Home insurance - Accidental damage cover
Accidental damage cover is normally an add-on to standard home insurance policies. Insurers often say that it’s designed to insure the policyholder’s belongings against damage caused by negligence, meaning things like spillages or breakages. Details of cover aren’t always the same for different providers, so it’s best to get familiar with the details before committing to a home insurance policy.
What is accidental damage?
The definition tends to be the same across different home insurance policies. It is damage that happens suddenly because of an unexpected and non-deliberate action. This means wear and tear is not included- this also means mechanical failure isn’t covered. So, your insurer wouldn’t pay out if your laptop broke down but would cover you if you accidentally dropped and broke it.
What does accidental damage home insurance cover?
You can choose just to cover your building, the contents inside, or both. If you’re renting, you would only need accidental damage cover for your belongings, whereas a landlord might need to cover both the building and its contents. If you’re a homeowner, it’s wise to add accidental damage cover to your building and your contents policies.
Accidental damage insurance for building would cover things like:
- Broken windows
- Damage to bathroom fittings
- Damaged drains, pipes, tanks and cables
- Cracks in wall tiles
- Damage to kitchen units, including built-in ones like ovens.
- An unintentional hole made in a wall or door
- Natural hazard damage, ie. floods, fires and storms.
- Collision damage from trees or cars.
A lot of home insurance providers have clauses written into their standard policy documents, which state they may not offer accidental damage cover for your building for things like:
- Wear and tear that happens naturally
- Chemical or frost damage
- Any damage that happens while your home is unoccupied (if you’re on holiday, or planning to sell)
- Damage from mechanical or electrical faults
- Damage from light or other atmospheric conditions
Accidental damage for contents will cover things like:
- Your TV being physically broken
- Accidental damage to your phone or smartwatch at home
- Damage to furniture
- Spilling red wine on the carpet
However, many providers won’t offer cover for things such as:
- Documents and certificates
- Food and drink
- Damage that happens when your home is unoccupied
- Damage to sports equipment, if it happens while you’re using it
- Damage caused by computer viruses
Would damage caused by children be covered by accidental damage insurance?
Young children can cause plenty of damage around the home, and even if you don’t have them yourself- visiting kids could still be a worry.
Accidents involved home entertainment are normally covered as standard, so if your nephew knocks your TV over, you’ll likely be covered. But always check the small print to make sure.
You can extend your accidental damage cover to protect most other things in your home, so if you end up with a Sharpie drawing on your sofa, you could then claim for it.
Commonly excluded items include portable electricals and clothing. In other words, keep kids away from your iPad and favourite designer boots- and as always, check the wording of your policy.
Will my home insurance cover animal-related incidents?
A lot of home insurance providers won’t cover damage caused by animals, from scratching and tearing to fouling. Very few contents insurance policies will cover for pets.
Some insurers won’t even cover for damage caused my insect or vermin infestation.
However, squirrels are specifically excluded from the vermin classification of some home insurance policies- this is worth looking into, especially if you know there’s a lot of them around your area.
Some insurers may offer an enhanced accidental damage cover policy, which would pay out to help cover the cost of things like pet-damaged sofas.
Does accidental damage insurance cover DIY accidents?
Generally, if you’re unsure about what you’re doing, it’s best to be safe and hire a professional.
You should always check your home insurance policy conditions before undertaking any work. You might need protection under both your building and contents policies, but this will depend on the job. Damage caused my cleaning is also excluded from a few home insurance policies, so be careful when clearing up your mess.
It’s also worth noting that if some plumbing or electrical work is carried out by an amateur, it may not be covered.
Common accidents, like a poorly placed nail or a burst pipe will usually be accepted if you claim, though.
Should I get accidental damage cover?
If you’re taking out contents insurance, you should ask yourself if you have any belongings that you would want replaced if they were suddenly broken or damaged, especially more valuable things like large TVs and kitchen appliances.
Because it is generally a case of opting in, rather than coming as standard with your home and contents insurance, it will often make your policy more expensive than standard. You need to decide if it’s worth paying the extra, by assessing what the risk your property is. If accidental damage cover seems worth it for your peace of mind, then go for it.