Accidental Damage Home Insurance Explained

5 minute read

Spilled glass of red wine on a pale carpet

Whether you rent or own a property, it's best to have home insurance in place. However, before any accidents happen (as they sometimes do), you need to know exactly what is covered by your insurance and what isn't. This way you can determine whether or not you need to take out an accidental damage policy as well as standard home and contents insurance. Below, you can find out exactly what accidental damage is, what the policy includes as extra and whether you should get it.


What is accidental damage?

Accidental damage is simply described as “unexpected and unintended damage caused by something sudden and external”. This may sound a bit vague, but it essentially covers damage in your home that occurred unintentionally as an isolated incident. The additional cover protects your home and the items in it that might not otherwise be covered through your standard home insurance.

But what is considered accidental damage? Knowing what is ‘accidental’ and what isn’t can be confusing, particularly as every potential incident cannot be laid out in a policy book. Some accidents, such as a broken TV set, are generally covered on a contents insurance policy, but an accidental damage extension to your home insurance policy covers much more than this, including damage caused by young children (spilled food or drinks, crayon on the walls, etc.) and sometimes DIY mishap caused by homeowners. These sorts of things aren’t generally covered through regular home and contents polices.


What does accidental damage cover?

As with all insurance policies, there are some accidents and incidents that are covered and others that aren’t.

Generally, a buildings accidental damage policy will cover unexpected and accidental damage to the property itself. This could include broken windows and doors, damaged toilet facilities, such as a broken sink, split cables, blocked pipes or septic tanks and broken locks. Likewise, contents accidental damage cover will protect the items inside your home when accidents happen, such as a smashed plate set, a torn sofa, a water damaged floor and more.


Accidental damage - what in general isn't covered?

Rather than discussing all the eventualities of what is covered, it may be easier to explain what is unlikely to be covered, as this list will likely be shorter.


Damage caused by pets and other animals

Very few insurers will cover damage caused by a pet, whether this be a chewed dining table leg, a scratched sofa or a fouled mattress. As so many of us have pets in the home, insurance companies would be inundated with queries of this nature, and so they aren’t covered on either a standard or accidental damage policy.

Damage caused by moths, insects, vermin and parasites may also be excluded from your policy (though this varies between providers). If you do have some sort of infestation in your home, it’s important to solve the problem as quickly as possible before it gets worse and further damage occurs. However, you will have to pay for pest control yourself, if your emergency cover doesn't include pests. Preventative measures should be put in place to prevent damage where possible, such as anti-moth sachets or drawer liners.


Wet or dry rot damage

As this kind of damage isn’t accidental or caused by you or another family member, it’s generally not covered under an accidental policy.


Wear and tear

Home insurance policies of any sort don’t often include damage caused by general wear and tear. The more you use things, the more likely they are to break as things don’t last forever. Clothes eventually wear out and get holes in them, or a smart phone’s battery stops holding its charge after a few years. As wear and tear is not accidental damage, items damaged by age or overuse are not covered.


Items inside a property that you don't live in

Standard home contents accidental damage applies only to your personal belongings within your current place of residence (how many days you live there a year may be a factor). It is recommended that tenants take out individual contents policies to cover their personal effects since these will not be covered by any policy their landlord may have. If you are a landlord, you can take out specific landlord contents insurance designed to cover items you own inside a property that you let out.


Hot tubs or jacuzzis

These items are not covered, even if they have an electrical or mechanical breakdown.


Software or data lost because of a virus

Computers themselves and other pieces of hardware such as the screen, keyboard or mouse will be covered under accidental damage. This means if your computer has a virus or you spill a drink over it, you should be able to claim and get money for the amount the computer was worth. However, accidental policies don’t usually cover the software or the data that may have been lost from the computer, particularly if backups weren’t kept.

Brush covered in pink paint and spilled paint on pale carpet from renovation

Should I get accidental damage home insurance?

Having read the information above to get an idea of what most accidental damage policies cover, should you get it? It's a good idea to weigh up the benefits of having it with the additional cost and the potential claim excess. In most cases, it may only be a little bit extra every year and this could make up for the cost of replacing any damaged items yourself. 

Just be aware that, as with any insurance policy, your premium may increase slightly if you make a claim. When claiming, you should check how much the excess is and make sure that this isn’t more than the cost of the item. For instance, if a mirror has fallen off the wall, it’s probably not worth claiming on your home insurance if it costs less than the excess price.


For more advice on looking after your home, don't forget to check out the rest of our Useful Articles.