As all parents know, children can cause havoc in the home. And even when they're not actually causing havoc, they can still cause damage.
Whether it's as a result of overly boisterous games ending in tears, or colourful, artistic tendencies missing the page and ending up on the carpet, your property and possessions are often on the receiving end of their little mishaps.
Of course, accidents will happen - and the school holidays are a prime time for the youngsters in your life to accidentally damage your home. The question is: are accidents caused by children - yours or other people's - covered by the accidental damage section of your home contents policy?
Here, we explain what's covered and what's not and offer useful tips on avoiding having to make a claim in the first place.
Accidental damage explained
Standard contents policies include an element of cover for accidental damage - including stereo equipment and glass-in furniture - but they don't cover accidental damage to other goods or actual furnishings.
So, if you have young children, or often have children visiting your home, it may be worth paying an extra premium for accidental damage cover to be added to your policy.
You can then relax in the knowledge that you will be protected in the event of “damage that occurs suddenly as a result of an unexpected and non-deliberate external action”.
This means that if your children knock your computer off the table, for example, you will be able to make a claim.
Just remember that general wear and tear will not be covered, so you can't make a claim to replace a sofa that has seen better days, or an old stereo that has stopped working.
And check that the single item limit on your policy is high enough to cover the replacement cost of valuable items such as flat-screen televisions and state-of-the-art stereos.
Accidental damage claims caused by children
The age of the person who caused the accidental damage to your home or its contents should not really affect your claim..
Whether it's grandpa spilling a pot of coffee or little Johnny scribbling on an inappropriate surface, as long as it is an unintentional one-off incident, the treatment of your accidental damage claim will depend on the cover you have in place..
As mentioned above, incidents involving home entertainment equipment, for example, are often covered under standard contents insurance policies - although it's always a good idea to examine the small print to be sure..
But paying more to add accidental damage cover to your policy will mean that most other items in your home are protected too, although with some exceptions..
Common home insurance policy exclusions include portable electrical equipment, and clothing. It is therefore sensible to keep your laptop out of reach of sticky little fingers and to hang your designer coat out of harm's way..
How to avoid making accidental damage claims
Many of the little accidents children have involve modern gadgets such as mobile phones and tablet computers. And the bad news is that items of this kind are often not covered by home contents insurance policies (although they may be protected against theft and loss outside the home if you take out personal possessions cover)..
Just remember that general wear and tear will not be covered, so you can't make a claim to replace a sofa that has seen better days
Rather than letting your little ones play with your iPad, it may therefore prove sensible to buy them children's version, such as the LeapFrog educational tablet..
Other obvious steps include keeping valuables and breakable items out of reach as much as possible, and doing your best to keep ball games away from any fragile windows..
However, keeping the kids entertained is the best way to prevent them getting into mischief while your back is turned. Easy and safe ways to keep them out of trouble while you get on with the chores include asking them to write you a story, using the internet to teach them origami and investing in some good old-fashioned board games.