Will insurance cover your home against damage caused by neighbours?
When a neighbour damages your property, it’s always best to have a chat with them first and try to reach an amicable agreement.
However, disputes can happen over who pays for repairs, so it’s wise to check if your home insurance policy will cover you.
In general, your home insurance policy should cover you for issues that aren’t your fault, including any damage your neighbour causes to your home as a result of an insured peril such as a fire or flood.
In some cases, you may have to claim on your policy under accidental damage and pay an excess.
Alternatively, the damage to your property may be covered by your neighbour’s home insurance.
It’s important to keep a record of the damage that is done to your property, so it can be used as evidence if needed.
Accidents happen, and neighbours can unintentionally damage your property in all sorts of ways, from smashed windows to tree roots causing cracks in your driveway.
Let’s use the example of a boiler leaking in the flat above you and causing water damage to your ceiling.
In an ideal scenario, your neighbour would offer to pay for the damage to your property out of their own pocket, or their insurance company would cover the costs. Things aren't that simple though.
Their insurance company may potentially refuse their claim because the damage caused was due to poor maintenance on their part.
In such cases, you’d need to contact your own insurer and put in a claim on your own policy.
Depending on the circumstances, your insurer may choose to pursue your neighbour’s insurance company for the costs afterwards.
Your neighbour would only be liable if they were found to be negligent and had failed to take appropriate care to prevent such a problem happening. Perhaps their boiler may have leaked before and they hadn’t had it repaired or inspected annually.
Most damage caused by a neighbour is of course unintentional. For example, a tile may blow from their roof in windy weather and damage a window in your home. In cases like this, a claim can be made on your home insurance’s accidental damage cover.
If neighbours inflict criminal damage on your property, like deliberately smashing garden pots or kicking a dent in your door, you should be able to claim on your cover.
The incident needs to be reported to the police as your insurance company will need a crime reference number to proceed with the claim.
In cases where poor home maintenance has led to damage, insurers can refuse to pay out claims.
When a property is left empty for long periods, for instance if it’s awaiting probate or sale, it’s more at risk of break-ins and vandalism.
Plus, with no-one at the property to spot a potential problem quickly, empty homes are also more likely to suffer extensive damage from burst water mains, frozen pipes or electrics shorting and fires. All of which can damage a neighbour’s property too.
If your home is going to be empty for longer than a specific period, usually more than 30 consecutive days, then a standard home insurance policy won’t cover you.
You should take out an unoccupied home policy instead. It will cover damage to buildings and contents caused by fires, flood, storms and leaking pipes.
Your insurer may pay out for damage caused to a neighbour’s property only if it can be proven that you were legally liable for causing the damage.
If you don’t have home insurance or if your insurer rejects your claim, you could ask your neighbour to pay for repairing the damage they’ve caused.
If they refuse to accept responsibility, you could suggest going to a mediation service to discuss the problem.
As a very last resort, you can take your neighbour to court for damages due to negligence. You'll only win the case if it can be proven that your neighbour was negligent and didn’t take reasonable care to prevent the damage from occurring.
Costs for this sort of legal action are very expensive, but they could be covered if you have home insurance that includes legal expenses.
It’s a landlord’s responsibility to repair building damage to a tenant’s home, including any that has been caused by your neighbour.
They usually have landlord insurance which covers them for these types of events. You may have to claim on your own home contents insurance policy for damage to your personal possessions though.
We all want to keep the peace with our neighbours, so watch out for issues that may cause animosity, including:
Nobody wants to fall out with their neighbours or get into disputes with them.
If there’s a particular issue affecting you, the best approach is to talk to your neighbours and see if a solution can be reached. They may not even be aware that something is causing you an inconvenience.
If they refuse to do anything to rectify the issue or reach some sort of compromise, you could contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau to see what next steps are.