Accidental damage caused by pets

Does your home insurance cover you for doggy destruction and moggy mishaps?

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 30 December 2021  | 3 mins read

Does home insurance cover damage caused by pets?

We wouldn’t be without our beloved pets but if you’ve got a boisterous beagle or a clawing cat, they could create thousands of pounds worth of damage to your home.

Standard home insurance policies are there to cover loss or damage to your home and belongings caused by big events like fires, floods or storms, as well as crimes like theft or malicious damage.

Most home insurance policies won’t provide cover for pet damage, but there are some policies that will.

So, it’s a case of doing your research and checking the terms and conditions before deciding  what’s right for you.

Key points

  • Most accidental damage policies specifically exclude pet damage caused by chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling
  • If cover for pet damage is included in an accidental damage policy, it will probably only apply to damage done in your own home
  • Your pet insurance may cover you for any damage your dog does to another person’s home. This is known as third party liability cover

What does accidental damage insurance cover?

To be in with any chance of claiming for damage done by your dog, cat or rabbit to your property or its contents, you’ll need to have some level of accidental damage included on your home insurance.

Accidental damage sometimes comes as standard on premium policies, but it’s often sold as an added extra on more basic policies.

It may cover accidents like your dog’s waggy tail knocking over an expensive vase, but many specifically exclude pet damage caused by chewing, scratching, tearing and fouling.

If it’s really important to you, do your research to find a policy that provides insurance for this type of damage.

What’s not covered by accidental damage insurance?

The most comprehensive policies may cover damage caused by pets chewing, scratching and tearing. But typically, even these extended policies will exclude damage caused if your pet vomits, fouls or urinates on things in the home.

It may also exclude:

  • Puppies and kittens under eight weeks old
  • Garden damage
  • Damage that occurred when the dog was left alone - either in a car or house
  • Damage caused by so-called ‘dangerous dog’ breeds

Am I covered if my pet damages someone else's property?

If cover for pet damage is included in your home’s accidental damage policy, it will probably only apply to damage done in your own home.

However, your pet insurance may have third party liability cover for damage your dog does to another person’s property. Check your policy documents as it may be included as standard, or available as an optional extra to buy.

Third party liability cover pays out for legal expenses, as well as any compensation and costs that may be awarded against you in court if your dog injures someone or damages their property. It will also pay out for vet bills if your dog attacks another animal.

Policies won’t usually offer this type of cover for cats.

Your home insurance policy may also be able to step in if you have legal expenses cover. It can provide you with access to legal advice and representation if your dog has caused damage to a property, resulting in you being sued and going to court.

Does home insurance cover damages by wild animals?

It’s not just pets that can wreak havoc on your home.

All sorts of animals, from birds and bees to rats and mice, can potentially make mischief.

Accidental damage on your home policy could cover you for things like a bird flying into a window and smashing it. Check your policy conditions to see exactly what you are insured for.

In most cases, a standard home insurance policy won’t cover the cost of removing an infestation of pests such as rats and mice. You’d have to pay for a removal service.

However, an add-on called home emergency cover could pay for the removal of infestations such as mice, rats or wasp nests from your home. 

Anything that requires specialist removal, like bees or moths, is usually excluded.

How to avoid accidental damage caused by pets

It can be a good idea to deter destructive behaviour by your pets, so you’re not left with an expensive mess to clear up, repair or replace.

Take your puppy to training classes

By taking your puppy to classes with a trained professional, you can get advice and tips on how to avoid your dog becoming destructive. Even if your dog is older, you can still see a behaviorist to address any problems, like separation anxiety.

Limit where your pet can go

If you’re going out, you may want to think about keeping them in a safe space that they feel comfortable and relaxed in. Try to avoid leaving them for long periods of time.

Banish boredom

Puppies and dogs may chew when they’re bored or lonely. Make sure they’re walked an appropriate amount for their breed and age. Also, you may want to think about stimulating toys to keep them busy.

Soothe separation anxiety

Anxious pets can be destructive through no fault of their own. Leaving the radio on when you go out can be calming and reassuring. But make sure it’s tuned to a channel that plays soothing classical music or one with quiet voices. No loud rock music for dogs, as it may cause even more angst

Use repellent sprays

Anti-chew and anti-clawing sprays can deter dogs and cats from gnawing or scratching at expensive items or areas around the home and garden. Choose formulas that are eco-friendly and non-toxic, free from parabens, chlorine, ammonia and solvents

A place to scratch

Give your cat a dedicated scratching post. Clawing on this dedicated area (rather than on your sofa or wallpaper!) can limit damage to your home. Clawing like this is a natural instinct for cats as it helps shed the outer husk of their claws to keep them sharp.