With accidental damage insurance, if your home or belongings are unexpectedly damaged, you might be able to make a claim. But rather than be included with standard home insurance, most insurers offer it as an optional extra.
What is accidental damage insurance?
Accidental damage is a type of insurance that can be added-on to your buildings or contents cover. It protects you against one-off, unexpected events that cause damage to your property, or what’s inside it. For example, spilling red wine on a new white rug, or smashing your back windows with a football.
Accidental damage not only covers physical damage caused to an item, but also something that resulted in its losing its function (i.e., now unable to perform the task it was designed to do).
However, it does not include damage that is caused by a lack of maintenance over time. For example, if your roof leaks because it hasn’t been looked after.
An insurer may include accidental damage cover as standard, but this is rare. So if you want accidental damage cover, you’ll likely need to pay to have it added on.
What does accidental damage insurance cover?
Depending on whether you take out buildings insurance, contents insurance, or both, accidental damage cover can protect you from a range of sudden mishaps.
Buildings insurance accidental damage
Accidental damage cover combined with buildings insurance will provide cover to damage done to your home’s structure, as well as any permanent fixtures and fittings. Cover typically includes unintentional damage done to the following: -
- Glass broken in windows, doors, conservatories and greenhouses.
- Holes made in walls, ceilings and floorboards
- Kitchen units, including built-in appliances
- Drains, pipes, and cables
- Damage made to toilets, sinks, and other bathroom fittings
- Broken locks or keys
- Cracked tiles on the wall or floor
Contents insurance accidental damage
If you take out accidental damage cover with your contents insurance, the items in your home will be protected against any unforeseen and unintentional mishaps. Generally speaking, items covered by accidental damage will include: -
- TV, game consoles, and sound systems*
- Laptops, mobile phones, desktop computers and tablets*
- Furniture and carpets
- Jewellery and watches
- Vases, mirrors, and ornaments
- Crockery and cutlery
*What about accidental damage to gadgets?
Although your accidental damage policy should cover your TV and any other gadgets, you will need to remember that there is a single-item limit on how much you can claim. You will also only be covered for items that are damaged within your home. For this reason, if you do have expensive gadgets that become damaged by accident outside your property’s boundary, you may struggle to have a claim accepted.
If you own do own a number of expensive gadgets – such as smartphones, laptops, PCs, and game consoles – it might be worth considering taking out gadget insurance or personal possessions cover. Both could provide a higher level of protection than accidental damage, including cover for loss, damage or theft outside the home.
What is not covered?
Exclusions will vary from one insurer to another, so always make sure to check your policy for what is and isn’t covered with your accidental damage insurance.
But as a general rule, you will not be able to claim for any of the following: -
- Gradual deterioration (i.e., wear and tear)
- Your home moving, settling, or shrinking
- Damage caused by vermin or an infestation
- Damage caused by a paid maintenance worker or builder
- Electrical breakdown or failure
- Water entering the home (unless from a storm or flood)
- Damage caused by pets
- Damage caused by a lodger or paying guest
It’s also important to remember that most policies will be voided if your house is unoccupied for a certain period of time (normally between 30 and 60 days).
Exactly how long your home can remain empty before your insurance becomes invalid will be stated in your policy.
If you are planning to leave your house unattended for an extended period, make sure to tell your insurer so that your policy remains valid.
Am I covered if my pets cause damage?
Most insurers offering accidental damage cover will not include cover for pet damage, so be sure to check the wording in your policy.
In some instances, your insurer may accept certain types of pet damage under their accidental damage cover. For example, if your cat knocks over your priceless Ming Dynasty vase, you may be able to make a claim. But typical damage caused by pets, such as chewing, tearing, scratching, vomiting etc. – often will not be covered.
If you want insurance that will cover damage caused by your pets, you may need to take out extended accidental damage cover.
Is damage caused by children covered?
Yes, and you will be covered no matter how old the person who caused the damage is.
Although a teenager or adult could easily cause accidental damage in the home, a child is more likely to cause damage to items such as TVs and phones, furniture and walls. For example, using crayons to re-decorate your living room wall.
Does it cover DIY work?
If you’re undertaking DIY work and have a sudden accident resulting in damage - for example, you burst a pipe while putting a nail through a wall - you may be covered.
However, if you are doing work, you are not qualified to do, e.g., electrics or plumbing work – then you may not be covered. Even if you hire a tradesperson, your insurer may not pay out if building materials are found to be defective or if the workmanship was deemed to be of a poor standard.
Before undertaking any DIY work, make sure you read your policy carefully and hire a professional and reputable tradesman for tasks that require specific skill sets.
What is the difference between standard buildings or contents cover and accidental damage cover?
Standard buildings and contents insurance will generally cover you against things such as fire, flooding, storms, and theft. In other words, events that are outside your control. Accidental damage cover on the other hand will protect you against events that happen unexpectedly and are non-deliberate.
How can I make a claim?
Although you’ll have 180 days (approximately 6 months) to make a claim, you should contact your insurer as soon as possible.
When contacting your insurer to make an accidental damage claim, make sure you have prepared the following: -
- Check your policy to confirm you have accidental damage cover.
- Have your policy number
- Take photos of the damage and collect any additional evidence that supports your claim.
- Keep a hold of the damaged item/s. They may be needed during the claims process by your insurer for assessment.
Will I need to pay an excess for accidental damage claims?
Yes. Any claims you make on your accidental damage cover will carry an excess. This is typically around £250. But depending on the damage, you might want to consider whether it’s worth claiming. If the damage costs only slightly more than the default excess (£250), it may not be worth making a claim, as it could impact your no-claims discount. It could also push up the costs of your premiums when you next renew.
My claim was rejected. Can I dispute it?
Sometimes, an insurer may reject your claim. With accidental damage, your claim may be refused if: -
- The damage was not accidental
- The damage was accidental but was excluded from the policy (e.g., wear and tear)
- You do not have accidental damage cover
- The insurer says there was no damage
- The insurer says there was no accident
If you do not agree with the decision your insurer has made, you can contact them to make a c complaint and file a dispute. In the event you do not reach a satisfactory resolution with your insurer, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman.
Is accidental damage cover worth it?
Accidental damage cover bulks up your existing home insurance cover to offer you more peace of mind. For example, if a ball smashes a window and you don’t fix it right away, your home’s security is at risk. Accidental damage cover helps resolve these types of issues.
However, taking on accidental damage cover will increase what you pay on your premium. And, if you make a claim, not only will you have to pay an excess, but your No Claims Discount will be reduced when it comes time to renew your policy.
Overall, deciding whether or not your property and belongings need accidental damage cover will be dependent on your personal circumstances. But if it is something you are considering, make sure to read the policy exclusions and terms and conditions carefully before committing.
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