Things home insurance will cover – and things it won’t

Can you claim for storm damage to your roof on your home insurance? What happens to your home insurance if you go away for six months? Find out what buildings and contents insurance does and doesn’t include.

Can you claim for storm damage to your roof on your home insurance? What happens to your home insurance if you go away for six months? Find out what buildings and contents insurance does and doesn’t include.

Chris King
Head of Home Insurance
3
minute read
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Posted 11 OCTOBER 2019 Last Updated 21 JANUARY 2022

What does home insurance cover?

Not all buildings and contents insurance policies are the same, so you always need to check the details to see what yours includes. But there are some things that policies generally will and won’t cover. Most standard home insurance policies will cover damage to your home caused by:

  • Flooding 
  • Subsidence
  • Fire
  • Storms 
  • Burst water pipes, frozen pipes, water damage
  • Theft

However, you’re unlikely to be covered for damage caused by:

  • General wear and tear
  • Poor maintenance
  • Mechanical breakdown of old appliances
  • Frost damage
  • Storm damage to gates and fences
  • Deliberate damage
  • Damage caused by pets

Here are some examples of what is and what isn’t usually covered by a standard home insurance policy, and when you might need to add extra cover.

What’s typically covered by home insurance?

Your house catching fire

Cover for fire comes as standard with buildings and contents insurance. If you have both, you should be covered for damage to the structure of your home and your belongings inside it.

Stolen smartphone

Cover for theft comes as standard with contents insurance, so you should be covered if your smartphone is stolen from your home. 

But to protect your phone while you’re out and about, you’ll need cover for personal possessions outside the home, which isn’t always included as standard. Check with your insurance provider – if you’re not covered, you might be able to add this to your policy for an additional cost.

Your engagement ring is stolen

Contents insurance covers theft from your home, but if you want cover for your engagement ring while you’re out, you’ll need cover for personal possessions outside the home

If your engagement ring is worth more than the single item limit on your contents insurance (the maximum amount your provider will pay out for a single item), then you’ll need to ask your provider to list it separately on your policy.

Storm damage

You’ll almost certainly have cover for storm damage  included in your buildings and contents insurance. This can protect you from financial losses caused by a storm, such as tiles being blown from your roof. It’s unlikely to cover storm damage to fences, hedges and gates. 

Stolen car keys – potentially covered by car insurance

Keys are sometimes covered by car insurance, rather than home insurance, even if they’re stolen from your house. Replacing modern computerised keys can be very expensive, so check both your car and home insurance to make sure you’re covered for theft, wherever your keys are taken from.

What’s not typically covered by standard home insurance?

The springs on your sofa going

Home insurance doesn’t cover things naturally deteriorating or breaking because you haven’t looked after them. This is known in the insurance world as ‘wear and tear’. You might also find your home insurance cover is invalidated if damage to your home is caused by wear and tear. For example, if there’s a leak because you haven’t replaced broken roof tiles.

Your home if you’re away for six months

Generally, insurance policies will state that you need to tell your provider if you’re going away for more than 30 days. An empty house is considered a higher risk than an occupied one, so your provider may choose to limit the cover they provide while you’re away for a long period, or you may need to take out specialist unoccupied home insurance

Speak to your insurance provider if you intend to be away for longer than 30 days – they may be able to add endorsements to your policy to ensure your property is fully covered.

Asbestos removal

Removal of asbestos is unlikely to be covered by your home insurance. But if asbestos within your home is damaged by something you’re insured for – a storm, for example – you may be covered for its repair or removal.

Spilling tea on your laptop

While not typically covered by standard home insurance, this type of incident could be covered by accidental damage insurance. This can be added to your home contents insurance for an additional fee.

Pest infestations

Pests, such as rats and mice, can damage your property as well as being a health hazard. Most home insurance policies don’t cover damage by pests. But you could get a pay-out for their removal if you have home emergency cover - optional insurance you can add to your policy for an additional cost. 

Top tip

While add-ons like accidental damage insurance can give you more protection, make sure you really need them, as they can significantly push up the price of your premium. It’s worth comparing standard policies with add-ons against premium cover packages to see which offers the better value

Frequently asked questions

Will my home insurance cover damage by pets?

Unfortunately, damage caused by pets is unlikely to be covered by your standard home insurance. Most policies specifically exclude damage caused by chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling

You’ll need to tell your home insurance provider if you have a pet. If you don’t, it could invalidate your policy.  

Will my home insurance cover losses or damage caused by a power cut?

It depends on your policy. You might be covered for the knock-on effects of a power cut. For example, if there’s no power for a while and the food in your freezer goes off, your contents insurance may cover you up to a certain limit.

Will my home insurance cover me if I work from home?

If you run a home-based business, you should tell your insurance provider that you work from home.  However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has said it doesn’t anticipate that insurance claims will be rejected due to a change in someone’s circumstances forced on them by social distancing measures.

Standard home contents insurance doesn’t usually cover work equipment like computers, tools and stock. You may need to adjust your home insurance policy or take out separate business contents insurance to ensure your business items are properly covered. 

How do I know what’s covered and what’s not before I buy a policy?

When you compare with us, we’ll show you a list of suitable quotes including key features of each deal. You’ll also be able to read the terms and conditions of each policy, so you’ll know exactly what’s covered and what’s excluded before you go ahead and choose.

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