The importance of accidental damage cover

When taking out property insurance, how much attention do you pay to the accidental damage cover? It’s important to get the right level of cover, so you don’t experience difficulties in the event of a property insurance repair claim. Here’s our guide.

What is accidental damage cover? 

The Association of British Insurers defines accidental damage as “unexpected or unplanned damage or harm caused to property or a person”. Accidental damage cover is defined as “protecting against damage resulting from everyday household accidents like breakages and spillages”.

Such cover isn’t always included in a policy, unless you specify that you want it, and it will almost always incur an additional premium.

Accidental damage cover is notoriously inconsistent from insurer to insurer, so it’s a good idea to understand exactly what a policy will include before you buy. This way you can ensure you have sufficient cover in case you need to make an insurance repair claim.

What is covered by accidental damage insurance?  

Items covered will vary according to each policy, so always read the small print carefully. In general, accidental damage for your contents insurance will cover things like:

  • spilling drinks, paint or nail polish on carpets and furniture
  • dropping electrical items, such as televisions and computers
  • dropping something in your sink and cracking it
  • accidental damage by children, such as if your toddler draws on the sofa or walls.

You can also add accidental damage cover to your buildings insurance. This will cover for things like:

  • internal damage caused by overflowing blocked gutters
  • accidentally drilling or hammering through a water pipe
  • climbing in the loft and putting your foot through the ceiling
  • a neighbour’s children kicking a ball through your greenhouse window.

You can read about some of the more unusual accidental damage insurance claims, such as a set of false teeth being melted by a cooker, in this blog from Moneywise.

What’s not covered

There are a lot of things that won’t be covered by accidental damage cover, so again, check the policy first. As a rule, the following aren’t usually covered:

  • Intentional, deliberate damage
  • Everyday wear and tear
  • Age-related deterioration
  • Mechanical failure
  • Defective workmanship
  • Insect or vermin infestation
  • Damage caused by pets

So, for example, if your ten-year-old dishwasher develops a fault and breaks down, you probably can’t claim. Similarly, if you have a kitten who likes to use your sofa as a scratching post, you’re unlikely to be able to claim. If you have pets, talk to your insurer to find out what they can cover you for.

Valuable items

While accidental damage to your television is likely to be covered, valuable items such as sports equipment, portable electronics, clothing, expensive jewellery and musical instruments are not.

Instead, list these as specified items within your policy. Most policies give you the option to name portable items over a certain value.

You can also obtain separate gadget insurance for items such as mobile phones, watches and laptops. However, insurance for these items can be included as a benefit in a paid-for bank account – so double-check what you already have, to avoid paying twice!

How much does accidental damage cover cost?

Each policy is different but, as a rough guide, adding accidental damage to your existing insurance policy could cost an additional £20 to £100 per year.

If you have children, or regular young visitors to your home, you may well consider this a worthwhile investment as accidents are more likely to happen. Even if you do not, it is still worth considering how you would go about replacing valuable or essential items should they get broken.

Temporary cover

If you are having a lot of visitors, such as at Christmas or if you host a party, it might be worth adding accidental damage cover because the risk of damage will be greater.

Likewise, if you are planning to carry out some DIY, check to see if you have sufficient cover and, if not, consider increasing it. Remember that, depending on what work you are planning, you may need to add it to both your contents and buildings insurance.

Guests or tenants

If you have paying guests or tenants, you will need to take out specific insurance such as landlord insurance or guest house insurance. Talk to your insurance broker or the company that provides your existing insurance to check exactly what you need.

How do I ensure I have the right level of cover?

Here are our top tips:

  1. Consider what could get damaged in your property and what it might cost to replace or repair.
  2. Check your existing policy – you may already have sufficient cover. If you’re unsure, check with your insurance company or broker.
  3. Understand exactly what is covered before you agree to a policy. If you do not have a sufficient level of cover, or indeed any cover at all, you may not be eligible to make an insurance repair claim should you need to.

Don’t make a false claim

Unfortunately, accidental damage cover is regularly exploited or misused by people making false claims. If you are caught doing this, you will find that your cover is immediately invalidated, so you won’t receive any compensation at all. You will often have difficulty obtaining insurance cover in future too, so it really isn’t worth it!

If you have any queries about accidental damage cover or need to make a property insurance repairs claim, contact Sarrani at info@sarrani.com or call us on 020 3006 3126.