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11 Mar 2022

Revealed: the disasters your home insurance policy might not cover

Insurers offer patchy protection for accidents and storm damage

Home insurance offers protection if your property or belongings get damaged, but it's important to ensure your policy won't leave you high and dry should you need to make a claim.

We analysed 58 home insurance policies from 29 insurers, and found that the breadth of coverage on offer varied significantly, especially when it came to accidental damage and damage caused by storms.

You can find the best and worst home insurance policies here - or read on to find out about the rarest features of home insurance policies and how to find the best deal.

Insurers offer patchy accidental damage cover

Accidental damage cover pays for repairs or replacements if you inadvertently damage your home or something within it.

Almost all policies we analysed included some form of accidental damage cover, but many had notable omissions and limitations, and just a third provided general accidental damage cover as standard.

Just one in five policies (21%) included coverage for damage caused while cleaning, so if you crack your best china while washing up, you probably won't be able to claim.

The person that caused the damage also influences the likelihood of a successful claim. Damage caused by pets was included in 33% of policies, but damage caused by tenants or lodgers only featured in 26% of plans.

Finally, water damage could be a costly ommission from your policy - damage caused by an overflowing bath or sink was missing from 21% of plans.

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Not all insurers offer full protection against storm damage

With the UK having already been battered by five storms this year, protection against bad weather has become even more important than before.

In principle, all policies covered homes against storms and floods, but the level of coverage varied between providers.

Build up of groundwater (where water accumulates underground after prolonged rainfall) was a notable absence, included in just 17% of policies.

Home emergency cover (which provides rapid provisional repairs to keep your home habitable) was also patchy, with 27% of policies failing to cover storm damage to your roof.

The five rarest elements of home insurance policies

Our wider analysis, which compared some 85 aspects of home insurance coverage, revealed a host of other features that only a minority of policies include.

The scarcest was storm damage to fences, gates and hedges - which only one policy in our analysis covered.

The table below shows the elements of cover least likely to feature in home insurance policies:

RankArea of coveragePercentage of policies that provide cover
1Storm damage to fences, gates and hedges2%
2Lost car keys7%
3Car keys stolen from house7%
4Legal expenses cover (related to planning disputes)7%
5No-claims discount protection14%

Which? home insurance reviews

Before buying home insurance, it's important to carefully check the policy documents to ensure you're purchasing the cover you expect.

We're here to help you find an insurer that offers the right policy for you. For our annual home insurance reviews, we've compared 58 areas of policies from 29 providers to help you find the best deal.

We've also got insurer ratings from customers who've recently made a claim.

Our full reviews are available to Which? members. If you're not already a member, join Which? to get full access to these results and all of our reviews.

Get a cheap deal on your home insurance

Shopping around for the best deal could potentially save you a significant amount on your renewal, even in light of recent changes designed to make pricing fairer.

In January, the 'loyalty penalty' was scrapped, meaning insurers can no longer quote existing customers a higher price than they would an equivalent new customer.

Despite this, prices are on the rise. Research by Consumer Intelligence found that the average annual premium is currently £154, having increased by 3% year-on-year. Over 50's saw premiums rise by nearly 6%, to an average of £161.

Your insurer is still allowed to offer you a discount if you haggle, or if you use a different channel (eg online rather than over the phone).

If your policy is coming up for renewal, our guide on finding cheap home insurance offers all the advice you'll need to get a great deal.

Our partner Confused.com compares prices from more than 50 insurers to help you choose the right one. Get a quote now.

The full version of this article appeared in the April 2022 edition of Which? Money magazine.

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Which? Limited is registered in England and Wales to 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF, company number 00677665 and is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Inspop.com Ltd for the introduction of non-investment motor and home insurance products (FRN 610689). Inspop.com Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to provide advice and arrange non-investment motor and home insurance products (FRN310635) and is registered in England and Wales to Greyfriars House, Greyfriars Road, Cardiff, South Wales, CF10 3AL, company number 03857130. Confused.com is a trading name of Inspop.com Ltd.