Accidental damage insurance

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What is accidental damage insurance?

Accidental damage insurance helps cover the costs of repairing or replacing an item that's been damaged or destroyed by an accident at home. It can be added to your contents insurance policy, usually for an additional fee.

What does accidental damage insurance cover? 

Accidental damage insurance covers all sorts of mishaps, from inadvertently kicking a football through a window to spilling red wine on the sofa. Some types of accidental damage will fall under buildings insurance, while others will come under contents insurance.

Buildings insurance accidental damage 

This covers accidental damage to the structure of your home, along with its permanent fixtures and fittings. Policies typically include: 

  • broken glass in windows, doors, conservatories and greenhouses
  • unintentional holes made to walls, ceilings and floorboards
  • damage to toilets, wash basins, showers and other bathroom fittings
  • damage to kitchen units, including built-in appliances
  • damage to drains, pipes and cables connected to your home
  • broken locks or keys
  • cracked wall tiles

Contents insurance accidental damage

Mishaps involving your personal belongings are covered under contents insurance with accidental damage cover. Policies typically include:

  • damage to your laptop, mobile phone or tablet at home
  • TVs and stereo systems that have been unintentionally physically broken
  • damage to furniture, including sofas, tables and mattresses
  • damage to your carpets, for example from spilling red wine or coffee
  • broken vases, mirrors and ornaments
  • damage to jewellery and watches
  • damage caused by a professional contractor when moving house
  • damage to your belongings when you take them outside the home (if you have personal possessions cover)

What’s not covered by accidental damage insurance? 

Accidental damage exclusions 

Typically, accidental damage insurance won’t cover: 

  • general wear and tear, and gradual deterioration through age 
  • electrical breakdown or mechanical failure
  • damage by vermin or insects 
  • chewing, tearing, scratching or fouling by pets 

  • fungus 

  • defective building materials or poor workmanship 

  • deliberate damage 

  • accidental damage to any items not covered by your policy 

  • any item over the single item value limit not named in your policy – this limit is the maximum value an item can be worth before you need to add it individually to a policy to make sure it’s covered. When you compare contents insurance with us, the single item limit on policies is £1,500. (pound sign icon?)

Always double-check the terms and conditions of the policy before you buy, so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not. 

If a policy doesn’t define what is meant by accidental damage and you’re in a dispute with your insurance provider about whether an item is covered or not, the Financial Ombudsman typically defines it as something that’s: 

  • unforeseen
  • unintentional
  • not only physical damage to an item, but also something that results in a loss of function (unable to perform the task it was designed to do) 

For example, a blocked drain could be considered damaged even if there was no physical or visible damage. This is because the drain can no longer do what it was designed to do.

How much does accidental damage insurance cost? 

The cost of accidental damage insurance will depend on how much standard cover you take out, along with the value of your home and contents. And if you’ve made a claim on your home insurance before, insurance providers might see you as a higher risk and charge you more.

You could reduce the cost of your home insurance by: 

  • Paying in one go - If you can afford to, pay annually rather than in monthly instalments to avoid being charged interest.
  • Increasing the - excess The excess is the initial amount you pay towards a claim. Paying a higher voluntary excess will lower your premium, but don’t agree to pay more than you can afford.
  • Building up a - no-claims discount The longer you go without making a claim on your home insurance, the bigger the no-claims discount you could build up.
  • Shopping around - Whenever your home insurance comes up for renewal, run a quick comparison at Compare the Market to see if you can find a cheaper policy with the same level of cover.

Does my home insurance include accidental damage? 

Accidental damage insurance, whether it’s for contents, buildings or both, is usually sold as an optional extra alongside standard home insurance policies. You just need to select it as an add-on when you take out your policy, if it’s not included as standard.

Policy cover levels and exclusions may vary. Check the wording carefully before you buy, to make sure you’ve got the level of cover you need. 

Find out more about home insurance.

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What’s a home insurance wear and tear clause? 

For some items, your insurance provider could make a deduction to a claim pay-out on the grounds of wear and tear. This tends to happen where items like clothing, bed linen or curtains are concerned. 

Your provider could take the age of the item into consideration and make a percentage deduction from any settlement amount offered. Your policy documents should outline this clause, if it applies.

What are the alternatives to accidental damage insurance? 

Having accidental damage insurance can be useful, particularly if you have a busy household where mishaps can be a regular occurrence. But you do have other options that might provide you with more tailored cover. These include: 

Home emergency cover
This provides immediate help in an emergency situation if there’s a chance of further damage to the property or a risk to the health and safety of anyone living there. For example, a blocked toilet or an electrical fault that leaves you without power. Always check the policy so you’re sure exactly what is and isn’t covered.

Gadget insurance
If you own a lot of expensive gadgets like smartphones, smartwatches, laptops and games consoles, specialist gadget insurance could give you more protection than you’d get with a basic home contents policy with accidental damage cover.  

Accidental damage pet insurance 
If you have pets, most standard accidental damage policies won’t cover damage caused by your furry friends chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling. You’ll usually need to look for a policy that gives you extended accidental damage cover. Some pet insurance policies will also cover accidental damage caused by pets.

What do I need to get a quote?

To get a home insurance quote, you’ll need to provide us with some basic information, including:

  • your current home insurance policy details 
  • details about you and your property 
  • the level of cover you need 
  • any extras you want to add, such as accidental damage insurance

Once we have the details we need, we’ll show you a list of suitable quotes to compare.

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Frequently asked questions

If an item is destroyed, will I get a new one with accidental damage insurance

If you have new for old contents insurance – which is fairly standard these days – then you could be given a like-for-like item, or money or vouchers to replace the item as new. That’s once any policy excess has been deducted.

Read our guide to home insurance excess to find out more.

An exception to the ‘new for old’ rule might be if you’ve damaged items such as your curtains, bedding or clothing. In this situation, it’s possible that your claim could be reduced by a ‘wear and tear’ clause. Check your policy documents carefully to see exactly what you’re covered for.

What about accidental damage insurance and matching sets?

Having matching sets cover means that you’ll get a pay-out for a full set, even if only one item in a set is damaged and can’t be repaired or replaced – one armchair in a three-piece suite, for example.

You might be able to add matching sets cover to your policy if it doesn’t already include it, although this will involve an extra cost.

Do I need accidental damage contents cover if I live in rented accommodation?

If you want extra protection for your own belongings, it might be wise. Although you may not own the carpets and curtains, you’ll want to make sure your possessions are covered in the event of an accident. For that reason, it could be useful to get rental contents insurance and consider taking out accidental damage insurance alongside it. Your landlord is usually responsible for the buildings insurance, so check with them to make sure they have cover in place. 

Do I need accidental damage insurance for my buy-to-let property?

If you own a buy-to-let property, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to take out buildings insurance. If you rent out a furnished property, it’s also advisable to take out adequate contents insurance.

Adding accidental damage cover to your buy-to-let insurance can give you the peace of mind that your property is fully covered, if an accident happens.

Does accidental damage insurance cover damage done by pets?

Many home insurance policies, even those with additional accidental damage, won’t cover damage caused by chewing, fouling, scratching or tearing by pets.

However, there are certain types of pet damage that accidental damage insurance might cover you for. For example, if your over-excited Labrador knocks over an expensive vase.

If you’re concerned about pet damage and are considering accidental damage insurance, read the terms and conditions so you know exactly what types of damage are covered.

Does accidental damage insurance cover damage caused by DIY?

Typically, your policy won’t cover poor workmanship carried out by someone who isn’t a qualified tradesman. In most cases, especially where plumbing and electrics are concerned, it’s best to get professional help.

It’s a good idea to read the conditions of your policy before you take on any heavy-duty DIY tasks. You should also take reasonable precautions against foreseeable accidents, like putting down dust sheets if you’re painting for example. While a ‘bad job’ isn’t usually covered, some DIY accidents might be. For example, if you hammer a nail through a pipe by mistake, you may still be covered.

Does accidental damage insurance cover my belongings when they’re outside my home?

It depends on the circumstances. If you’re moving home and use a professional removal company, you might be covered if any of your contents are damaged in transit.

But if you take items out of the home with you, they won’t usually be covered by an accidental damage policy. In this case, you’ll need personal possessions cover.

Author image Chris King

What our expert says...

“Some premier home insurance packages already include accidental damage cover as standard. It’s worth comparing these with standard policies with accidental damage as an added extra, to see which works out cheaper."

- Chris King, Home insurance expert

Page last reviewed on 30/06/2022
by Helen Phipps