Accidental Damage is likely to be one element of your
home insurance policy to cause confusion. With most Building and/or Contents Insurance policies, the definition
of Accidental Damage will be made clear to you. However, the definition may be different from one insurer to another.
Each year, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) receive lots of complaints where insurers have rejected claims for accidental damage. The reason is almost always due to confusion around the meaning of accidental damage.
The Ombudsman's Definition
The FOS define accidental damage as something that is:
- Not only physical damage to an item, but also something that resulted in a loss of function (unable to perform the task it was designed to do)
As with all insurance policies, it is important to read it thoroughly and make sure it's right for your needs. Doing this will ensure there won't be any nasty surprises further down the line.
So What Exactly Is Accidental Damage Cover?
Like the definition above says, Accidental Damage (AD) included with your home
insurance will cover you for unintentional acts that cause damage. You will find that AD is often an optional extra
that you can add on to your basic policy, however it is sometimes included though so always check thoroughly.
You should also take note that AD will be separate for your Contents and your Buildings Insurance if you have both.
Accidental Damage Cover For Your Contents
If you decide to add AD cover to your contents policy, you will be protecting
yourself in the event of many common accidents in the home. These can include:
- Spilling wine
- Knocking over and damaging your television set
- Damage to your furniture
- Damage to your mobile or laptop
Without AD cover for your contents, you may only be covered for fire, theft and vandalism. Most people are keen to have cover for a wider range of events so add AD to their policy.
Accidental Damage Cover For Your Building
It may surprise you to know that your buildings insurance covers your kitchen
and bathroom fittings. This is because buildings insurance covers not only the physical structure of your home,
it also protects your permanent fixtures and fittings. With this in mind, AD cover is definitely worth considering.
The main feature of buildings insurance is to give you peace of mind in the event of a fire, flood or criminal damage. However, if you accidentally break a window, you will need AD insurance to cover its repair.
Other situations that would need AD cover:
- Damage to drains connected to your home
- Cracking your kitchen tiles
- Putting your foot through the ceiling whilst in your loft
- Damage to your toilet, bath or sinks
- A visitor breaking your front door
Knowing these eventualities are covered can provide some peace of mind - especially if you enjoy a spot of DIY. Using power tools around the home is a perfect reason to make sure you have accidental damage cover!
What May NOT Be Protected By Accidental Damage Cover
One common exclusion seen in many policies is any damage caused by your pets. If your new puppy chews up your carpet
or scratches your furniture, any damage is unlikely to be covered. Similarly, you are unlikely to be covered
for damaged caused by incidents like rodent infestations. It may be possible to extend your policy to include
damage by pets, but of course this is will be at a cost.
General wear and tear is another common exclusion. Your sofa may finally rip because it is old and worn. This will not be considered to be accidental damage as it could be foreseen and is essentially unavoidable.
You will also need to check what the item claim limit is on your policy. Most insurance companies only allow you to claim up to £1000 for high-risk items. If you have expensive items in the home, you will need to specify them individually.
Bear in mind that most policies will only cover one item, not a whole set. You may have accidentally damaged one kitchen cupboard. A standard policy will only replace the damaged cupboard, not the whole kitchen. It is possible to find insurance that covers 'matching sets'. If this is important to you be careful to check you policy wording.
You already know that each policy is different. It is always important to read about all of the circumstances which will be excluded before taking out any policy. This ensures that your needs are covered, avoiding disappointment if you have to claim. Each policy is unique, so to avoid any disappointments in the event of a claim make sure you read the terms thoroughly and list the contents of your home accurately.
Accidental Damage Cover For Tenants
If you are renting, you will still want to add AD to your contents insurance.
As a tenant, you will not need to take out buildings cover as your landlord is responsible for that. Most Landlord's insurance is different from standard home insurance. This type of policy will cover your landlord for any damage to their property, either accidental or deliberate.
Accidental Damage cover is usually an optional extra. It is up to you to decide if it is something that
you want but will undoubtedly give you some extra peace of mind. Compare different policies, consider what
is and isn't important to you and consider any extra costs, such as excesses, that you may need to pay if you make a claim.
Accidental Damage is the most common reason for making a claim on your home insurance. If you have children, are keen on DIY or particularly accident-prone, it might be essential.