Accidental damage cover is usually an add-on to your home insurance policy and can be a cost effective way to avoid expensive mistakes. We investigate what it is, what it covers and whether you should get it.
Imagine this: you come home one day only to discover that your kids have decided to paint a masterpiece on your expensive new lounge suite.
Or think about what you’d do if your weekend’s DIY home improvement work turned out to be more of an exercise in pipe-bursting.
Most people would run to call their insurer, but if you only have basic buildings and contents insurance, you could find that you’re not covered for these kinds of problems.
That’s where accidental damage cover comes in.
Included in most extended home insurance policies and available as an add-on for standard policies, accidental damage insurance covers you for unforeseen and unintentional events that cause physical damage to your belongings, or cause items to stop functioning properly.
Accidental damage cover may also be an option to offer cover for your expensive smartphone, iPhone or otherwise, should you damage, have it stolen or lose it.
But there are exclusions, so read our handy guide to find our where your standard home insurance stops and accidental damage cover starts – and what you’ll be covered for if you get it.
Where does home insurance end and accidental damage cover begin?
With standard home contents insurance, if you knock over your television, drop your stereo down the stairs or manage to crack a random ceramic family heirloom, you’ll be on your own.
Home contents insurance is designed to protect the contents of your home covering them for emergency situations such as natural disasters, vandalism and burglary – not a clumsy owner.
Likewise, home buildings insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding your home should it be damaged in similar disastrous circumstances – not from amateur home improvements gone wrong.
That’s where accidental damage insurance comes to the rescue. From accidentally burst pipes and broken windows to havoc caused by small children, you’ll be able to claim for accidental damage – and if you have a lot of expensive or valuable objects around the house, it could save you a small fortune.
What’s covered under accidental damage cover for contents insurance?
Accidental damage cover for home contents insurance can be claimed for stationary electronic equipment (such as TVs, desktop computers, audio equipment and satellite equipment if fixed to your home), as well as glass, mirrors and furniture around the home.
In some cases, accidental damage cover will also give you protection against spillages, burns and tears to carpets or furniture – whether it’s a glass of wine on the couch or your kids with a magic marker.
Accidental damage may also provide cover for accidental damage to your smartphone whilst in the home. (But note that you will still need ‘all risks cover’ or ‘personal possessions cover’ to cover it whilst away from the home).
To make sure you get the cover you expect from accidental damage insurance, always read your policy carefully so you’re aware how your insurer defines accidental damage and what is included and excluded from the cover.
What’s covered under accidental damage for buildings insurance?
Did you know that (until October 2011) you’re responsible for the maintenance of the pipes and drainage systems directly beneath your house? It’s something many people aren’t aware of – until they call their insurer to report accidental damage.
Accidental damage cover for buildings insurance is great for DIY warriors and those who like to save money by doing their own home improvement work because it covers accidental damage to:
- Your kitchen and work surfaces
- Pipes, drains and cables beneath your home
- Fixed glass
- Sanitary ware – such as toilets, basins, baths and showers
- Areas of your home caused during DIY work – such as drilling through a wall only to find you’ve just bored through your broadband connection.
Policies from different insurers can differ, so make sure you read the small print carefully before you sign up.
What isn’t covered by accidental damage insurance?
A range of common exclusions apply to accidental damage insurance, but they’re easy to spot if you consider what counts as an accident and what doesn’t.
For example, damage through wear and tear and general deterioration is excluded because it can be foreseen. Likewise, any deliberate act or defective workmanship won’t be covered – and because portable electronics and clothing usually spend a lot of time outside the home, they usually aren’t covered either.
Other exclusions include damage caused by pets, vermin and paying tenants – so dog lovers beware, accidental damage cover won’t cover Fido’s wake of destruction.
How do I choose the right damage cover for me?
Whether accidental damage cover comes with your current home insurance policy or you’re buying it as an add-on, there are two main things you need to look for make sure you get the cover you expect.
Firstly, check that you get new-for-old cover. This means that if you break something by accident, the insurer will compensate you for the new replacement value of the object rather than its depreciated value at the time it was damaged.
When it comes to things like electronic equipment, the difference can run into the hundreds of pounds.
Secondly, check the limit placed by your insurer on high-risk items. Some insurers place an upper limit of only £1,000 per item – which doesn’t go very far for more expensive furniture and equipment. So make sure the limits of your policy cover the items that you could conceivably have to claim for.
As with all insurance policies, check your insurance excesses. Higher excesses might mean lower premiums, but they could also cost you a lot of money when it comes time to claim. And if you have very valuable items, you should be looking at high net worth home insurance as standard.
Ultimately, the best way to keep your valuables safe is to be careful and take good care of them – but for the accident-prone, those with young children and DIY gurus, accidental damage cover could be a life-saving addition to your home insurance policy.