Home insurance policies cover costs if your home is damaged because of perils like a fire, flood, storm, or subsidence and protects the homeowner from financial loss.
For a nominal increase to your premium, there are a range of optional covers you can include to protect against financial loss for things that are not covered by your core buildings or contents policy. Some extra covers can be optional under your home insurance policy and be offered at an additional cost, so it’s up to you whether to include it them when you buy your policy. Other extras can be separate insurance products that can be bought alongside your home cover to provide extra protection.
We look at some of the most popular add-ons so that you can decide what cover is right for you.
- Accidental damage cover
- Family legal protection
- Home emergency cover
- Key care and home key cover
- Excess protection cover
Accidental damage cover is one of the most popular optional additional covers available and is available as an optional cover within a home insurance policy.
What is accidental damage cover?
Accidental damage insurance covers accidental damage caused by sudden and unforeseen events to both the buildings and contents up to the agreed sum insured, which will be clearly set out in your policy.
Things covered by an accidental damage policy could include:
- DIY mishaps such as hitting a nail through a water pipe;
- damage to curtains, carpets, and walls caused by spillages;
- unintentional breakages, for example if your laptop was knocked off a table.
What isn’t covered by accidental damage insurance?
Policies will vary so you should check the conditions set by your insurer, but typical exclusions often include:
- damage caused by pets;
- damage that occurs if your home is unoccupied for more than 31consecutive days;
- loss or damage that happens while your home is being renovated;
- loss or damage because of an electrical fault.
Is accidental damage cover worth it?
Accidental damage insurance covers a broad range of events so it can be a useful feature, especially if you have small children (or are particularly accident prone).
Remember that you’ll need to pay an excess if you make a claim. A claim is also likely to affect the cost of future home insurance premiums so it’s wise to think carefully before making lots of low value claims. You will also need to weigh up the cost of the premium and any excess you’d have to pay for a claim, against the cost of covering the cost of a claim yourself.
Despite its name, family legal protection isn’t just for families. Also called legal expenses cover or just legal cover, it’s a standalone policy that can be purchased to complement your home insurance.
What is family legal protection?
Policies provide legal advice for any legal issues you, or anyone in your family living and residing in the insured property, may have. Policies will also cover the cost of legal assistance, up to an agreed amount, if you want to claim for:
- Compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence
- Employment or other contract (including home sale) disputes
- Defence in cases of criminal prosecution
- Tax disputes
- Compensation for time off work for jury service
- Probate disputes
- Travel disputes because of a breach of contract
- Disputes with local education authorities if they don’t comply with admission policies
- Identity theft
- Social media defamation
The types of disputes covered can vary between the different types of policies available.
What isn’t covered by family legal protection?
Exclusions will vary depending on the nature of the issue you’re claiming for. For example, to make a claim for social media defamation, you must be at least 18 years old, and compensation for jury service will be limited to a certain number of days.
With that in mind, it’s sensible to familiarise yourself with the different terms and conditions before agreeing to a policy.
You should also be aware that if you want to pursue a legal dispute which is covered by your policy, you’ll need to speak to your insurer before taking any action, especially if the claim involves court proceedings. Most insurers will only proceed with a claim if there is at least a 51% chance of the claim being successful, and they will often want to appoint their own solicitors. Beginning legal proceedings yourself before your insurer has agreed to the claim could result in your insurer refusing to pay out.
Is family legal protection worth it?
The cost of legal advice and representation can spiral into the thousands of pounds, so legal expenses cover can be excellent value for money. To decide whether it is worthwhile for you, you’ll need to evaluate the likelihood that you’ll make a claim, or a claim being bought against you that you will need to defend, and whether you have the means to fund this yourself.
Home emergency cover isn’t the same as accidental damage cover even though it might seem like some events cross over.
The main difference is that a home emergency claim covers events that cause (or have the potential) to cause either more serious damage or endanger the property and the people who live in it.
What does home emergency cover include?
Home emergencies cover a range of events which include:
- Burst water pipes
- Boiler shut down
- Heating system failure
- Electrical or gas supply failure
- Pest infestation
Some policies also include alternative accommodation if you can’t stay in your home because of an insured emergency.
What isn’t included in home emergency cover?
Insurers are unlikely to pay a claim if it’s for something that’s happened as a result of poor maintenance. All insurance policies include a duty for the homeowner to mitigate loss, which includes routine maintenance and keeping the property in a good state of repair. For example, water damage that has occurred over time because gutters have not been cleared will not be covered under the policy. Most policies will also have terms for cover of your boiler, such as yearly servicing.
Policies also don’t cover general repairs or wear and tear, or lost or stolen keys.
Is home emergency cover worth it?
Emergencies can happen at any time but having appropriate cover can help you resolve the issue quickly which can stop it from escalating and becoming an even bigger problem.
Not only that, home emergency cover can represent great value for money. Particularly, when you consider the range of events that policies cover and the speed at which they can be resolved.
Policies cover the cost of replacing lost, stolen, or accidently damaged keys. Policies can also cover car hire if you can’t use your car because of stolen, damaged, or misplaced keys. Onward travel can be covered too if losing your keys has left you stranded.
If your keys have been stolen, you’ll need to report the theft to police and have a valid crime reference number.
What isn’t covered by home key cover?
Terms and conditions will vary by policy but generally, your insurer is unlike to accept a claim if they felt you had failed to take reasonable care to look after your keys. If, for example, you left your keys in your unlocked car when it was unattended, and they were stolen.
Policies won’t cover keys that you look after but belong to someone else (like a neighbour or family member).
Is home key cover insurance worth it?
If you have a habit of misplacing keys, it might be a policy worth considering. There is generally no excess to pay unlike when making a claim under a car or home insurance policy. But so long as you keep a spare set of house and car keys, you may be better off looking at other optional insurance extras that cover a broader range of events.
For example, if you make a £1000 home insurance claim for storm damage and your excess is £300, your insurer will pay out £700. With excess protection cover, you’d also get back your £300.
How does excess protection work?
To make a successful claim, you must have a valid home insurance policy and the person making the claim must be a named policyholder.
If you make a home insurance claim, it’s likely that you’ll still need to pay the excess in the first instance and then claim it back under your excess protection policy. The specific process you need to follow may be different depending on your insurer.
Is excess protection worth it?
The cost of an excess protection policy will typically be proportional to the excess limit you select, but will be a fraction of the excess you’d have to pay in the event of a claim. In fact, policies can start from as little as £20 per year, which can make them excellent value.
However, your premium will depend on the level of cover you choose. To work out if it’s right for you, weigh up the cost of buying excess protection compared to the cost of paying the excess amount should you have to make a claim. The claim amount will always have to be more than the excess amount for an excess protection claim to be valid.
Speak to an expert for help and advice
At Alan Boswell Group, our experts can help you choose home insurance that best protects your most valued assets. For advice and to see how we can help you, contact a member of the team on 01603 649650 or using our enquiry form.