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Accidental Damage Home Insurance Explained

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If you own your own home then home insurance is essential. 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 was done unintentionally as a one-off 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 or stairlift, are generally covered on a contents insurance policy, but an accidental 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 disasters 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.

But rather than discussing all the eventualities of what is covered, it may be easier to explain what isn’t covered, as this list will likely be shorter.

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What isn’t covered?

● 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 is also not covered. 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. 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.

● Any items if you don’t live there

If you have an accidental cover insurance policy, however you don’t live in the property or it is rented/let/sublet, then none of the items inside or the property itself is covered. If you are a landlord, then contents insurance and accidental cover will need to be organised by the tenants. The policy should be for you and your household and anyone else living there will need their own contents insurance to protect their items. It may also not be covered if you don’t live there for a specified number of days per year.

● 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.

Should I get accidental damage home insurance?

Now that you understand exactly what accidental home insurance covers, should you get it? You need to weigh up the benefits of having it with the additional cost. In most cases, it may only be a little bit extra every year and this would more than make up for the cost of replacing any damaged items yourself. For instance, a carpet that’s had red wine spilled on it could cost a few hundred pounds to replace, however the insurance would cover this for you. You will also need to consider how much excess you would be required to pay should an incident occur and weigh up if this is worth it.

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.

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