiate an individual tariff with the insurer.

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