We regularly ask students subscribed to Join the Conversation how we can help them. Whether it’s with insurance, investment or lending options, health and wellbeing, or general student life. One of the questions we were asked was, “Contents insurance. What does it all mean?” So, here’s how we’ve broken it down.

What does contents insurance do?

It covers you against, loss, damage or theft to your personal possessions and valuable items. Insurance companies will pay to repair them where possible or replace them with new ones.

How does it work?

You tell your insurance company how much your contents (or belongings) are worth. Making sure to include what is in your home, dormitory, garage, shed, storage shed and flat or room. The insurer then tells you how much it costs to insure your contents, if everything had to be replaced. This cost is called an insurance premium. You may be able to pay the insurance premium for your contents policy in weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly payments.

If your contents are damaged, stolen, lost or destroyed you can make a claim to your insurance provider to have them repaired or replaced. Depending on your contents policy, you may need to pay an insurance excess and you might lose your No Claims Bonus.  An excess is the first amount of the total cost to repair or replace an item which is payable by you. This is the uninsured portion of your claim. A No Claims Bonus is the reduction in your insurance premium you get when you haven’t made a claim within an agreed time period, for instance 12 months

Why do you need contents insurance?

Scenario one.

Imagine your laptop or tablet is stolen.  You’re not on campus for the next three days; you need to send an essay to your lecturer in two days – that you luckily saved to an external hard drive or the Cloud; you don’t have access to another computer; and you really need to finish that essay and earn those credits.

Stolen contents

Scenario two.

Imagine you’re flatting. You’ve had to evacuate due to storms and rising floodwater; you’ve grabbed your electronics because they were small, and you know they’re expensive to replace; you walk back into your flat after the flood has basically destroyed everything a metre above the ground; and your landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover your belongings.

Destroyed contents

Scenario three.

Imagine you’re celebrating your engagement with your family and close friends at your parents’ home. You haven’t had a chance to resize your engagement ring, and it’s fallen off during all the celebrations and you can’t find it; and because it’s valued over $5k but not listed as a separate item on your parent’s insurance policy, it’s not fully covered.

Looking for lost item

All those scenarios suck. Right?

When you have contents insurance, your stolen laptop or tablet will be replaced. Some providers will credit your account with money to purchase a new one, and some will find a preferred provider for you and organise it so you only have to go in, show ID and pick a new one up. Either way, the credits are still within your reach.

When you have contents insurance your ruined bed and bedding, shoes, lounge suite, drawers, clothes, bags, and everything else that was destroyed will be replaced with brand new items.  All you’ll have to do is help with the clean-up of all the old items.

And finally, when you have contents insurance and itemise valuable items such as jewellery, your provider will replace it for you – and you can ask the jeweller to make sure it fits before you pick it up!

How much contents insurance do you need?

The best way is to work it out using our guide below as a start. Then each time you buy something that you think would be financially hard to replace or repair, add it to your running total. You could start a spreadsheet, or use an expense tracking app like Expensify. You can change the dollar value and items to suit you.

Bathroom items

  • Toiletries, make-up, perfume, aftershave
  • Personal electronics: hair dryer, hair straighteners, electric shavers
  • Towels

Average value

  • $1,800
  • $300
  • $120

Above average value

  • $4,000
  • $900
  • $800

Bedroom items

  • Bed
  • Bedding (Including electric blanket)
  • Drawers and bedside table
  • Personal electronics: mobiles, wireless speaker, headphones
  • Clothes, shoes and handbags
  • Jewellery and watches
  • TV

Average value

  • $1,000
  • $1,000
  • $750
  • $2,000
  • $3,000
  • $2,500
  • $800

Above average value

  • $4,500
  • $1,800
  • $3,000
  • $4,000
  • $8,000
  • $5,000
  • $5,000

Living area items

  • DVD player, games console, games and DVDs
  • TV
  • Lounge furniture

Average value

  • $1,000
  • $800
  • $2,000

Above average value

  • $3,000
  • $5,000
  • $6,000

Kitchen items

  • Kitchen appliances
  • Kitchenware: pots, pans, plates, bowls, cutlery
  • Refrigerator
  • Food
  • Microwave

Average value

  • $1,000
  • $750
  • $800
  • $500
  • $300

Above average value

  • $5,500
  • $3,500
  • $2,500
  • $1,000
  • $800

Laundry items

  • Washing machine
  • Ironing board, iron
  • Clothes basket
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Heater, vacuum cleaner, fan

Average value

  • $600
  • 150
  • $20
  • $60
  • $600

Above average value

  • $1,000
  • $300
  • $100
  • $200
  • $1,800

Office items

  • Desk and chair
  • Bookcase and books
  • Computer, laptop, tablet and printer

Average value

  • $500
  • $2,000
  • $2,500

Above average value

  • $1,000
  • $3,500
  • $3,500

Other items

  • Backpack and luggage
  • Camping gear
  • Bike, skateboard, surfboard, scooter, skis

Average value

  • $800
  • $800
  • $4,000

Above average value

  • $2,500
  • $4,500
  • $8,000

How do you choose the right insurer?

You need to think about what matters most to you. For example, how important is the cost of your premium, or the service you receive, especially at claim time, and the reputation of your insurance provider? Give each one a weighting and use that to help decide which insurance provider to choose. Sometimes people choose on price and then have a poor claim experience. At other times, people may have an easy online sign-up experience and then when they receive their policy documents find out they’re not quite as covered as they thought they were.

MAS Contents insurance

Here’s a few of the extra benefits you may get when you have your contents insured by MAS:

  • Receive up to $5,000 if you are a victim of cyber-bullying.
  • Receive up to $50,000 for an emergency evacuation and up to $50,000 for alternative accommodation.
  • Multi-policy discounts. Receive a 10% discount on your premium if you have your Contents and House or Contents and Motor Vehicle. Receive a 20% discount if you have House, Contents and Motor Vehicle.
  • Replace your old contents for new ones with our replacement value cover option.
  • We have a reputation for being trustworthy, easy to deal with, and for looking after our Members when they need us most. Add to that the fact we were awarded Consumer NZ People’s Choice for three years running.

You can talk to our friendly Member Support Centre about our House, Contents and Motor Vehicle insurance. You can also request a no obligation free quote by emailing info@mas.co.nz or calling 0800 800 627. Or visit our website mas.co.nz to find out more.      

We invite you to join the conversation

If you’ve found this article helpful and would like to receive more on topics including health and wellbeing, finance, and student hacks you can join the conversation.

To learn more about what MAS offers students you can visit our website or you can receive links to articles like this one plus chance to win some great prizes every month by joining the conversation.

MAS applies underwriting criteria when you apply for insurance to determine whether we will offer you cover and, if so, on what terms. Please note cover will not be available in all circumstances, and that certain conditions and/or excesses may apply if MAS offers cover. Our standard policy wordings are available at mas.co.nz or by calling 0800 800 627.

This article does not form part of any contract you may enter into with MAS.

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