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10 things your home and contents insurance does and doesn’t cover

Home and contents insurance can help you get back on your feet if your home and/or personal belongings are lost or damaged. But do you know what your policy covers and what it doesn't? We take a look at the top things that home and contents insurance typically does or doesn't include, so that you can choose the right policy for your home.

What is home and contents insurance?

Home and contents insurance can help to financially protect your home and possessions in the event of loss or damage.

As a homeowner, there can be instances where you need to protect your property and its contents. These may include things like natural risks, such as floods, natural disasters and fires, as well as social issues like theft, riots or malicious acts.

Ensuring that your home and contents are insured can be the difference between being able to restore your property and possessions and being left under the financial strain of trying to recover from an incident. Life is unexpected and these kinds of challenges can often blindside us. 

 

What does home and contents insurance cover?

It’s not unusual to assume that your home and contents insurance covers everything  – that is, your entire home and all it contains. Unfortunately, that’s very rarely the case. That’s why it pays to understand the terms of your insurance policy before you sign up and before something goes wrong. You can usually find this detail in your policy schedule and/or product disclosure statement (PDS), which shows whether you’re covered for building, contents and/or personal valuables cover, along with details about your premium, level of cover, sums insured and applicable excesses. 

So, what does your home and contents insurance cover?

1. Your home

Yes, this type of insurance can indeed cover your whole home. Basic building structures are nearly always covered. However, there are different levels of cover, so you should always review the PDS before purchasing insurance.

In general, things like walls, gates, decks, patios, balconies, paths and driveways will be covered, as well as permanently fixed domestic items and fixtures. Gas, plumbing, sewerage, draining and electrical systems are also normally included in basic cover. So are garages, sheds and other domestic outbuildings. 

2. Household contents

Contents insurance covers your personal items that are usually kept in your home.If you need to make a claim, you receive a percentage of the total sum insured, depending on your level of cover.

Normally there will be a cover limit  on household content items, but as long as you clearly declare any higher value personal items – that is, items not used for trade or business – you want to include, you should be able to add them at an additional cost depending on the particular policy. For example, you might want to insure for artworks or collectables you keep at home, or valuable personal items like jewellery, watches, handbags or laptops.

3. When you go away

The insured contents of your home are usually covered from loss or damage even when they’re temporarily removed, such as when you go on holiday. This is known as portable valuables cover. Each provider will have different rules related to this type of cover and the amount of time they classify as a ‘holiday’. For example, some home and contents insurance policies will only cover items temporarily removed from the home but still within Australia, items that are securely locked and provided the holiday doesn’t exceed 90 days. 

If you plan to take an item on holiday that isn’t listed in your home and contents policy, you may need to consider additional single item insurance.

4. Home improvements

If you’re undertaking renovations to your home, it may be best talk to your insurer to see if your current cover is sufficient. Some elements that are usually covered may not be protected during the building process. And depending on the extent of the renovations, you may need to upgrade your insurance cover once the works are complete. 

Communication is key here, so it may be worth looping your insurer in as early in the process as possible to ensure your new and improved home is covered. 

5. Emergency accommodation

It may vary depending on your level of policy and provider, but usually home and contents insurance does cover emergency accommodation should your property become unliveable. However, the service is usually capped at a certain amount of time and/or sum. 

6. Accidental loss or damage

Accidental loss or damage to your home and its contents, for example when reversing into your garden wall or smashing an expensive ornament, is rarely covered by home and contents insurance. However, some Premier Care packages do allow for this option, so long as there was no intent. 

 

What doesn’t home and contents insurance cover?

While home and contents insurance can cover your property and belongings for the most part, there are some situations in which your insurance policy may not cover you. For example:

1. Wear and tear 

Wear and tear and gradual deterioration isn’t included in your policy. When you take out home and contents insurance it’s assumed that you maintain the property and manage any risks to your home, such as mould, mildew, tree roots and rust.

2. Contents that has no proof of value

When you make a claim on home and contents insurance, you need to be able to prove both ownership and the value of an item. If you don’t have physical proof, in the form of a receipt, valuation or photograph, the insurer can refuse or significantly reduce your claim on the item.

4. Greenery and outdoor decorations

Things like your lawn, landscaping, trees, plants and water features are not typically covered in home and contents insurance. However, some premium covers allow for these things to be included under additional benefits.

5. Vehicles

Motorised vehicles, any registrable cars, caravans and trailers aren’t covered by home and contents insurance. Neither are motorised watercrafts, and large watercraft and possessions such as drones and aircrafts. For these kinds of items you will need vehicle insurance.

 

Researching home and contents insurance can quickly become overwhelming but, when it comes to finding the right cover, reading the fine print pays off. Make sure the policy is appropriate for the actual value of your home and contents and covers everything in and about your home that you hold dear.

Need Insurance? 

Want to know more about protecting your home and belongings?

Learn more about our different levels of home and contents insurance here.

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Important information

The information contained in this article is general information only and is not specific to any product.  

It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs to these factors before acting on it.

Terms, conditions and exclusions apply to any insurance product. Please read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Terms and Conditions or Product Disclosure Statement, before deciding.

Cover is subject to your application for insurance being accepted.

Product Disclosure Statements (PDS)

Home and Contents Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 619KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed on or after 5 April 2021)

Home and Contents Insurance Product Disclosure Statement and Supplementary Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 382KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed in the period between 1 July 2019 and 4 April 2021)

Product Disclosure Statements (PDS)

Landlord Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 585KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed on or after 5 April 2021)

Landlord Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 426KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed in the period between 1 July 2019 and 4 April 2021)

This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Read the relevant PDS(s) to see if this insurance is right for you.

View the Retail and Business Banking Financial Services Guide, Credit Guide and Privacy Statement. (PDF 169KB)

Home and Contents Insurance is issued by Westpac General Insurance Limited ABN 99 003 719 319 (except workers compensation cover where applicable).  St.George  – a Division of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (the Bank) distributes the insurance, but does not guarantee the insurance.