Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Last updated: 31st March 2020

Following the Government’s announcement asking everyone to stay at home, we’re making some changes to the way we work to make sure we’re looking after our people and our customers. We’re setting up as many of our colleagues as possible to work from home, but this will take a few days.

In the short-term, we’re only accepting new business online. That means new customers can't buy insurance over the phone.

Existing customers: Please don’t phone unless it’s absolutely necessary.

We need to prioritise:

  • Customers who have an urgent claim, for example your car is undrivable following an accident, you are injured, or your home is uninhabitable.
  • Customers who can’t pay now as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, call us - we want to help you.

If you have questions about your renewal or want to make a change to your policy, you can use our virtual assistant. If your policy is due to renew in the next week and you haven’t opted for auto-renewal, please call us. If you have opted for auto-renewal, please make sure your insurance still meets your needs.

For more information and frequently asked questions about COVID-19, go to our Coronavirus help and support page.

  • Nearly two thirds of people (57 per cent) own a high value collectible worth more than £500, with a combined value of close to £222 billion
  • Risky business: 23 per cent of these items are uninsured
  • A stuffed shark, taxidermy tigers, full-sized replica Terracotta Warrior statues and a toy soldier collection worth five figures are some of our prized possessions

New research1 from Direct Line's SELECT Premier Insurance reveals Britons collectively own nearly £222 billion worth of high value collectibles. Unusual items listed on insurance policies include full-sized replica statues of Terracotta Warriors made in Xi'an, a toy soldier collection worth £10,000 and a menagerie of taxidermal animals, including a shark and tigers.

Across the UK nearly 30 million people (57 per cent) own collectible items valued at more than £500. The research reveals there is a strong passion for memorabilia with around 11.8 million people (23 per cent) owning high-value treasures such as vintage sports collections, music artefacts and film souvenirs. Over nine million people (18 per cent) own antiques valued at more than £500. There is also a strong following for militaria, with ten per cent of the population (5.2 million people) claiming to own them.

Accumulating items for passion projects can span decades, leading the likelihood of them building up a high financial valuation, with the average value of high-end antiques owned by Brits standing at £2,713, militaria at £2,971 and memorabilia at £2,975. The arts are another one of Britain's collecting passions, with nearly one in five (19 per cent) adults owning either artwork, ornaments or sculptures worth more than £500, while 17 per cent own a high-value musical instrument.

Table one: Ownership of high value collectibles by category and their estimated total value

High value item category Percentage of UK adults who
own an item in this category
Estimated total value of items
Memorabilia 23% £35.0 billion
Fashion and fashion accessories 21% £27.4 billion
Artwork, ornaments, sculptures 19% £26.5 billion
Antiques 18% £25.4 billion
Musical instruments 17% £22.8 billion
Militaria or weapons 10% £15.5 billion
Other high value items 25% £36.3 billion
All high value collectibles 57% £221.9 billion

Source: Direct Line SELECT Premier Insurance 2019

With so many Britons amassing valuable collections it is surprising that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of people who have these items do not cover them with insurance. As many as 3.1 million people have had an uninsured item lost, damaged or stolen at an estimated cost of more than £14 billion.

Militaria is the most likely item to be stolen, with over a quarter of owners (27 per cent) falling victim to theft. Jewellery is the most lost item (19 per cent), while electronics are most likely to suffer damage (21 per cent). Overall, 52 per cent of owners of militaria claim to have had an item damaged, stolen or lost, followed by artwork, ornaments and sculptures (39 per cent) and antiques (34 per cent)

When looking at all high-value items owned, including items such as electronics and jewellery, nearly three quarters of Brits (73 per cent, or 38 million people) own a single item worth more than £500, with a collective value of nearly £350 billion. However, a quarter of these (25 per cent) are not covered by any form of insurance, leaving an estimated £88 billion insurance gap for items worth over £500.

Nick Brabham, head of SELECT Premier Insurance, commented: "Britons love collecting, from militaria to musical instruments, which often have both a high sentimental and financial value. However, it is surprising to see that many people are not insuring their passion projects, leaving £88 billion worth of high-end items at risk. Many policies will only cover unspecified items up to a specific limit, which would mean the policyholder wouldn't be able to claim for their prized possessions in the event of an accident or theft."

Regional analysis
Analysis of Direct Line SELECT's insured item data2 has revealed the UK's most treasured items on a regional basis. The findings show that the north of the UK values its precious metals and gemstones, with the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland all having the highest volume of insuring these items when compared to the UK regional average. The Midlands (both East and West) are both more likely to insure high value household items and ornaments, while Northern Ireland, the North West and Wales all have a penchant for militaria. London and the South West favour high-end musical instruments, while the South East's favourite high value item is collectibles and East Anglia favours antiques.

Table two: The most commonly insured high value item by region compared to the UK average

Region Item category Incidence of insurance compared
to UK regional average
East Anglia Antiques ▲55%
East Midlands Household and ornaments ▲97%
London Musical instruments ▲420%
North East Militaria ▲85%
North West Precious metals and gemstone ▲160%
Northern Ireland Militaria ▲19%
Scotland Precious metals and gemstones ▲200%
South East Collectibles ▲405%
South West Musical instruments ▲180%
Wales Militaria ▲142%
West Midlands Household and ornaments ▲80%
Yorkshire Precious metals and gemstones ▲120%

Source: Direct Line SELECT Premier Insurance 2019

Direct Line SELECT Premier insurance is specially designed for people with higher value homes and possessions and includes specialist cover for valuable items, such as jewellery and fine art. This means that customers not only benefit from high limits, but also only must list individual items worth £10,000 or more.

Notes to Editors

1Research conducted by Opinium among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults between 14th and 17th June 2019. Of this sample 73 per cent of respondents (1,460 people) owned an item valued at more than £500

2Analysis of Direct Line SELECT Premier insurance policy data for specified items valued at more than £10,000

For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
PR Manager
Direct Line Group
Tel: 01651 832 095
Email: chelsey.wheeler@directlinegroup.co.uk

Samantha Stewart
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 025 6497
Email: samantha.stewart@citigatedewerogerson.com

About SELECT Premier Insurance

Direct Line offers SELECT Premier Insurance to cover homes, cars and valuables of high worth, as well as breakdown cover, pet and travel insurance, all covered under just one policy. When taking out SELECT Premier Insurance, Direct Line will even pay your cancellation charges from your previous policy, making it even easier and affordable to have all your policies under one roof, with one payment plan and one renewal date.

At SELECT Premier Insurance we help you stay in control by offering you a truly personal service. To begin with, one of our accredited insurance advisors will carry out a complimentary individual telephone review with you. Then they’ll give you tailored advice, based on your unique needs, for example, specialist cover for valuables such as fine art and jewellery (without needing to list individual items worth less than £10,000) or for your property portfolio, to ensure you get exactly the right level of cover.

To find out more about what Direct Line SELECT Premier can offer, go to https://www.directline.com/select-premier or go straight through to an expert, not a machine, on 0800 206 2849

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 300 7838 or visiting www.directline.com