Does home insurance cover wear and tear?

If you’ve bought home insurance you’ve probably come across the phrase ‘wear and tear’. So, what is it and how does it affect your policy? Let’s take a look.

If you’ve bought home insurance you’ve probably come across the phrase ‘wear and tear’. So, what is it and how does it affect your policy? Let’s take a look.

Helen Phipps
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Last Updated 16 NOVEMBER 2022

What is wear and tear?

Wear and tear is a phrase used by insurance providers to describe objects wearing out over time, rather than being damaged unexpectedly. For example, sofa upholstery that gradually develops holes or brickwork that’s damaged by weathering. Poor upkeep could contribute to wear and tear, as well as it happening naturally.

Do home insurance policies cover wear and tear?

Not usually, no. Home insurance is designed to pay out for damage caused by a sudden or unexpected event such as a flood or fire. It doesn’t cover items wearing out, breaking or failing because you haven’t maintained them properly or they’ve naturally degraded over time.

Check the exclusions on your policy – you’ll probably find wear and tear is listed there.

How can wear and tear affect my home insurance?

A claim will be rejected if your insurance provider considers that damage has been caused by wear and tear.

And even if the damage was caused by something covered by your home insurance, your payout might be reduced if what you’re claiming for was already damaged by wear and tear.

What is wear and tear cover?

If your home insurance policy includes wear and tear cover, also known as indemnity cover, it will pay out the value of an item at the time it was damaged, lost or stolen. Most objects depreciate in value over time so this means your payout will be less than you paid for the item.

The alternative to indemnity cover is new for old cover. This could cover the cost of buying brand-new items even if the ones damaged, lost or stolen were old. So, for example, if your five-year-old TV was ruined by a water leak, your payout would cover a brand-new equivalent.  Not surprisingly, new for old policies are likely to be more expensive than indemnity policies.

What should I do if I think my provider has rejected my claim unfairly?

The first thing to do is to contact your insurance provider and, if necessary, go through their complaints procedure. If you’re still not satisfied, you could contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Find out more on what to do if your claim is rejected.

How to avoid wear and tear

Keeping your home well-maintained could reduce the risk of damage from wear and tear. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your gutters clear of debris to avoid water damage
  • Check your roof regularly and replace any loose tiles
  • Turn off the water supply if you go away to reduce the risk of flooding
  • Switch off outdoor taps in the winter to prevent freezing
  • Check your walls regularly and fill in any creaks that could let water seep through
  • Investigate any signs of damp or mould to find and fix the cause
  • Investigate all water leaks to find the cause
  • Check your windows and replace any rotting frames or flaking paint
  • Get your boiler serviced regularly.
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