Accidental damage cover and home insurance

Accidental damage cover isn’t included on all home insurance policies as standard. Find out what it is, why you might need it and how to dispute a rejected claim.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 25 May 2021  | 3 min read

What is accidental damage?

Accidental damage is defined as sudden and unexpected damage to your property or contents by an outside force. For instance, spilling a drink and staining the carpet, or drilling through a pipe.

Accidental damage cover is sometimes included in home insurance, but usually it’s sold as an optional extra.

You can get accidental damage cover for your possessions as well as for your building. Just because you have one, don’t assume you’re covered for the other.

Is accidental damage cover worth it?

Household accidents are common, particularly if you have children - they do tend to be a little more accident prone.

But then, accidents can happen irrespective of kids - and there's no real way you can predict them.

If you're a little clumsy, or have a habit of spilling things, it might be worth it. You'll have to weigh it up against the added cost on your premiums. Without accidental damage cover, you’ll have to pay the cost of repairs or replacements yourself. 

Be wary of exclusions when you're working out if it's worth it or not. Pet damage is rarely covered. Neither is spending a bank holiday weekend doing DIY and causing damage - unless you can prove it wasn't your workmanship that caused the problem. 

What’s covered by accidental damage insurance?

Some types of damage will fall under buildings insurance, others under contents insurance.

Buildings insurance accidental damage

Your buildings insurance policy covers unforeseen and unexpected damage caused to, or by, the fabric of the building itself.

Some situations that might typically be covered are:

  • Damage caused by your children, or visiting children
  • Falling through the attic floor
  • Broken glass in windows, doors, fan lights, skylights and solar panels
  • Damaged wash basins, pedestals, baths, sinks, loos and showers
  • Broken or blocked service cables, pipes, septic tanks and wires
  • Broken locks or keys

Read your policy terms to find out exactly what you will or won’t be covered for.

Contents insurance accidental damage

Your household items, valuables and personal belongings are covered under contents insurance, but again, accidental damage cover rarely comes as standard.

Out of 344 contents insurance policies on Defaqto, only 19% covered accidental damage. It could be added as an optional extra on 79% of policies.[2]

Your possessions will be protected by accidental damage insurance:

  • In your home
  • Outdoors within the border of your property
  • While you’re moving to a new house with a professional contractor
  • If you take them with you on holiday, or travelling with you around the UK and Europe - as long as you have personal possessions cover

What’s excluded?

Make sure you’re aware of any accidental damage exclusions on your policy. For example, buildings insurance accidental damage will typically exclude damage caused by wear and tear.

Check where and how your contents are covered too. Accidental damage might not cover possessions in student halls, in storage, or in a caravan.

And, there could be a different claim limit imposed by the insurer for accidental damage and theft.

Not all accidents are covered and usually you won’t be able to claim for:

  • Wear and tear, and shrinkage
  • Water entering the home, except for storms and floods
  • Electrical breakdown or failure
  • Vermin and insects
  • Fungus
  • Faulty workmanship, or defective building materials
  • Building work for alternations, renovations, additions and repairs
  • Chewing, tearing and wear and tear caused by pets
  • Damage caused by a lodger or paying guest

Damaged gadgets are another common exclusion - they usually need a standalone gadget insurance policy or itemising on your home insurance.

You might struggle to claim on your contents insurance if expensive gadgets are damaged outside of the home.

You’re only covered up to a certain value, and although they’re covered for accidental damage inside the home, they aren’t protected outside the boundary of your property.

If your house has been unoccupied for a long time it’ll void the cover too. How long you can leave your house empty for will be stated in your policy.

Matching sets

Most insurers will only pay out to replace the damaged item, even if it’s part of a set.

That means could end up with a new sofa that’s different to your original suite. The same applies for kitchen units, bathroom suites and bedroom furniture, to name a few - you’ll need to check the policy details.

If you’re concerned about odd furnishings, check whether your policy has matching set cover. If it does, the insurer will replace the entire set if one piece gets damaged.

21% of buildings insurance policies offer accidental damage as standard.
It's an optional extra on 77% of policies.

Disputing rejected accidental damage claims

Your insurance claim could be refused if:

  • The damage wasn’t accidental
  • Your policy didn’t cover what happened
  • You don’t have accidental damage cover

If you don’t agree with your insurer’s decision, you can contact them to dispute the claim. Take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you and your insurer can’t come to a resolution.

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[2] Last checked 9 December 2022