8 surprising situations your home and contents insurance might cover

By Chris Dougherty, General Manager, Westlawn Insurance
27 July 2016

How well do you know your home & contents insurance policy? Depending on your policy and insurer, there are any number of situations that you could be covered for, but may not know are available for you to claim.  

Here are 8 situations you might be surprised to find your Home & Contents insurance may cover. Remember, each insurer and policy will have different policy wordings on what is, and what isn’t, covered. Additionally, some benefits may be payable in addition to your sum insured, while others may be a sub limit within the total sum insured. Check your policy for specifics.

1.    Accidental breakage of glass or sanitary fittings

This usually covers sudden accidental loss by breakage (excluding scratching chipping or denting) which causes a fracture that extends through the entire thickness of any fixed glass and/or glass forming part of furniture.

Common exclusions can include:

  • Glass in a television set, radio or visual display unit
  • Computer equipment or scanner
  • Items outside the walls of the home
  • A glasshouse, greenhouse or conservatory, and
  • Any item where the glass is already damaged.

2.    Electrical motor burnout

Also referred to as fusion, depending on insurer, this cover may be included in the policy or offered as an optional cover.

It covers accidental damage occurring at the property address to a domestic electric motor resulting from the “fusing or melting together of the windings following damage to their insulating material as a result of overheating caused by an electric current”.

Some insurers place a limit on the age of the motor (eg 10 years) and/or apply depreciation to the claim.

Common exclusions can include:

  • Lighting or heating elements
  • Fuses or protective devices
  • A motor covered by a guarantee or warranty
  • Additional parts or service items
  • Leaking of refrigerant gas, and
  • Retrieving and replacing pool pressure or submersible pumps.

3.    Escape of liquid

This usually covers the sudden bursting, leaking, discharging or overflowing of:

  • Dishwashers and clothes washing machines
  • Water catchment trays of refrigerators and freezers
  • Waterbeds
  • Pipes, gutters and drains designed for carrying liquid which are fixed or connected to the home
  • Fixed domestic apparatus such as water tanks, lavatory cisterns and pans, baths, basins, sinks and water mains located at or adjacent to the insured address.

Some insurers may also include explorative costs in searching for unknown source of leaks.

  • Common exclusions can include:
  • Repair or replacement of the defective part or parts
  • Gradual escape of liquid over a period of time, and
  • Shower recesses with and/or without a waterproof tray or membrane.

4.    Landscaping

This cover pays the cost of landscaping accidentally lost or damaged by a claimable event. Some policies limit the type of event for which a claim can be made (such as fire, malicious damage and vehicle impact).

Definitions of what an insurer considers landscaping varies so check your policy wording. Landscaping is usually considered to be part of the Building definition. Most insurers also cover plants and trees growing in pots under a Contents policy.

Common exclusions can include:

  • Lawns
  • Storm damage, or
  • Damage caused by any weather-related event.

There is usually a monetary limit placed on the cover which can apply per plant (eg $750 for any one tree, shrub or plant) and/or per claim or period of insurance (eg $3,000 in total for any one period of insurance). Again, this will depend on the policy and will differ from one insurer to the next.

5.    Contents in open air at insured address

This covers loss or damage by an insured event to contents that are in the open air but within the confines of the insured address.

There is usually a limit placed on the amount of cover and there may be various sub-limits or exclusions for events such as storm and/or theft.

Exclusions may include:

  • Mobile phones
  • Computers, including associated hardware and software
  • Loss or damage caused by any animal or bird pecking, biting, chewing, clawing, tearing or soiling any contents in the open air.

6.    Demolition, removal of debris

If the insured building and/or contents are damaged by an insured event, this benefit pays for the reasonable costs of removing debris and to demolish damaged portions of the property.

It’s important to check the policy wording on this one. Some insurers only pay to remove the debris from the building. Other insurers will include removing it from the site to the nearest dumping ground.

7.    Environmental upgrades

With the move to more environmentally-friendly and sustainable living, some insurers will upgrade cover to include environmentally-friendly initiatives.

Where the insurer agrees to rebuilding following a total loss, these initiatives may include installing:

  • A rainwater tank
  • Solar power system including solar hot water system or photo-voltaic power system
  • Hot water heat exchange system and/or grey water recycling system.

When Contents are insured, the insurer may replace lost or damaged appliances that have less than a 3 star energy rating with appliances with a minimum 3 star energy rating.

8.    Aggravated theft/robbery away from home

You might be surprised to find that where you have Contents at your primary residence, some insurers will provide cover for aggravated theft or robbery of your handbag and/or wallet whilst you’re away from the building.

Depending on the policy, to claim you may need to:

  • Report the incident to police as soon as possible within 24 hours of the assault, and
  • Demonstrate evidence of an assault.

There is usually an overall monetary limit which can be broken down into sub-limits for the handbag, wallet, cash and other contents.

The above options may or may not be available on your particular Home & Contents policy. Check the policy wordings and if you have any questions, contact a Westlawn Insurance Broker:

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