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Away from home: Portable contents insurance explained

  • Your home and contents insurance may not cover your belongings once they leave your home unless you’ve specifically requested it
  • A wide range of portable items can be insured when you’re out of the home by upgrading your home’s insurance policy to include portable contents cover
  • More than 50 per cent of thefts in Australia happen in a ‘community location’.

A lot of us have been there. You get off the train after a busy day at work or return home after a trip to the shops, only to find you’re without your sunglasses. Or your umbrella. Or one of the other items you carry around, day-in, day-out.

It’s very easily done. But while leaving your umbrella on the rush-hour express train is unlikely to keep you awake at night, losing your grandmother’s ring, or the theft of your laptop probably would.

Portable contents insurance - young woman working on her laptop

While the theft, loss, or damage of many possessions at home can be covered by regular contents insurance, are they still insured when you leave your property? Unless you’ve taken out additional portable contents insurance or cover, probably not.

What is portable contents insurance?

Portable contents insurance offers insurance coverage for the theft or accidental loss or damage of items you take out of your home with you.

It can cover items that accompany you wherever you go – like rings, watches, phones and handbags – as well as items that leave home on a more infrequent basis like musical instruments or laptops, for example.

Related article: I’m covered for that? 10 questions about home insurance answered

Why consider purchasing portable contents insurance?

If you’ve ever wondered, ‘what happens if my engagement ring falls off in the street?’, or ‘what would I do if I dropped my laptop in a cafe?’, then this is one of the ways you can protect yourself and your belongings from some of those unexpected mishaps.

Additionally, over half of all thefts in Australia happen in a 'community location'. So, if you’re concerned about valuable belongings being stolen while you’re out and about, it may also be worth considering portable contents insurance.

Related article: How to insure your engagement ring

What does portable contents insurance cover?

Many of your portable possessions can be covered under your policy, and they’ll be protected anywhere in Australia and New Zealand, and worldwide for up to 90 consecutive days.

Portable contents insurance - two men standing with their bicyclesWith QBE, it covers the theft or accidental loss or damage to your portable possessions, including when you’re out of the home.

With QBE, for an extra premium, you can add the portable contents option to your contents insurance in the following categories:

  • Mobile phones
  • Jewellery and watches
  • Portable electronic devices (includes things like tablets and laptops)
  • Bicycles
  • Recreational, hobby items and clothing (includes things like sporting equipment and musical instruments)
  • Permitted medical and health items (includes things like hearing aids, prescription glasses and mobility scooters)
  • Collections (includes things like collections of stamps, medals, memorabilia and wine).

Related article: Do I need to update my home insurance when I buy something new?

How much does portable contents insurance cost?

The cost of adding the portable contents option will be determined by the type and value of the items you want to cover away from home. It will also be based on other factors such as your claims history and the excess you’ve chosen for your policy,

Generally, the higher the overall value you choose to cover, the greater the cost will be. You can cover certain categories of portable possessions up to an agreed amount, while some higher valued items may need to be insured individually by specifically listing them on your policy.

Get prepared!

If you do decide to purchase portable contents cover it’s a good idea to collect evidence of your most valuable items just in case – for example, receipts, valuations, photographs and any serial numbers, if you have them.

Not only will it help the police if you’ve been a victim of crime, but it will help your insurer to get a clear understanding of the loss, too.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the value of some of the more ‘every day’ possessions we have. And while insurance can’t replace the sentimental value an item may have, it can protect its financial value.

Find out more about QBE Portable Contents cover


The advice on this website is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You must decide whether or not it is appropriate, in light of your own circumstances, to act on this advice. You should ensure you obtain and consider the policy wording or Product Disclosure Statement for the policy before you make any decision to buy it.

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