Typical cover provided

Buildings

The buildings section of a household policy is designed to cover the structure of the home including additional elements, such as walls, fences, paths and driveways, garages, outbuildings and fuel storage tanks. The term 'buildings' is specifically defined in the policy wording.

All insurers provide cover for damage caused by a range of perils, including:

fire, lightning, explosion and earthquake

riot, civil commotion, strikes, labour or political disturbances, malicious damage or vandalism

storm and flood

falling trees or branches

escape of water or oil

theft or attempted theft

impact

subsidence, ground heave or landslip

falling television or radio receiving aerials, their fittings and masts.

A number of other items are automatically included in the cover provided, such as:

accidental damage to services

accidental damage to fixed glass and sanitary fittings

legal fees, architects' and surveyors' fees and debris removal costs incurred following damage to the buildings

loss of rent or the cost of alternative accommodation

repairs to plumbing after freezing

repair of damage following forced emergency access

sale of the home, giving the purchaser the benefit of the insurance up to the date of completion

replacement of locks following loss or theft of keys

the cost of tracing leaks following an escape of water causing damage to the home

Contents

The contents section of a household policy covers any household goods and personal possessions belonging to the insured or members of their household or for which they are legally responsible. Certain items of property are specifically excluded, such as securities, certificates and documents and livestock and pets.

Tenant's fixtures and fittings and a limited amount of business equipment are also covered, where applicable.

Insurers usually place limits on single articles of value (between £1,500 and £2,000), the total amount of valuable items (one third of the contents sum insured or a fixed amount of £7,500) and money (£300 - £750).

The perils covered are largely the same as those covered by the buildings section, subject to minor variations in the wording. The main difference is in relation to theft cover, where loss of money or credit cards and loss or damage while the home or any part of it is let or sublet, must involve the use of force and violence.

A number of other items are automatically included in the cover provided:

temporary removal of contents

contents in the garden

accidental damage to the contents during household removal

accidental damage to fixed glass and mirrors

accidental damage to entertainment equipment

the cost of alternative accommodation following insured damage

loss of heating fuel or metered water

the cost of replacing external door locks and keys, following the loss or theft of keys to the home

temporary increases in sums insured to cover, for example, wedding gifts and gifts and food bought for Christmas or other religious festivals

loss of title deeds.

Cover is most commonly provided on a 'new for old' basis where the full cost of replacing the property as new is paid, subject to the limit of the sum insured. Sums insured are usually index linked, so that they rise in line with inflation.

Legal liability

All buildings and contents household policies automatically include liability cover.

The buildings section covers liability arising out of owning the home, including liability incurred under the Defective Premises Act 1972.

The contents section covers liability arising out of occupying the home. The insured's personal liability as a private individual, liability as an employer of domestic servants and liability as a tenant, where applicable, are also covered.

A limit of indemnity (typically £2 million) applies to any one claim. If the claim involves an employee being injured or falling ill, the limit of indemnity is usually increased to £10 million.

Optional extensions

Buildings and Contents

The main optional extension to buildings and contents cover is full accidental damage cover.

In addition, there are a range of optional sections of cover which can be added to a household policy, including:

personal possessions: all risks cover for personal possessions regularly taken outside the home

money and credit cards: accidental loss of money and/or loss due to fraudulent use of credit cards

pedal cycles: accidental loss of or damage to pedal cycles and accessories

sports equipment: accidental loss of or damage to sports equipment and specialist sports clothing

frozen foods: loss of or damage to frozen foods due to a change in temperature or contamination by freezing agents

legal expenses: the legal costs involved in taking legal action against third parties or defending claims against the insured

home emergency: the cost of call out, labour and parts in the event of a home emergency

assistance services/emergency helplines: 24 hour helpline covering legal advice and emergency assistance with repairs.

Key exclusions

Each of the perils and extensions are subject to specific exclusions. Monetary limits also apply to many of the policy extensions.

In addition, there are exclusions which apply to all sections of a household policy:

war risks

radioactive contamination

sonic bangs

pollution

terrorism

failure of computer equipment to recognise the true calendar date

confiscation of property

deliberate acts

existing damage which arose before cover started