Money & Insurance > Guides

Christmas presents and insurance – what you need to know

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Nov 30, 2016

Christmas is just around the corner.

D-list celebrities are switching on festive street lights, Michael Bublé is gearing up for his busiest month of the year and, of course, we’re all buying presents for family and friends.  

But unless we’re careful Christmas can be ruined by anything from failed deliveries and sub-standard gifts, to burglars and pickpockets. 

If you’re spending hard-earned cash on a treasure trove of gifts, it pays to be on top of your insurance.  

Don’t let the Grinch spoil your Christmas – get the right cover for your home*.


Contents or buildings insurance, what do I need for presents?

Here’s a neat trick, imagine you’ve picked up your house, turned it upside down and shaken it.

Anything that sticks is covered by buildings insurance. Everything else is contents.


Contents insurance and presents

Depending on your policy, contents insurance usually covers your property against things like theft, fire, flood and water damage.

The price of your contents insurance depends on the total value of the stuff in your home.

Any presents under the tree boost that value – something you might not have factored in when you first took out the cover.

But don’t worry, plenty of insurers will automatically increase your cover during Christmas.

Direct Line, for example, increase the insured sum by 10% for 30 days either side of Christmas and family weddings.

This will vary from one insurer to the next, so it’s worth giving yours a ring and checking.

While on the phone, check you’re covered for what you’ve bought; if you’ve just got a rare musical instrument or a piece of jewellery, for example, you might need to beef up your policy and take out specialist cover.

Burglaries increase in winter, but it’s estimated that one in five homes have less contents cover than they need.

We recommend keeping any receipts for presents as they can help make any claim go smoothly.

You can compare buildings & contents insurance deals online to make sure you've got the right cover. 

Contents insurance at Christmas checklist

This is what you need to clarify with your insurer:

* Is there an upper limit on the total value of claims?
* Do they increase what you’re covered for? If so, by how much and when?
* Does my level of cover protect my new purchases?

The final word: 

Katie Lomas, head of home insurance for Direct Line, told us: "With Christmas shopping now in full swing, householders should not be complacent about home security. Burglary claims often peak during December, which reinforces the importance of taking steps to secure your home.  Should the worst happen, Direct Line increases contents limits by 10% in the festive season to cover all the extra presents in your home.”

Secure your home.

Failing to take reasonable care (leaving the window open, for example) can invalidate your claim should you lose valuables to thieves.

Here are our tips on protecting your home

To avoid disaster, it pays to check you have the right cover for your Christmas presents


Travelling with Christmas presents

Some of you may be visiting family or friends abroad this Christmas (or just escaping the freezing British weather).

So what happens if you lose or damage a present travelling?

Most insurers will cover any presents you’re carrying under personal baggage cover, but policies can have knotty restrictions on the amount you can claim per item (typically around £250).

Valid claims will need a receipt and damaged items may need to be sent to the insurer.

Our advice: read the small print and make sure the type of gift you’re taking is covered by your travel insurance policy.

Fragile items such as glass, household goods, china – Ming dynasty Chinese vases, for example – or anything not carried in hand luggage are unlikely to be covered.

For gadgets like mobile phones, you may have to take out specific insurance.


Cars, presents and Christmas – our advice

Father Christmas has his sleigh, my mum and dad have a clapped-out Peugeot.

Whatever you’re using to transport presents, it’s important to be alert.

Leaving valuables in plain site could attract thieves and, even if you hid everything in the boot, it’s unlikely your car policy will reimburse you for a full-blown shopping trip. 

Any claim you make will need you to pay a policy excess and will cause you to lose your no claims bonus.

Use common sense and don’t advertise your purchases.


After Christmas, stay on top of house insurance

When Christmas has finished, family members have left and mince pies have been digested, you still need to stay on top of your insurance.

If your living room is sporting a brand-new TV, for example, you will need to increase your contents cover in the New Year.

A dramatic jump in the value of your contents has implications for your wider home insurance policy.

Reassess your policy and make sure you’re not under-insured.

Find a buildings & contents insurance deal here*.

* The insurance quote systems are owned and operated by Seopa Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A Spokesman Said Limited is an introducer appointed representative of Seopa Limited (FRN: 313860).


Last year 65% of customers didn't switch their car insurance to try and get a better deal.