Anyone who has ever had a dog or a cat knows that our four-legged friends, while great companions and lots of fun, can do untold damage to our homes and possessions.
When pets are involved, accidents will definitely happen, both inside and outside the home. But are accidents caused by pets – yours or other people's – covered by the accidental damage section of your home contents insurance policy?
Here we explain what's covered and what's not, and offer some useful tips on avoiding having to make a claim in the first place.
What's covered as standard?
Standard contents policies include some cover for incidences of accidental damage & including to stereo equipment and glass built into furniture & but they don't cover accidental damage to other goods or to furnishings themselves. It may therefore be well worth paying an extra premium for accidental damage cover to be added to your policy.
And even then, the bad news for pet owners is that many home insurance providers will not cover damage caused by chewing, tearing, scratching or fouling by animals.
most insurers will refuse claims for household items damaged by dogs, cats, budgies and even goldfish
Damage caused by pets
In fact, most insurers will refuse claims for household items damaged by dogs, cats, budgies and even goldfish (one survey found that 2% of animal-related home insurance claims involved goldfish – although you suspect it is the bowl that's the main culprit).
Others will only cover damage caused by pets if you take out full accidental damage cover alongside your home contents policy.
Before taking out a policy, it is therefore vital for pet owners to read the small print to see whether one-off accidental damage caused by their animal friends will be covered.
What about other animals?
It is not just the animals you invite into your home that cause damage to the property and its contents.
Unwanted visitors such as insects and vermin can also destroy valuable items. And birds or squirrels falling down the chimney are among the most common problems reported by its home insurance customers.
Once again, the bad news is that damage caused by intruders such as vermin is often excluded from standard home insurance policies. The problems resulting from such invasions may therefore only be covered if you have paid for accidental damage cover on top.
However, you may also be able to claim on your buildings insurance if animals that are not domestic pets cause damage to the structure of your property.
Squirrels gnawing away at your wooden front doorframe, for example, or a bird flying into one of your windows, could result in a successful buildings insurance claim.
If, on the other hand, a fox got into your home and broke a precious vase or ruined your carpet, you could only generally claim under the contents element of your home insurance if you have paid extra for accidental damage cover.
Stopping pets causing damage
The best way to avoid having to make an insurance claim – or pay for repairs yourself – because of damage caused by your pet is to ensure it is well trained.
Cat owners often have a more difficult job on their hands because, let's face it, cats live by their own rules. But steps such as spraying your furniture with animal repellent and ensuring your cat has a scratching post and its own bed can help to prevent it damaging your possessions.
Whether you have a dog or a cat in your home, it is also a good idea to ensure that they are regularly stimulated so they don't get bored, and giving them treats when they are well behaved.
Whether or not you have pets, it's also a good idea to check that the single item limit on your policy is high enough to cover the replacement cost of valuable items such as state-of-the-art computers or works of art – just in case.