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Cash in the attic: Brits own hidden treasures but some fail to protect them

10th March 2016 Print

Millions of Brits are leaving their prized possessions exposed by failing to recognise the value of their of their home’s contents, according to new research from Direct Line Home Insurance.

Despite almost half (44 per cent) of those questioned admitting they find it difficult to estimate the value of their personal possessions, the study reveals that many are failing on basic protection measures such as keeping receipts for major purchases (46 per cent don’t) or photographing their home contents (85 per cent).

The findings suggest that many householders could be harbouring more valuable items than they realise. Almost a fifth (18 per cent) have admitted they have items they suspect are worth a small fortune, but have never had valued.

More than two in five (43 per cent) Brits own vintage or antique items, although almost half (46 per cent) admit they don’t know what they are worth. A further 41 per cent claim that the antiques or vintage items that they own are not accounted for in their home insurance. For some, such as the 17 per cent who own antique jewellery, these items may be priceless.

Top 10 most popular antiques and vintage items owned by Brits





Vintage toys

First edition books

Sports memorabilia


Pop memorabilia


The study highlights a concerning trend of some homeowners being lackadaisical about the value of their contents. A third (32 per cent) of respondents admitted they have never even thought about having their possessions valued. For more than eight million (16 per cent) it was too little, too late as they only realised they were underinsured when they had an unfortunate event such as a fire, flooding or theft.

Katie Lomas, head of Direct Line Home Insurance, commented: “We urge people to regularly value their contents and make sure they are comprehensively insured on a policy that protects the full value of their prized possessions. For many the impact of under-insurance is only realised when it’s too late, but this is preventable.

“When purchasing expensive items – whether it is a TV or a piece of jewellery – we would always advise people to keep a receipt. Regularly photographing the contents of your home is also an easy way to help keep a visual inventory.”

The study also revealed that one in six (16 per cent) have unwittingly given away high value personal items to friends, charity shops and other lucky recipients and only realised they were valuable when it was too late. This includes items such as clothing, first edition books and ornaments.

Antiques expert, Drew Pritchard, says: “We are currently seeing a resurgence in traditional English antiques that are usually passed down through the generations. It is important to thoroughly inspect your antique, keeping a close eye on any manufactures marks or imprints as this could make all the difference. When speaking with your insurer, you must enclose every little bit of detail to make sure your piece is correctly valued and you do not run the risk of being underinsured.”

Even more concerning is the 16 per cent of respondents who claim not to have any home insurance, offering no protection for even their most prized possessions. For those who are insured, two in five (40 per cent) state they do not know their single item limit on their policy, meaning they are at risk of being severely underinsured.