As you might already know, home and contents insurance does not cover absolutely everything that you own. You will likely choose a comprehensive policy with added extras to safeguard your house and possessions against as many scenarios as possible. However, you still need to know that a number of exclusions and restrictions can come into play when you buy your policy.

What does home and contents insurance not cover?

Although they tend to vary between insurance companies, some of the common exclusions are:

  • Leaving your property uninhabited for a long period of time. If you’re travelling overseas for a large part of the year, telling your insurer in advance is well worth it.
  • Not securing your home properly. If your home isn’t secure or if you haven’t taken reasonable steps to secure it, you risk not being able to claim depending on your policy.
  • Home swapping with another person or having someone stay at your place. While holiday lets or private rentals are great ways to generate additional income, it is important to remember that generally only the persons listed on the insurance certificate are eligible for cover.
  • Not being covered for flooding. If you live near a watercourse or body of water, you need to take due precautions such as getting flood insurance. Otherwise you could face the unfortunate prospect of paying for damages yourself.
  • Storm damage. As surprising as it may seem, not all insurers cover storm-related damage. Examples include lightning damage that was not recorded in your area, or the cost of removing fallen trees from your property.
  • Existing damage. If your house has pre-existing damage, which can range from mouldy ceilings and leaky roofs to serious structural defects, you usually cannot make a claim to fix it.
  • Acts of war, hostility or rebellion. Although acts of war have not been carried out on Australian soil since WWII, they are considered ‘force majeure’ (i.e. unavoidable) circumstances, and your property is exempt from cover if it suffers from them.
  • Animal damage. This event is more likely to occur in the outback where pests like feral pigs can inflict damage on a property.
  • Renovations. While your policy may have specific renovating-related clauses, most insurers won’t provide renovations If you cannot take out insurance that covers your renovations, you might need to pay through your builder’s insurers or a separate policy entirely.

When you compare home insurance, you will find that all policies have limitations and exclusions of one form or another. This is why it’s crucial that you understand the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) the vendor provides you before you purchase a home and contents policy.