Many of us have experienced those heart-in-mouth moments when a glass of red wine tips over on the carpet, a DIY job does more harm than good, or a prized possession is inadvertently dropped and smashed.

Accidents happen, of course. But they may or may not be covered by your home insurance policy. So you might need to add protection that could save you footing the potentially high cost of repairs or replacements if disaster strikes.

What is accidental damage protection?

It provides protection against accidental damage to your building and/or its contents. It is separate to standard insurance perils, which include damage caused by storms, fires, floods, and theft or attempted theft.

Accidental damage covers different things. For example, a commonly declined home insurance claim is for accidental spillage on carpets. That’s because the holders of the policies haven’t bought additional accidental damage insurance that would cover it.

Some home insurance policies have a basic level of accidental damage cover included. You can choose to add extra cover to insure against more accidental scenarios. For example, the Post Office Gold level policy includes this automatically. Please check your policy documents and ask our contact centre team for more information.

If you decide you want accidental damage cover and it’s not included in your main policy, make sure you buy it at the same time as the policy, or when it’s due for renewal, as the additional cover can’t usually be added mid-term. It can, however, be removed at any point in the policy’s lifecycle. The exception with Post Office policies is Gold or Gold+ level cover, which include accidental damage cover automatically.

What constitutes accidental damage?

The definition of ‘accidental damage’ is common across the insurance industry. At Post Office, we use the term to mean damage to your building or contents that’s unexpected and unintentional, caused by something sudden and that isn’t deliberate. It’s damage done by you or someone in your house, including visitors to it.

Examples of accidental damage to a building would include breakages to pipes and drains or drilling through a cable by mistake when doing DIY. Accidental damage to contents might include a cracked glass tabletop or our earlier example of spilling red wine on the carpet.

Some of these issues would be covered by a basic level of accidental damage cover. But for others you’d need extra cover in place. So let’s look at each type of cover and what a basic level of protection would provide first.

Types and levels of accidental damage cover

  • Accidental damage building insurance covers physical structures and permanent fixtures such as windows, doors, bathroom fittings, built-in kitchen fittings such as integrated hob covers, and pipes.
    It provides compensation to repair and replace the following if they’re accidentally damaged:

    • The fabric of cables, underground pipes, drains and tanks serving your home
    • Any fixed panes of glass
    • Built-in ceramic hobs and glass oven doors
    • Solar panels
    • Baths, toilets, bidets, sinks/basins and showers

    You can add this basic level of cover to Post Office Bronze policies. It’s already included in our Silver and Gold policies. And Gold policies will also pay to clear blocked drains.

    This basic cover doesn’t protect you against damage caused if you’re in the loft and accidentally put your foot through the ceiling or drill through a pipe while you’re doing some DIY. You’ll only be covered for that if you have the additional accidental damage buildings insurance in place.

  • Accidental damage contents insurance covers personal belongings within your home, including your furniture, unfitted carpets, decorative items and freestanding appliances in your kitchen or living room. It pays claims for the cost of repairs to or replacement of:
    • Home entertainment equipment (TVs, DVD players, games consoles, desktop computers and audio equipment)
    • Fitted glass in furniture or mirrors (but not in pictures or clocks)
    • Glass shelves, furniture tops and oven doors
    • Ceramic hobs and the tops of free-standing cookers

    Again, this basic cover is included on our Silver and Gold policies and can be added to Bronze. But you’ll need to buy additional accidental damage protection to cover when a spillage or stain blights your carpet, bed or sofa, or if the children knock over and smash a prized possession.

Remember, all insurance policies are different, so it’s important to read the detail on what’s included or not in order to find the cover that’s right for you.

What does additional accidental damage protection cover?

Here are some examples of what the additional extra cover provides insurance for.

Damage caused by children

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you’ll find children at the centre of many a home insurance claim. Take your eye off them for a minute and their moments of creativity, curiosity or clumsiness can create havoc and potentially prove costly.

Fortunately, those little ‘accidents’ – from breakages to impromptu works of art on your wallpaper – can be covered when you by extra accidental damage protection.

DIY disasters

It’s not just the kids who are responsible for accidental damage claims, of course. From nails hammered home in the wrong places to dropped paint pots and sawn-through water pipes, those well-meaning moments of DIY determination can soon turn sour.

DIY damage is often covered by accidental damage policy add-ons but ongoing renovation work usually isn’t. So check the wording to be sure.

What isn’t covered by any accidental damage cover?

While it’s good to know what’s covered, it’s just as important to know what usually isn’t.

Damage caused by animals

There’s no substitute for a well-trained pet. That’s true in insurance terms, too, as accidental damage policies – including from Post Office – don’t cover damage to your building or contents caused by pets chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling.

They also don’t protect against damage caused by wild animals, insects, parasites and birds. Though this may be covered if you have Home Emergency cover on your regular home insurance policy.

Gadgets and other high-risk items

Mobile and smart phones, tablets and laptop computers are regularly taken out of the home so aren’t covered by regular home insurance or accidental damage cover. You can often add ‘away from home’ cover for such high-risk personal possessions to your home policy, though. Or buy separate gadget cover such as this to protect them to the level you need.

It’s important to know that accidental damage cover won’t pay out for:  

  • Accidents that happen while your property’s unoccupied 

  • Deliberate destruction of property or vandalism of belongings  

  • General wear and tear or deterioration over time 

  • Cosmetic damage, like scratches and dents 

  • Poor design or workmanship  

  • Damage from construction, alteration or repair 

  • Damage caused by mechanical or electric faults or breakdowns 

And damage caused by or to the following isn’t usually covered: 

  • Your power supply being cut off by your energy company 

  • Documents like passports and driving licences, money, or food and drink 

  • Clothes or sports equipment when it’s being used  

  • Teeth or false teeth that happens while chewing something!