We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.


When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

8 Mar 2021

5 unfortunate events your home insurance might not cover

What to look out for when buying a policy
dog next to ripped up sofa

You can always rely on home insurance to be there when things go wrong. Except when you can't.

From unruly dogs to stolen lawnmowers, there are times your home insurance policy might be less useful than you'd hope.

Many policies won't pay out for certain types of damage or loss, but if you haven't read the small print, you won't know until it's too late.

Luckily, we've gone through all the small print of 59 contents and 59 buildings policies, to save you the trouble.

Here, we look at five things you might not be able to claim for on your home insurance without switching to a more comprehensive policy.

Be more money savvy

Get a firmer grip on your finances with the expert tips in our Money newsletter – it's free weekly.

This newsletter delivers free money-related content, along with other information about Which? Group products and services. Unsubscribe whenever you want. Your data will be processed in accordance with our Privacy policy

1. Domestic pet damage

Torn up carpets and sofas will be familiar sights for many dog and cat owners. But home insurance doesn't always cover replacing them.

When we analysed 59 contents insurance policies, only one in seven (14%) covered pet damage as standard. Eight in 10 (78%) didn't cover it at all and one in 10 (8%) offered it as an optional extra.

2. Accidental damage

With everyone spending a lot more time at home at the moment, we could be more likely to accidentally break glasses, chairs or - God forbid - TV remotes. We may even have caused damage to parts of the house itself, like walls or flooring, by accident.

But home insurance cover for breaking parts of your house - or the things in it - is sometimes optional. Without it, you'll have to pay the full costs of repairing or replacing whatever you break.

When it comes to buildings insurance policies, only three in 10 (29%) included full accidental damage cover as standard, and the same number offered it at an extra cost. The majority of buildings insurance policies, though, provided some accidental damage cover as standard, with full cover available as an extra.

As for damage to contents in your home, just two in 10 covered it as standard, while four in 10 (42%) offered it as an extra and a quarter provided partial cover with more available at an additional cost.

3. Matching sets

Breaking or losing one piece of a matching set of crockery can be infuriating. Luckily, some insurers will find a matching replacement for the damaged individual item, or even replace the whole set. This way you won't end up with mismatched plates, for example.

But before you lodge a claim for that cracked china bowl, you'll need to check your policy. Because less than half (47%) of the 59 policies we analysed included matching sets cover.

4. Garden cover

Plants, toys and garden furniture are not cheap, so it's important to make sure your home insurance policy covers your backyard. Especially if you have a big ticket item like a trampoline or hot tub out there.

Thankfully, most home insurance policies do cover the items in your garden, but one in five of the policies we analysed either didn't, or only had garden cover as an optional extra. So there is still a chance your prized petunias could be at risk.

5. Theft from outbuildings

The combined cost of your shed's contents adds up quickly: lawnmowers, bikes, furniture.

The majority of home insurance policies we analysed do cover items stolen from your shed, but for one in 10 policies they were either not covered or only covered as an add-on.

Read Which?'s home insurance reviews

Our in-depth reviews reveal what is and isn't covered by different major insurers - including all of the above scenarios.

We also have customer scores based on a survey of customers who've recently claimed.

Read our guide to the best and worst home insurance to find out more.