Surprising things not covered by contents insurance

is her tv covered by contents insurance

When you take out a contents insurance policy you may think you’re covered for damage to any item you own, but there are many exclusions you may not be aware of.

Home contents insurance policies are intended to provide a certain level of financial protection against theft, loss or damage to your personal belongings.

This includes items such as your television, fridge, clothing, furniture and any other items that make up the ‘contents’ of your home.

Most of your possessions will be automatically covered under such policies, but you may be required to list particularly expensive items such as jewellery or computer equipment separately (and usually pay an additional premium).

In addition, there are a number of common scenarios that you would think would be covered, but are usually excluded under most contents insurance policies.

Theft or damage when your home is vacant

Many older Australians leave their home vacant for large parts of the year in order to travel. You might think your belongings are covered while you’re away, but exclusions can apply depending on how long you’re gone.

A fairly standard inclusion in most contents insurance polices is a requirement to inform your insurer if you intend to leave your home vacant for an extended period, usually 60 days or more but it can be as high as 180 days depending on the insurer.

Depending on your insurer, you may have to pay an additional excess for claims that occur during this period of vacancy. If you fail to inform your insurer that you’ve left your home unattended, they may have grounds to reject your claim entirely.

Pet damage

Australians love their pets, but the damage they can cause to your belongings if often not covered by contents insurance without an additional excess, if pet damage is covered at all. This even applies for policies that cover Accidental Damage.

Daniel Graham, home insurance expert at consumer group CHOICE, says contents policies often cover you for damage caused by wild animals, but not by your pets.

“Animal damage cover often comes with a list of exclusions,” he says.

“For example, you might only be covered for a wild animal that gets trapped in your home. Or your insurer might exclude chewing, pecking, scratching and soiling.”

If you are adamant you need to cover pet damage, you’ll usually have to upgrade your policy to specifically include it. Even then many insurers simply won’t cover it.

General wear and tear

Home contents insurance policies are intended to protect against one-off events, and are not meant to offer catch-all protection for any damage that happens to your belongings.

It helps to think of contents insurance as cover for damage caused to your possessions in a specific list of situations such as a fire or break-in, not for every single piece of damage. 

For example, if your fridge is damaged in a fire or your television is stolen in a break-in, you’ll most likely be covered. But if your fridge stops working because the motor burns out, or your TV’s cables become frayed over time, then you won’t be.

It’s always a good idea to read your insurer’s product disclosure statement to find out exactly what you are and aren’t covered for.

Have you ever been caught out by your home contents insurance policy? Should insurers cover damage more broadly? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Also read: The pros and cons of pet insurance

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


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  1. So no point in asking about the ceiling in the spare room sagging ? I have to have home contents due to my mortgage but seriously considering cancelling contents .especially when they say it’s not market value BUT what you’d get in a garage sale or gumtree ect .All advice appreciated

  2. I would never consider paying any company that does not cover items….new for old. I swing between AAMi and Budget Direct. Essentially I do it because there is no loyalty benefit from any company, so moving sideway every year gets me a bonus for signing up as a new member .

  3. Justjanet, I’d get rid of that insurance company quick smart. There are quite a few companies that do a new for old. When we lived in Bourke, we were broken into while away, and had bed linen (bottom sheets from one set and top sheets fromanother !) , jug, wok doona, toaster, camera , collectoion of 50 cent coins , including circular one, two boxes of medical teaching slides, and more that I can’t recall,, all piled into my wife’s car in a locked garage, that was driven off to a reserve, emptied and the car left in a creek, which was part of the Murray Darling. All of the stuff was replaced with new, approx $1500. Unfortunately, Janet, I can’t recall the name of the insurance company, it might have been NRMA

  4. Furthwe to my comment below, we lived in a rented house, as we weren’t intending staying long in Bourke, so just took out contents only with the company. Wasn’t a problem.

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