If your home or your belongings are unexpectedly damaged, you might be able to cover the cost if you have accidental damage cover.
But what is accidental damage insurance and do you really need it? Let's take a look.
What is accidental damage?
Accidental damage is any damage that occurs suddenly as a result of something unexpected and non-deliberate. Accidental damage insurance covers you for these accidents.
If you spill red wine on a brand-new cream carpet, a home insurance accidental damage policy should help you cover the cost of cleaning. The insurer might even offer to replace it.
You can add accidental damage insurance as an extra when you get a home insurance quote. So, if you’re somewhat accident-prone, it might be worth investing in this add-on.
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What does accidental damage insurance cover?
You can get accidental damage insurance as part of your contents insurance, your buildings insurance or both.
A contents insurance policy should cover most objects inside your home, including your TV and any expensive jewellery. It should also cover carpets and sofas. For example, you should be covered if a burglar breaks in and damages your TV.
By adding accidental damage insurance, you should be covered if a friend or family member knocks the TV over - as long as it’s unintentional.
The policy should cover you:
In your home
Outdoors - as long as it's within the confines of your property
When moving house - when using a professional contractor
On holiday if you have personal possessions cover
Accidental damage for contents insurance should cover things such as:
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 coffee stain
As there are no age restrictions when making an accidental damage claim, accidental damage caused by children might also be covered.
If your child accidentally drops paint on your sofa or spills their drink onto your carpet, you should be covered by accidental damage cover. But you should check your policy to be sure before making a claim.
Under a buildings insurance policy, you’re usually covered for damage by weather, fire or crime.
Adding accidental damage insurance to the policy usually covers you for any unintentional accidents, too. You should be covered if you put your foot through the ceiling while working in the attic, for example.
Accidental damage building insurance should cover permanent fixtures, such as pipes, kitchen fittings, doors and windows.
Some scenarios that tend to be covered by buildings insurance accidental damage include:
Broken glass in windows, doors and solar panels
Damage to ceramic hobs
Damage to drains, pipes and cables
Breakages to your walls and ceilings
Damage caused by a colliding car or a falling tree
Damage to keys or locks
Let’s say you have both accidental buildings and accidental contents cover in place. If you accidentally drill through a pipe, you should be covered for damage to the pipe. You should also be covered for any damage caused to the floor or carpet by the leak.
What isn’t covered by accidental damage insurance?
As with any policy, there are usually exclusions to accidental damage insurance.
If you’ve got a pet that likes to nibble the couch or claw the curtains, your accidental damage policy might not cover it. But if you have pet insurance, you might already have this cover.
Some policies do offer a version of this type of cover, such as if your dog accidentally knocks over an expensive vase. But these policies are bespoke and not that common.
Some insurers exclude all pet damage, while others only exclude damage caused by:
You can get insurance specifically for pet damage. But employing tactics to stop your pet from damaging your home could be an easier and cheaper option.
You might also find that an accidental damage policy doesn’t cover damage caused by vermin or insects. The removal of infestations may also be excluded.
Generally, if you’re doing DIY and you accidentally damage something, you should be covered.
But if you’re doing work that you’re not qualified to do – for example, plumbing or electrical work – then you might not be covered.
So refrain from jumping on the latest DIY TikTok trends before checking that you’re covered for the work you’re attempting.
Insurers also might not pay out for defective building materials or poor workmanship. Make sure you hire a reputable tradesperson to do any work for you.
Wear and tear
Your policy likely doesn't cover you for general wear and tear. This includes things such as fungus or structural movement.
It’s a good idea to perform a monthly maintenance check of your home to ensure everything is in good condition. That way you avoid an expensive problem later. This applies to any electricals on your policy, too.
Electrical issues, such as mechanical faults or breakdowns, aren't usually 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 your accidental damage cover won’t actually cover it.
For insurers to consider paying out, the damage needs to happen inside your property boundary.
You might not be able to insure your portable electrical items – such as laptops or tablets – for accidental damage.
A gadget insurance policy could be a better option, but make sure you check your policy wording for what is and isn’t covered.
If the damage wasn’t accidental
If the damage caused wasn’t accidental, insurers might not pay out on your claim.
As with any home insurance claim, evidence is essential - and in this case, evidence that it was accidental.
For help, read our guide on how to make a home insurance claim.
Do I need accidental damage insurance?
Accidental damage insurance is an optional extra and a matter of choice. As with all insurance policies, the more cover you get, the higher your insurance costs are. But it does give you more cover if things go wrong.
If you’re a homeowner and you think it’s unlikely that you’ll be carrying out DIY around the house, you might decide against it.
But if you can’t afford the cost of fixing things should they go wrong, you might decide the extra cover is worth it.
If you’re a landlord and have tenants renting your property, then it’s worth considering. If you’re offering a furnished property, it might be an idea to have both accidental contents and accidental buildings cover.
Much like a normal home insurance policy, accidental damage cover can be added to a landlord insurance policy.
If you’re a tenant renting a property, you shouldn’t need buildings insurance as your landlord should have a policy for this. But it's worth considering accidental damage insurance for your contents alongside your standard tenants contents insurance.
Is accidental damage cover worth it?
It often is, but it depends on your attitude towards risk.
If you have accidental damage insurance in place, you have peace of mind that you’re covered for more eventualities. You might find that adding it as an extra to your policy isn’t overly expensive.
But make sure you understand what you’re signing up to. If you make a claim, it could affect your no-claims discount.
Then there’s the excess to consider. If the excess on your policy is £250, you have to pay the first £250 of any claim you make. Even if the damage costs more than £250, you might not claim for the difference because of the impact it has on your no-claims discount.
And make sure you understand any exclusions, such as damage caused by pets or DIY projects.
How do I make an accidental damage claim?
If you need to make an accidental damage claim, it's best to contact your insurer immediately.
But first, check that you've got accidental damage cover in your home insurance policy, then check for details on how to contact them.
Your insurer will ask you questions to understand the details of what happened. The process should go a lot quicker if you've got the following documents ready:
- Your policy number
- Photos of the damage for your insurer to assess - it's important not to throw away any of your damaged items
- Any receipts for lost or damaged items to support your claim
What are the alternatives to accidental damage insurance?
If you don't want accidental damage, you have other alternatives which could be more suitable for your situation. This includes:
Gadget insurance - replaces lost or damaged gadgets including, your smartphone, watch, laptop, and more. This specialist cover could give you more than what you get with a basic accidental damage insurance.
Home emergency cover - covers costs for urgent repairs needed to your home, such as a burst pipe or a boiler that's stopped working. It's sometimes already included in your standard home insurance policy, but check for this.