Accident prone homes: £5bn of contents at risk

27 October 2015

  • Almost half (46%) of UK households don’t have accidental damage insurance
  • Average claim value settled for accidental damage on a contents policy is £458 putting £5.6bn worth of contents at risk
  • One in eight people (12%) make damage worse by trying to remedy it themselves

More than 12 million households in the UK - almost half (46%) - don’t have accidental damage cover according to new research from The Co-operative Insurance, leaving more than £5.6bn worth of contents at risk, from burns on the carpet to broken glassware and electrical items .*

Accidental damage is explained as unintentional and unexpected loss or harm to a person’s contents or property e.g. spilling a drink on the carpet or someone putting a foot through the loft floor. 

Accidental insurance is available for both buildings and contents and while many insurers provide a certain level of this type of cover as standard, depending on a person’s requirements, additional accidental cover may be required. **

According to the research conducted by the insurer, more than a quarter of people (28%) have experienced accidental damage at some point, equating to more than 7.4 million households.***

When asked, unusual reasons consumers listed for claiming on their accidental damage insurance included:

  • ‘damage to carpets and curtains due to severe nosebleeds’
  • ‘being locked out by a two year-old, which resulted in the police breaking a door down’
  • ‘sugar spilling into hi-fi equipment’

Families are particularly exposed, as more than two in five (45%) parents with children under the age of 18 aren’t protected and 10% aren’t sure whether or not they have this type of cover.  Yet, a quarter (26%) blamed their child for causing the most recent accident in their home.  Toddlers aged two-three years are the worst culprits, with common damages that parents experience caused by nappy creams, nail polish, make-up and hair straighteners.  

It seems that the majority of people would rather try to remedy the damage themselves (53%), with women more likely than men to try to fix things first (57% versus 50%).  However, around one in eight people (12%) said they actually made the situation worse by trying to do this.   The average amount individuals would pay for repairs before making a claim on their policy was almost £300.

The Co-operative Insurance’s own data shows that the average claim value settled for accidental damage on a contents policy is £458.  Those aged between 45-54 years-old were most likely to claim on their contents policy for accidental damage. ****

The lounge is the biggest danger zone for destruction as almost a third (31%) of accidental damage takes place here.

The most common claims for households are:

  1. water damage (27%)
  2. broken glass (24%)
  3. broken electrical items (22%)
  4. spilt wine or drinks (19%)

While those who do have accidental damage cover make good use of it with almost three quarters (73%) having made a claim on their policy, more than half of those who don’t have cover (53%) said they didn’t need it.

Caroline Hunter, Head of Home Insurance at The Co-operative, says:

“You should check what is covered by your home insurance policy before you take it out to ensure it meets your needs.  Some insurers include specific elements of accidental damage cover as standard, for example damage to TVs and video equipment.  However, portable items such as laptops may not be covered.

“Many items such as laptops or tablets are expensive to replace. Therefore, it pays to think about what you could afford to purchase again if an accident occurred, especially if you are particularly dependent on certain items day-to-day.  Accidents are an unfortunate, but real part of every-day life so increasing the level of cover you have may be worth it in the long-run.”

The research also shows that people lack the right level of protection when it comes to accidental damage cover on their buildings insurance policy, putting not only their property at risk, but also their permanent fixtures and fittings.  In addition to structural damage, other misfortunes could also include a broken cooker door, a smashed ceramic hob, shattered shower door or a cracked bath.*

Based on The Co-operative Insurance’s claims data the top causes for accidental damage to contents are:

  1. Accidentally dropped items e.g. a dropped TV whilst it is being fitted to a wall or a phone dropped on the floor
  2. Accidentally knocked over items e.g. milk knocked over a laptop
  3. Spillages e.g. drinks spilt on furniture, flooring or technology
  4. Water contamination e.g. a phone put in the washing machine or other water (toilet or bath)
  5. Puncture e.g. a freezer punctured when being de-iced or a floor covering that is ripped when moving items. This could also include a punctured TV or laptop screen


Notes to editors

*Research conducted by One Poll with 2,000 UK adults across the UK on behalf of The Co-operative Insurance, 2015.  
There are 26.7 million households in the UK according to ONS data 2014.
46%x 26.7million = 12,282,000
Average claim value for accidental damage on a contents policy is £458
12,282,000x £458 = £5.6bn.
Average claim value for accidental damage on a buildings insurance policy is £1,027.
** The Co-operative Insurance includes accidental damage to underground drains, pipes and cables and breakages to fixed glass and sanitary-ware as standard under its buildings insurance policy. Buildings accidental damage covers harm or loss to the property in addition to its permanent fixtures and fittings.   Under The Co-operative Insurance accidental damage cover for contents, accidental damage to specific items in the home such as TVs, DVD players, audio and video equipment is covered, but not portable items such as laptops.
*** One Poll research - 28% x 26.7m households = 7.4million households
****Claims data analysis from The Co-operative Insurance (2012-2015).


For further information contact:

Alex Wilson
Press & Media Relations Manager - The Co-operative Group
0161 767 4281/07540 641368