Sadly, when your home is burgled, the items that are most valuable are also the ones that are most attractive to the thieves. They're also the ones it'll cost you most to replace should anything happen to them.

Your valuables are generally covered under your contents insurance, but only up to a pre-determined amount. This amount is known as the single item limit and, on average, will be for a maximum of around 1,500. However, this does vary from policy to policy so it is always best to check with your insurer.

Typically, valuables can be classified as any of the following : stamp collections, pictures or artwork, items made from precious metals, jewellery, watches, furs or antiques. Computers, furniture, tools or machinery can also be classed as valuables.

It is always a good idea to check the small print of your insurance policy to establish your single item limit, if you haven't already done so. You should also be aware that any item worth more than the single item limit will need to be named separately your home contents insurance policy. If you neglect to do this then you will not be covered in the event of the item being stolen, lost or damaged.

How to value your valuables

Your first step should be to identify the items in your house that you think may exceed your single item insurance limit. If the items in question are antiques, collectables or works of art then it is best to get them valued by a reputable valuer or auction house to ensure that they are insured for their full value.

It is always a good idea to get your valuables valued every couple of years or so in case they have risen in value. This is particularly true with items made out of gold which has seen its value rise sharply in recent months. It is often said that the only thing worse than having your items stolen, is finding out after the event that you have underinsured them!

Something else to consider when thinking about your valuables is whether or not you will take them out of the house. Items that fall into this category could be anything from jewellery to laptops, to expensive sports or musical equipment.

Cover for items taken out of the home is often included in contents insurance policies as standard, but this is not always the case and this tends only to be up to a certain limit. Again, always check the small print of your policy or ask your insurer for clarification.

Protect your valuables

It is one thing to be reimbursed financially for stolen valuables, but something that you can never be compensated for is their sentimental value. It is worth bearing in mind a few simple steps that could greatly improve your chances of being reunited with your most prized possessions should they ever be stolen:

  • Take a picture of your item.

  • Make a note of any distinguishing features (individual nicks, scratches, engravings etc.).

  • Stamp them with a traceable code or write on them with an ultraviolet pen.

If you have something really valuable

With some contents insurance policies, valuables are only allowed to make up a certain percentage of the total amount of cover. Because of this, if you have an item of particularly high value then you could find it a struggle to get adequate cover under your standard contents insurance. If this is the case, then the most convenient option would be to consider paying a little extra to increase your single item cover limit.

If you have lots of high value items in your household then you may wish to consider what is called a 'High Net Worth insurance policy'. This kind of policy tends to offer higher levels of cover across the board. However, these policies do tend to be rather pricey, so are not really suitable for those looking to get cover for one or two expensive items.

If you are looking at getting cover for only a couple of very expensive items then it may be worth thinking about taking out a single item policy. By putting your valuables under a separate policy you could potentially isolate the risk of losing your no claims bonus and seeing your premiums rise.

Whichever route you decide to go down it is always in your best interest to shop around and take the time to find the policy that offers the exact level of cover that you need.