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A guide to accidental damage caused by children

You need not be a parent to know that even the best-behaved children can sometimes cause damage in your home, from crayons along the walls to the occasional window smash at the hands of a football.

Research has shown that children cause an average of £176 worth of damage to homes every year, with more home insurance claims for damage caused by children being submitted in the school holidays than during term time[1]. Of those surveyed by Policy Expert, 1 in 7 parents said that their children had caused more than £500 worth of damage in the last year[2].

Get cover sooner, rather than later

To protect yourself from having to pay out when your home or contents are damaged by your children, or visiting children, you’ll want to make sure that you have both buildings insurance and contents insurance, and that your policies include accidental damage.

Some items may already be covered as standard under your home insurance policies, but, for full protection, you’ll need accidental damage cover, too.

Accidental damage cover is often classed as an extra, so you may need to pay a supplement to add it to your policy. However, this may prove to be a small price to pay, if you end up needing to make a claim.

Accidental damage cover – the basics

Accidental damage cover is designed to protect you from ‘damage that occurs suddenly as a result of an unexpected and non-deliberate external action.’[3] This can be caused by a child or an adult, so the age of the person isn’t relevant when making a claim.

It’s important to read your policy documents to check what is included in your accidental damage cover, as this can differ between insurers. Don’t wait until you need to make a claim to find out.

For contents insurance, there will usually be a single item limit[4], which means that your insurer will only pay up to a certain amount per individual item. If, for example, you have an electric guitar that is worth more than that amount, you need to let the insurer know. If you don’t, you won’t be fully covered, and, should the item be damaged beyond repair, the insurer could refuse to pay out in the event of a claim.

It’s important to know that accidental damage cover doesn’t include general wear and tear from day-to-day use.

In the event that something does get damaged, you need to be careful when you’re clearing up the mess, as damage caused by cleaning is often not covered[5].

Top tips

If the damage is minor, you may decide not to make a claim and to pay for any repairs yourself, so you don’t lose your no claims bonus.

Prevention is better than cure, so try to keep expensive items out of the reach of children, and explain to them that some things are for adults only and are, therefore, off limits.

As a parent, it can be easy to let a child play on your tablet or other expensive electrical device to entertain them for a short while, but it might be better to give them a child-version of the device or an older model that wouldn’t cost much to replace.

Children can become bored easily, especially during holiday periods, and this could lead to destructive behaviour. Letting them blow off some steam in the garden or at a local park can help combat this. Another alternative could be giving them a list of tasks you’d like them to do and including a reward, if they complete them all.

If there is an incident and something gets damaged by children around your house, it’s important to forgive and forget as soon as possible, even though it can be frustrating. Kids will be kids, broken items can be replaced and you may end up with a funny story that you can recount to them when they grow up - even if you’re not laughing about it now.

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