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.
An accidental damage policy covers any damage that occurs suddenly as a result of an unexpected and non-deliberate external action.
That basically means if you spilled red wine on a brand-new cream carpet the policy would help you cover the cost of cleaning. The insurer might even offer to replace it.
It doesn’t come as part of your home insurance policy, it’s more like an added extra. So, if you’re somewhat accident prone, it might be worth investing in it.
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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.
You can add accidental damage cover to either of these policies. Let’s look at what it covers in each of them.
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.
Would this cover 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 would give you full protection.
READ MORE: Baby-proofing your home
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’d 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.
What isn’t covered by an accidental damage policy?
As with any policy, you’ll find there are usually exclusions:
If you’ve got a pet that like 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.
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.
Insurers also won’t pay out for defective building materials or poor workmanship. Make sure you get 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. If you maintain your home regularly you can spot any problems developing and address them.
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.
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Taking belongings outside the home
If you’re moving home 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.
You won’t 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.
Do I need to take out accidental damage cover if I live in rented accommodation?
You won’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.