How accidental damage cover for pets works

Damage to furniture is one of the perils of pet ownership but insurance can be there to help. Find out more about how it works and who offers cover.

Accidental damage pet insurance cover explained

Within most insurance policies you’ll find a section that provides cover for accidental damage caused by your pet to your home or property. This can be particularly useful if you’ve got a particularly energetic puppy or kitten running about your home, and can help you to repair damage like scratch marks on the floor, clawed furniture and muddy paw prints throughout the house.

Contents of this guide

What is accidental damage cover? 

If you’re already insured then you should check the definition of accidental damage in the policy wording for your policy. This is because different insurers have different descriptions of what this means.

Where there is no definition we can refer back to the Financial Ombudsman Service which defines accidental damage as something that is:

  • unforeseen
  • unintentional
  • not only physical damage to an item, but also something that resulted in a loss of function (unable to perform the task it was designed to do)

Is it part of all pet insurance policies?

For all the policies we’ve checked, around half provide cover for accidental damage. Cover ranges from £250 worth of cover up to £5,000 worth of cover offered by NFU Mutual.

What if my pet damages someone else’s property?

Most insurers will provide cover for accidental damage that your pet causes in a property that isn’t your own. Like most things, it’ll be important to check the policy wording to understand when this cover applies and certain exclusions that might be specific to your own provider. Below we’ll look at some common things to look for.

When does accidental damage apply (and when doesn’t it)?

Third party liability and accidental damage are similar in their uses, but different in terms of when you would claim under each part of the policy. It normally relates to the concept of being ‘invited in’. For example, if you went to a friend’s house and are invited in with your dog, which then causes damage to their property, then this will be covered under the accidental damage section of the policy.

If instead, your dog was in the park for a walk and ran off the lead, ran in to the road and caused a road traffic collision – this would be covered under third party liability section of cover.

There are also some instances with pet insurance, where certain exclusions enforced which mean that the accidental damage section of the policy can be removed.

This tends to happen if your dog falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Dangerous dogs list
  • Your dog has been the subject of complaints
  • You’ve declared the dog as having aggressive tendencies

If your dog does fall into one of these categories, the naturally the risk of damage within the home and outside the home increases, so some insurers will remove this cover, as well as cover for Third Party Liability for your dog.

Other common exclusions on accidental damage claims include:

  • Where the damage is caused to personal property owned by you or in control of yours, your family, your employee or a guest at the time of the damage being caused.
  • Where damage is to a person who is looking after your pet.
  • Where damage occurred where the pet was left at home without an adult present.
  • Where the damage relates to a motor vehicle.
  • Where damage caused by your pet vomiting, urinating or fouling on items.

Isn’t accidental damage covered by my home insurance?

You might think that you can claim on your home contents insurance for damage caused by your pets in the home, but that’s not always the case. Depending upon the level of cover you have you may find exclusions relating to chewing, scratches and tears as a result of your household pet.

The reason these types of incidents are excluded is because of the difficulty of accurately valuing the damage caused. Most people usually opt for self-insurance, basically saving up money to use in the event that your pet causes some damage. If you prefer to have the comfort of insurance cover there are specialist accidental damage insurers but this can sometimes work out quite expensive. It’s for this reason that pet insurance provides a good middle ground – providing good quality insurance without the high cost – plus you’ll get covered for health conditions as well as accidental damage.

Check your contents insurance to get clarity over this to make sure you’re covered.

How to avoid accidental damage?

The best way to avoid making a claim for accidental damage is to try to discourage your pet from any negative traits that may lead to destruction of property. There are a number of ways to ensure that your pet doesn’t fall into destructive patterns.

Adequate exercise

A key driver towards destructive behaviour is when a pet is not getting the attention they need. When it comes to dogs, exercise is not just key for their physical health but also to stimulate them mentally. It also has the added benefit of helping to stop unwanted behaviour in the home.

Scratch posts

Whether you like it or not, pets will scratch, but providing an alternative location for your pets to do it could help preserve your furniture for longer. Plenty of scratch posts are available online and in-store, couple it with catnip spray for your feline friends and that might just convince them to use the post instead.

Puppy training courses

Training you puppy goes beyond socialisation and toilet training, teaching your puppy the house rules and what is and isn’t acceptable is important from a young age. You can sign up for puppy training classes or find good tips online to help make sure that they adjust well and know the boundaries in your home.

Deterrent sprays

There are plenty of anti-scratch sprays available online that you can spray on furniture and sofas to deter your pets from ruining your property. You can find herbal sprays rather than chemical ones which could be better for both you and your pets.