Home and contents insurance policies in Australia are often divided into two groups: “defined” (or “listed”) events policies, and “accidental damage” policies. We break down the jargon to explain the difference.

What’s in a defined events policy?

Broadly speaking, a defined events policy lists the events (that cause damage to your home or contents) that you’re insured for, and everything else is excluded. The things you are insured for are called the “defined” or “listed” events. Policies differ, but commonly listed events include:

  • Fire
  • Storm
  • Lightning damage
  • Earthquake
  • Theft
  • Wind damage
  • Cyclone
  • Rainwater damage
  • Earthquake
  • Explosion
  • Oil leak
  • Malicious damage
  • Damage caused during a robbery
  • Riots, war or civil commotion.

Listed events can vary between different insurance policies. For example, home insurance might provide cover for broken glass, while contents insurance won’t.

Your defined events policy will generally exclude anything not listed under ‘listed events’, but in some cases you’ll be able to nominate extras (or ‘additional’) events you wish to be covered for.

What is an ‘accidental damage’ policy?

On the other hand, accidental damage insurance generally covers you for any “accidental loss or damage”, and will list the things that you’re not insured for. Broadly speaking, these policies generally cover everything that ‘defined events’ policies cover, as well as any loss or damage that arises from an accident (unless that accident is specifically excluded).

It is more than likely that accidental damage cover won’t let you claim in every circumstance. You will need to consider any exclusions listed in your policy. For example, you may not be covered if defective workmanship results in damage to your house. Ensure you read and understand such exclusions when taking out cover.

If you’re unsure about whether your policy covers you for a particular event, give your insurance company a call.