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Home insurance: accidental damage cover explained

If your home or your belongings are unexpectedly damaged, you might be able to cover the cost with accidental damage cover. 

Red win spilled on a cream carpet

What is accidental damage?

Accidental damage is any damage that occurs suddenly as a result of an unexpected and non-deliberate external action.

That means if you spilled red wine on a brand-new cream carpet, a home insurance accidental damage policy would help you cover the cost of cleaning.

The insurer might even offer to replace it. 

You can add it as an extra when you get a home insurance quote.

So, if you’re somewhat accident prone, it might be worth investing in it. 

As you might already know, there are two types of home insurance policy: 

Contents insurance which covers most objects inside your home, for example your TV or any expensive jewellery. It’ll also cover carpets and sofas. 

Buildings insurance which covers anything structure-related. Like light fittings, the roof, walls and floors. 

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What does accidental damage cover when added to a contents insurance policy? 

A contents insurance policy would usually cover damage caused to your belongings by storms, fire, flood or crime.

For example, you’d be covered if a burglar breaks in and knocks over your TV. 

With an accidental damage policy, you’d be covered if a friend or family member knocked the TV over.

As long as it was unintentional. 

Accidental damage for contents insurance should cover things like:

  • A TV that has been broken – physically, not electronically
  • Damage to furniture, such as mattresses and sofas
  • Damage to property in your garden
  • Damage to your carpets, such as a red wine stain

Your possessions should be covered by accidental damage insurance:

  • In your home
  • Outdoors, as long as its within the confines of your property
  • When moving house, but with a professional contractor
  • If you take them with you on holiday if you have personal possessions cover


Would this cover accidental damage caused by children?

As delightful as they are, children can be the cause of many an insurance claim. 

So, if your child or even a friend’s child decides to get creative and draw on the sofa you’d be covered. 

Some of the damage might be covered under a standard home insurance policy.

 But getting accidental damage cover  should give you full protection. 


What does accidental damage cover when added to a buildings insurance policy? 

In a buildings insurance policy, you’d usually be covered for damage by weather, fire or crime. 

As we mentioned, accidental damage cover would cover you for any unintentional accident.

In this case, you should be covered if you put your foot through the ceiling while working in the attic. 

A good example of both types of policy working together would be if you accidentally drilled through a pipe. 

You should be covered for damage to the pipe, and for any damage caused to the flooring or carpet by the leak. 

It’s always best to check your policy wording to see exactly what you’re covered for. 

But accidental damage building insurance should cover permanent fixtures, such as pipes, kitchen fittings, doors and windows.

Some scenarios which may be covered by buildings insurance accidental damage include:

  • Broken glass in windows, doors and solar panels
  • Damage to ceramic hobs and ceramic tops of fixed cookers
  • Damage to drains, pipes and cables
  • Breakages to your walls and ceilings
  • Putting your foot through attic floor
  • Damage caused by a colliding car, tree or other force
  • Damage to keys or locks


What isn’t covered by an accidental damage policy? 

As with any policy, you’ll find there are usually exclusions: 

Animal-related accidents 

If you’ve got a pet that likes a nibble on the couch, or a good claw on the curtains, your accidental damage policy may not cover it. 

Some policies do offer a version of this sort of cover, for example if your dog accidentally knocked over an expensive vase.

But these policies are bespoke and not that common. 

It’s worth asking your insurer about this type of policy. 

Employing tactics to stop your pet from damaging your home could be an easier option.

You’ll also find that an accidental damage policy doesn’t cover for damage caused by vermin or insects. 


Generally, if you’re doing DIY and you accidentally damaged something, you’d probably be covered. 

But if you’re doing work that you’re not qualified to do - for example plumbing or electrical work - then you probably wouldn’t be covered. 

So refrain from jumping on the latest DIY TikTok trends before checking that you’ll be covered for the work you’re attempting.

Insurers also won’t pay out for defective building materials or poor workmanship.

Make sure you hire a reputable builder to do any work for you. 

Wear and tear 

Keep your home in good nick all year round.

Your policy won’t cover you for general wear and tear. 

This includes things like fungus or structural movement.

It’s a good idea to perform a monthly maintenance check of your home to ensure everything is in working order.

That way you avoid an expensive problem later. 

This applies to any electricals on your policy too.

Electrical issues, like mechanical faults or breakdowns, won’t be covered. 

Taking belongings outside the home 

If you’re moving house using a professional company your items should be covered. 

But if you move them yourself and they get damaged it’s likely that your accidental damage cover won’t cover it. 

For insurers to consider paying out, the damage needs to happen inside your property boundary. 

Free-standing electricals 

You may not be able to insure your portable electrical items - like laptops or tablets - for accidental damage.

A gadget insurance policy would be the best option. 

Make sure you always check your policy wording for what is and isn’t covered. 

If the damage wasn’t accidental

It may seem like a moot point, but if the damage caused wasn’t accidental, insurers may not pay out on your claim.

As with any home insurance claim, evidence is key – and in this case, that it was accidental.

For help, read our guide on how to make a home insurance claim.


Does accidental damage cover matching sets?

Insurers may only pay out to replace the damaged item, even if it’s part of a set.

In other words, if you’ve a set of sofas and one has become damaged, insurers may not pay for a whole new set.

This could mean that you end up with a sofa that doesn’t match the original set.

You’ll need to check your home insurance policy details.

If matching set cover is part of your policy or you’ve included it as an add-on, the insurer should replace the entire set if one piece gets damaged.


Do I need to take out accidental damage cover if I live in rented accommodation? 

You shouldn’t need to get buildings insurance cover as your landlord should have the policy for this. 

Accidental damage for contents insurance would be worth considering, though.

That way, if your belongings get damaged, you’ll be able to get a replacement relatively quickly.


Do I need to take out accidental damage cover if I’m a landlord?

If you have tenants renting your property, then it’s probably a good idea.

Especially, if the property is furnished.

Much like a normal home insurance policy, accidental damage cover can be added onto a landlord insurance policy