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Does your home and contents insurance policy cover accidental damage?

Peter Terlato avatar
Peter Terlato
- 6 min read
Does your home and contents insurance policy cover accidental damage?

It goes without saying that the items in your home are precious to you, so it’s understandable that you would want them protected, including from accidental damage. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider ensuring your home and contents insurance policy covers any unintentional harm to your household items.

Such accidental damage may be caused by a range of incidents, including vandalism, rainwater, lightning, earthquakes, storms, fires, and theft. Keep in mind, however, that when you file an accidental damage claim, your insurance provider may send a claims adjuster to confirm that the damage wasn’t simply a result of regular wear and tear, which could indicate poor maintenance or negligence on your part. 

For instance, if the damage is caused by leakage or seepage that seems to have built up over time, you may not be able to claim a settlement for accidental damage.

Even if the accidental damage appears to be similar in nature, coverage can vary based on the incident that caused it. For example, damage from a stormwater pipe bursting may be covered as accidental damage in your home and contents insurance policy, while damage from a flood may not be covered. Similarly, if an electronic item is damaged, you may only receive compensation for incidents that affect its performance.

Consider comparing home and contents insurance policy quotes online to get a sense of the coverage offered for accidental damage as well as the limits of such coverage. Some insurers may only cover accidental damage as a policy add-on, which means you'll need to pay a higher premium for it. Reading an insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) can help you understand your level of coverage for incidents causing accidental damage and help determine if you need to buy additional coverage for specific incidents or for some of your high-value items.

For example, if you’ve dropped and broken your laptop this may only be covered if you have added specific accidental damage cover to your policy, and even then there may be exceptions.

As mentioned above, even if your home and contents insurance policy covers accidental damage, an insurer may require verification to be carried out by a claims adjuster. A claims adjuster examines insurance claims to assess the scope of responsibility for coverage.

This process may involve a claims adjuster examining each case through interactions with the person making the claim and potentially conducting on-site inspections of any relevant damage.

What’s not covered under accidental damage?

Accidental damage insurance doesn’t cover all incidents. Some exclusions may include but are not limited to:

  • Damage you’ve caused deliberately;
  • Damage caused by general wear and tear;
  • Damage as a result of home renovations;
  • Damage caused by tenants; and
  • Damage caused by pests.

Each policy is different and it’s important to check the individual Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for details.

Should you buy additional accidental damage cover if you have a home insurance policy?

It may be more beneficial to buy a home and contents insurance policy rather than just a home insurance policy, as this could provide cover for your belongings in addition to your house, including coverage for incidents likely to cause accidental damage. Consider checking what type of incidents the policy covers, as well as any limits, to ensure that the most damaging events are adequately covered.

For example, you may need to buy additional coverage for high-end mobile phones, or you may need fusion damage cover to replace motor wiring. While you might not be able to replace your possessions entirely, you may at least get compensation for their value. 

If your insurer only offers accidental damage cover as an add-on, you may be able to choose coverage for specific items that are most precious to you and are likely to get damaged easily.

For instance, you may have an easily breakable heirloom or collectible which you’d like to have insured. You might also consider buying accidental damage coverage if you live in a neighbourhood prone to theft, vandalism, or civil commotions. You can get an idea of the cost of adding on accidental damage coverage by comparing a range of home and content insurance policies.

Does accidental damage insurance cover my possessions if you take them outside the house?

While accidental damage insurance covers your belongings within the confines of your home, you can enhance your policy's protection by opting for the additional benefit of personal effects cover. This supplemental coverage extends beyond the walls of your home to safeguard the valuables that you regularly take outside.

Does accidental damage insurance cover moving house?

Purchasing a home and contents insurance policy, especially one with added accidental damage coverage, may help you recover the cost of any damaged goods while in either of your homes. But such a policy may not cover what is likely the riskiest part, the transit. Adding personal effects coverage to your home and contents insurance policy may offer some coverage, but you should check with your insurer if you need to buy extra coverage.

You also need to keep in mind that your belongings may be exposed to several types of damage during the moving process. While accidental breakage is often the biggest concern, incidents such as a theft from the moving truck or an accident for which the truck’s driver is at fault are also possible. 

Consider asking your insurance provider about the coverage they offer for such damage. If your insurer doesn’t cover it, you may need to purchase specialised moving insurance. In such a case, consider asking the removalist if they can offer coverage for your possessions.

Is buying accidental damage coverage for home insurance really worth it?

Even if you own only a few high-value items, you can’t say for sure that they won’t ever be damaged. Undertaking repairs for damaged items can prove quite expensive and may not restore the object’s value, meaning that you could end up bearing the cost and the stress.

Ensuring your home and contents insurance policy covers accidental damage could help you, both with covering the expense as well as reducing any related stress. You can choose accidental damage coverage limits based on how much you are willing to pay for the coverage.

It’s important to remember that you’ll need to pay an excess before you can claim any accidental damage.

There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you get the most out of your home and contents policy’s accidental damage cover: 

  • Consider listing the high-value items in your home, including the cost of replacing them, and then compare this list with what different insurance providers are offering.
  • You can easily compare home and contents insurance policy quotes online, but also consider reading the insurance providers’ PDS to obtain full policy details.
  • Once you find a policy that offers the type of coverage you’re after, you can attempt to negotiate with that insurer to include any missing items or to increase your coverage limits.

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Product database updated 22 Jun, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Alex Ritchie before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.