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Home insurance extras explained

Accidental damage, legal expenses & home emergency cover can be added to enhance your home insurance cover.

But what do they all do?

Plumber working on a sink

When you take out a home insurance policy, you may be asked if you want to add any of these extras to your cover:

Some providers may include this as part of a standard policy, but usually it’s an extra that adds a little more to your premium.

What is accidental damage cover?

Picture the scene.

It’s Friday night. You’ve just poured yourself a glass of red, and are ready to settle down for a night of bad TV.

Three steps into the living room and – whoops – the glass escapes your grip and hits your pristine cream carpet faster than a DeLorean going back to 1955.

The carpet is in a sorry state, and would cost a pretty penny to clean or replace. Your standard contents insurance policy might not cover this.

Accidental damage cover is designed to help you repair or replace items that have been damaged as the result of “a one-off, unintentional incident”.

So that nice big crimson stain on the carpet would generally be covered.

Red wine spilled on carpet plus statistic
 
There are a few exclusions to this type of cover, though:

  • Mechanical failure – if your fridge decides it’s had enough of you telling it what to do and goes on strike
  • General wear and tear – when your mattress gives up the ghost after 10 years, you wouldn’t be able to claim on your policy for it
  • Damage caused by pets – make sure your pooch is house-trained before you let them near the furniture

Damage caused intentionally, or caused as the result of negligence, wouldn’t normally be covered.

So if you plan on pranking your friend by super-gluing their furniture to the ceiling, be warned that they’ll have to dip into their own pocket to fix it.

You can get accidental damage cover as part of a contents or buildings insurance policy, giving you added protection if you accidentally put your foot through the attic floor.

 

What is legal expenses cover?

Say you’ve hired a tradesman to do some work on a house extension.

They don’t live up to their side of the deal, and you’re left with a shoddy piece of workmanship that took three times longer than you expected to finish.

Normally, taking the tradesman to court would be an expensive process, frequently running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Having cover in place could offset this cost by helping you with your legal fees.

This would also apply if someone sued you for something like mis-selling your home, or if someone injures themselves while visiting your house.

Though it aims to cover your legal costs, this type of cover doesn’t go as far as paying any settlement you have to make - that’s on you.

Depending on who your cover is with, you may get different exclusions. Many insurers won’t cover legal disputes such as divorce or libel.

What is home emergency cover?

In a nutshell, home emergency cover gives you access to a helpline that you can call if something goes wrong and you need someone to fix it straight away.

Broken Window

Things that count as a home emergency are:

  • A burst pipe that’s cascading water through your living room
  • A broken window that leaves a gaping hole into your house
  • A bolt of lightning striking your home and blowing half your roof off

Basically, if an incident leaves your home in dire straits and needs sorting out pretty sharpish, it’s the kind of event that makes home emergency cover useful.

Your insurer will usually send one of their appointed tradespeople out to your home to help fix the situation.

Using someone you know generally isn’t covered because they’ve not been approved by the insurer.

The response time will vary depending on who your insurer is, so check the policy to see if there’s a guaranteed timeframe.

If you’re renting, then you don’t necessarily need home emergency cover. If anything goes wrong, it’s the responsibility of your landlord to take care of things. 
 

Are any of these compulsory?

The clue’s in the name. As an optional extra, you’ve no obligation whatsoever to take any of them out.

But depending on your circumstances, it might be a sensible idea to get one (or more) of these extras to beef up your home insurance policy.

The easiest thing to do is look at the cost of adding these on when you get a home insurance quote. You can see then if the added cost is worth the extra protection.

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