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 things like stereo equipment and glass in furniture - but they likely won't cover accidental damage to other goods or actual furnishings.
So, if you have young children it may be worth paying an extra premium for accidental damage cover to be added to your policy. That way you can protect the things that would be costly to replace.
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.
Should I worry about it if I don’t have kids?
If you have children visiting often, you may feel accidental damage is more likely to occur, so you might want to protect what you have against these type of accidents. The extra cover will include damage done by someone else’s children; it covers accidental damage caused by anyone who enters your home.
Be aware of the single item limit
Your accidental damage cover will have a single item limit, meaning there is an upper limit for the amount you can claim per item. If you have something that is particularly expensive (like a state-of-the-art TV or computer), make sure it’s insured and if it isn’t, you might want to get extra cover.
What isn’t covered?
The most important thing to remember is that general wear and tear won’t be covered under any policy, so you can’t claim for a sofa that has seen better days.
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).
Common home insurance policy exclusions also include clothing. So our best advice is to keep your laptop and tablet out of reach of sticky little fingers and hang your designer coat out of harm's way.
Does the age of the child matter?
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 make sure.
How to avoid making accidental damage claims
Making a claim on any kind of insurance usually results in higher premiums when it’s time to renew your policy. Even if you shop around to compare home insurance instead of auto-renewing, you’ll likely see more expensive quotes once you’ve made a claim.
The obvious ways to avoid making accidental damage claims include keeping valuables and breakable items out of reach or in another room, and doing your best to keep ball games away from any fragile windows.
As items such as iPads aren’t generally included under standard policies, it’s probably a good idea to keep these things out of harm’s way. Another option is to get a child friendly tablet such as the Amazon Fire 7 or a LeapPad.
However, keeping the kids entertained is the best way to prevent them getting into mischief while your back is turned. Try easy and safe ways to keep them out of trouble, like a story-writing competition, a lego building challenge, baking, playing games in the garden or some good old-fashioned board games.
Making a claim
When something that is included in your cover gets damaged, you will need to make a claim. Find out how to make a successful claim on your home insurance.