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.
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.
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.
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:
|Rank||Area of coverage||Percentage of policies that provide cover|
|1||Storm damage to fences, gates and hedges||2%|
|2||Lost car keys||7%|
|3||Car keys stolen from house||7%|
|4||Legal expenses cover (related to planning disputes)||7%|
|5||No-claims discount protection||14%|
Before buying home insurance, it's important to carefully check the policy documents to ensure you're purchasing the cover you expect.
We've also got insurer ratings from customers who've recently made a claim.
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).
The full version of this article appeared in the April 2022 edition of Which? Money magazine.
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.