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Mythbusting: What’s actually covered by your home insurance policy?

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding home insurance. Does it cover your iPhone? What about pet damage? And is it true that you won’t be covered for an ‘act of God’? We take a look at the myths versus reality.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding home insurance. Does it cover your iPhone? What about pet damage? And is it true that you won’t be covered for an ‘act of God’? We take a look at the myths versus reality.

Written by
Helen Phipps
Insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
5 JANUARY 2024
5 min read
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Home insurance myths debunked

When you consider that buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, it makes sense to protect it as much as possible. But do you really know what home insurance covers – and what it doesn’t? Here are some of the most common home insurance misconceptions that it’s useful to be aware of, so you’re not caught out if you want to make a claim.

Myth 1: I won’t be covered if I lose my keys

Replacing a lost or stolen set of keys can be a shockingly expensive business, especially if you have to get an emergency locksmith out at 2am to change all the locks. You could be looking at a hefty bill. Thankfully ‘replacement locks and keys’ is usually covered under your home insurance – we’ll show you whether a policy covers this when you view your quotes.

Myth 2: I won’t be covered if someone steals cash from my home 

The honest answer for this one is maybe. Some insurance providers will cover money stolen from your home up to a certain limit – but there’s often a few conditions that need to be met. Mainly, you’ll find there have to be signs of a break-in for theft to be covered, so if you’ve left your keys in the front door or invited someone in who swipes your cash, you might not be so lucky.

Myth 3: Insurance providers won’t cover you for an ‘act of God’

Lots of people will tell you that your insurance won’t cover you for an ‘act of God’ – in other words, something that’s outside human control, such as a natural disaster. But the truth is most policies cover this. In reality, the term ‘act of God’ is never used in insurance policies because they tend to be a lot more specific about what they cover these days.

Myth 4: I won’t be covered if my freezer defrosts and spoils all the food

Loss of freezer food is quite often covered under home contents insurance if there’s a power failure or fault with the freezer that ruins the food. But there’s usually a limit on the maximum amount you can claim and you may need to provide proof of what you’ve lost, so check what evidence you need before you throw away the spoiled food. You won’t be covered if someone in your household has accidentally switched off the power supply, and contents insurance doesn’t usually extend to cover food in your fridge.

Myth 5: If my kitten destroys my curtains, my home insurance will pick up the tab

If you’re a pet owner, you’ll be well aware just how badly behaved your animals can be at times. They can damage furniture and cause all sorts of breakages – however innocent they might appear. So, you’ll be disappointed to learn that most home contents insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by pets chewing, tearing, scratching or fouling. They’re also unlikely to provide cover for damage caused by insects and vermin.

Myth 6: My bike is covered when I’m out and about

Cycling has soared in popularity during the pandemic, but unfortunately your home insurance policy won’t usually cover your bike when it’s outside the home. It’s a good idea to insure your bicycle against theft, but you’ll have to pay extra to cover it, possibly by adding your bike individually to your policy or by adding personal possessions cover.

Myth 7: My engagement ring is covered if I lose it at the gym

You’ll need to make sure something valuable like an engagement ring is fully insured when you’re out of the house. That will probably mean paying for extra cover for personal possessions outside the home. Note that most policies have a single item limit, which is the most they’ll pay out for one item before it has to be added individually to the policy. This amount can vary among insurance providers.

At Compare the Market, we ask you to add any individual high-risk items worth more than £1,500 to your quote. We’ll also ask if you want to insure that item to be taken outside your home or not.

Myth 8: I can claim the cost of replacing my shabby-looking kitchen units on my insurance

Unfortunately, your home insurance won’t cover you for general wear and tear or maintenance. The same goes for broken mechanical and electrical products, or faulty workmanship. Home insurance is designed to protect your home from big events like floods, fires and storms, not from lack of maintenance. So, it’s essential to take good care of your home as much as possible.

Myth 9: My mobile phone is covered by my contents insurance if I lose it while I’m away from home

Your mobile is only likely to be covered inside your home as standard, but you might be able to extend your home insurance policy to cover items you take out of the house, such as phones, laptops and tablets. Consider adding personal possessions cover for anything you want to insure outside the home. You can also take out a specific policy to cover just your mobile phone, but it’s usually more cost-effective to add the right cover to your home insurance policy. Find out more about gadget insurance.

Myth 10: I live in a flood risk area so I’m going to struggle to get home insurance

This should no longer be the case, thanks to the government’s Flood Re scheme. It’s aimed at helping people who live in areas at high risk of flooding to get cover and save money. Find out how Flood Re works.

Myth 11: I’ll be covered if I accidentally put my foot through the ceiling while doing DIY

You might assume you can claim for any damage caused to your home, but that isn’t necessarily the case. It depends how the damage happened. Most home insurance policies won’t cover accidents and mishaps as standard. For this you’ll need accidental damage cover. You’ll usually be given the option of adding this type of cover to your home insurance by paying a little extra. It might be worthwhile if you have kids or you’re a little on the clumsy side.

Myth 12: I’ll be covered if my home is burgled while I’m in Spain for the winter

Homes that are left unoccupied are deemed more at risk of break-ins by insurance providers than houses with people living in them. This means most standard home insurance policies won’t cover you if you leave your property empty for more than 30 days at a time. So if you spend three months of the year holidaying abroad, or you’re working overseas for an extended period, you’ll need unoccupied home insurance. This will cost you extra, but will offer cover if anything goes wrong while you’re away.

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