How accidental damage claims have surged in the pandemic


Accidental damage claims have risen substantially over the past year with the pandemic meaning millions of workers are doing so from home.

Some saw large increases, including Halifax Home Insurance, which reported a 35 per cent rise in claims in September in 2020 when compared to the same month in 2019.

Although lockdown measures had largely abated in that month, many still continued to work from home and spent more time indoors, rather than potentially on holidays. 

It said the most common accidents included damage to computers, fixed glass and electrical items.

Spillages are one of the most common claims made on home insurance for accidental damage

Spillages are one of the most common claims made on home insurance for accidental damage

To find out some of the other most common claims – and how much they had risen by – we contacted some of the biggest home insurers.  

Halifax said it saw an 11 per cent increase in claims for accidental damage in 2020 versus 2019, spiking to a 14 per cent increase when compared to 2018.

Even as lockdown rules started easing over the summer months, accidental damage claims kept rising, peaking to 2,106 and 2,226 in July and September respectively.

This represents a 19 per cent and 35 per cent increase between the same months the previous year.

Swinton Insurance added it paid out £33million in home insurance claims in 2020.

Of this £33million, 25 per cent were a result of water escaping pipework or appliances within the home whilst 15 per cent were attributable to accidental damage.

Some 13 per cent was caused by fire and 7.6 per cent was a result of theft.

It said it has paid out or reported £3.6million worth of home insurance claims this year so far.   

Escape of water was responsible for the highest number of claims at 29 per cent whilst fire made up 21 per cent.  

Accidental damage and floods both took up 13 per cent of claims whilst just three per cent was theft – likely due to the large number of people at home deterring thieves.  

Meanwhile, LV= said in January of this year, accidental damage represented 48 per cent of all new claims.

This was the third highest peak seen since April which saw 51 per cent of claims due to damage and May last year where 50 per cent of claims were for damage, when the country was in the first national lockdown. 

These claims have rise year on year with breakages accounting for around 50 per cent of these claims. 

Spillage claims decreased in 2018, but rose by 12 per cent in 2019 and again by 12 per cent in 2020. 

Furthermore, in January 2021 accidental damage claims where spillage was the cause reached a record high of 22 per cent. 

Other claims for accidental damage include broken glass as more people spend time at home

Other claims for accidental damage include broken glass as more people spend time at home

Within this figure, 44 per cent of accidental damage claims related to computer and office equipment – the highest peak since April last year when it reached 46 per cent. 

The change in lifestyle is evident, with around 30 per cent of all claims relating to accidental damage in pre-covid times.  

Admiral added it has seen an increase in accidental damage claims for the whole period since the start of the pandemic.

The number of accidental damage claims since the pandemic started in March has increased by 28 per cent compared with the period between March 2019 and February 2020.

It said it has seen an increase of 31 per cent in claims for damaged laptops and 40 per cent for claims mentioning decorating and renovating.

Martin Milliner, claims director at LV= GI said: ‘With most of the country working from home and children being home-schooled, accidental damage to computers, laptops, and other technology equipment is inevitable.

‘We can see that many of us are making a drink, putting it to the side of our technology while we work and home-school, and accidentally knocking it over.

‘Accidental damage insurance is there for you when these incidents happen. It’s always worth checking the limit of your accidental damage policy, especially at the moment if the whole family is spending more time at home.’

Home insurance is even more important now families are spending more time in the home

Home insurance is even more important now families are spending more time in the home

Nine tips on preventing accidental damage

According to Halifax and LV=, there are nine simple ways to prevent becoming an accidental damage statistic:

1. Avoid spills: Keep drinks away from electrical items like laptops and use bottles with lids for extra safety.

2. Be careful with wires: With the nation spending more time on electrical items like laptops, TVs and computer games for entertainment, it can be easy to trip on a trailing wire. Make sure that electrical cables for items are tucked away to avoid trips and breakages.

3. No ball games: Encourage children to avoid playing high energy games involving things like rackets and balls games indoors, choosing options such as jigsaws or card games instead.

4. Take care when cooking: With restaurants still closed, people are likely to be spending more time in the kitchen. It’s therefore important to take care around potential risks such as boiling water and hot pans.

5. Have insurance details to hand: Accidents do happen, so have your insurer’s details to hand just in case and check your policy so you know what you’re covered for.

6. Secure rugs: To prevent rugs from moving around and causing slips, secure them with non-skid pads or purchase rugs with slip-resistant backings. Another alternative is to use double-sided carpet tape to keep the rug in place.

7. Stair safety: To best avoid falls make sure your handrail runs the full length of the staircase, carpets are secure, and don’t put area rugs or mats at the base or top of the stairs.

8. Dropped phone into water: If your phone does end up in water try removing the case, Sim card and the battery. Use a cloth to dab away the water you can see. Then place everything in a bowl of uncooked rice for at least 12 hours to soak up any moisture that’s left. 

9. Tackling carpet stains: Speed is of the essence to tackle stains, so act fast. Use a white cloth or paper towel to blot the area and then pour cold water onto the stain to dilute it. 

Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid with two cups of warm water. Sponge the stain with this solution, blotting as you go.

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