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Does your car insurance cover Christmas presents?

Using the last few days before Christmas to finish buying presents and stocking up on mince pies? You’re not alone. According to an online survey by Consumer Intelligence Ltd, festive shoppers will make three to four trips to the shops in the run-up to the big day, spending an average of GBP700 on presents, food and drink. –

That’s a lot of bags – and 46% of shoppers have admitted to leaving these new purchases in their car, which could spell trouble if you’re targeted by opportunistic thieves. And Which? Money analysis of dozens of insurers show that if your car was to be broken into or stolen, very few insurance will cover you for anything near the value of the personal belongings you’re putting at risk

Personal belongings limits – the best and worst

If the worst should happen, items left in your car can be protected by personal belongings cover included as part of your car insurance. This cover protects the likes of clothing, glasses and other miscellaneous items if they are affected by fire, theft, accident or attempted theft while they are in your car. This would therefore include Christmas shopping – but it’s very rare to find a policy to cover GBP700-worth of goods.

In fact, Saga is the only car insurer that could potentially reimburse you for the full total of your belongings. It has a personal belongings limit of GBP1,000, but increases this in the month of December to GBP2,000, as it says ‘you are likely to have additional items in your car at Christmas.’ Toyota offers the next highest cover at GBP500, with the average at GBP200.

Some policies, however, dip to just GBP100-worth of cover. This table shows how much cover a collection of car insurers offer for personal belongings. The figures are for standard comprehensive policies.

Why you shouldn’t rely on car insurance for protection

There are also potential exclusions to bear in mind when it comes to making personal belongings claims.

Insurers often won’t pay out for money, credit or debit cards, tickets, vouchers that are stolen from your vehicle. Crucially, insurers also won’t have to pay out if your car has been left unlocked or with any windows, sun roofs or convertible roofs open, while some policies won’t pay for items that haven’t been secured in the car boot or glove compartment. What’s more, even if you are successful in making a claim, you could lose any no claims bonus you might have built up, which can increase the price of your insurance when it’s time to renew — which could cost you more than your pay out in the long run.

So what’s the answer? Avoid leaving items in your car for any longer than necessary. Check your car insurance to see what’s covered, and if you do have to leave anything in there, make sure it is out of view, ideally covered and locked in the boot.

Storing presents at home is a much better idea – especially as some home insurers are offering a festive cover boost[1].

You’ll just have to hide them from anyone who might try to peek.


  1. ^ home insurers are offering a festive cover boost (

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