Understand the risks covered by a home and contents insurance policy


Burglary, Theft or Housebreaking

This involves loss and/or damage caused by thieves. Theft of money may need to involve forcible and violent entry or insurers may reduce the limit of cover without evidence of such an entry. Some insurers may include coverage for theft of a handbag and/or wallet outside the home following violent physical assault and most insurers will offer a reduced level of cover for theft of contents in the open air.

Common exclusions are: theft by the insured and/or family members, theft by tenants, theft by a person at the address with the consent of the insured, their family or tenants and people acting with the consent of the insured, their family or tenants.


Covers loss or damage caused by earthquake. Most insurers also cover loss or damage caused by landslides that occur immediately as a result of the earthquake, and loss or damage for a period after the earthquake (usually 72 hours). An additional earthquake excess (usually $200) applies to the majority of policies.

Electrical Motor Burnout 

Accidental damage occurring at the property to a domestic electric motor. The damage is caused by the melting together of the windings from overheating triggered by an electric current. Some insurers will place a limit on the age of the motor and may apply depreciation. This cover can be included in the policy or offered as an option.

Common exclusions are: a lighting or heating element, a fuse, an electrical contact or switch, a motor covered by a guarantee or warranty, any radio or television, a printed circuit board, any amplifying electronic equipment, leaking of refrigerant gas and retrieving and replacing pool or submersible pumps.

Escape of Liquid 

Usually is meant to cover the sudden bursting, leaking, discharging or overflowing of dish and clothes washing machines, refrigerators and freezers, waterbeds, pipes, gutters, drains designed for carrying liquid which are fixed or connected to the home, water tanks, toilets, baths, basins, sinks and water mains located at next to the insured address. Some insurers include costs for searching for the source of the leak.

Common exclusions are: the repair or replacement of the defective part or parts, gradual leaks and showers without proper waterproofing.

Explosion, Lightning, Impact 

An explosion usually requires physical evidence and most Insurers will exclude the repair or replacement of the item that exploded.


Fire is considered burning with visible flames to an item not intended for that purpose. Most insurers do not offer bushfire cover within the first 48 hours of a policy’s commencement unless cover expired on the same risk without a break.

Common exclusions are: sparking, scorching, melting or where there is no evidence of flames, and the application of heat to any part of insured property.


Flood can have several definitions and it’s important to carefully check the policy. It can mean the overflow of water from a natural source such as a river, lake, creek, dam, canal or flood channel onto land. Water which enters a home/building because it cannot run off the land due to having mixed with water from a flooded natural or an open man-made source may also be treated as a flood.

Most insurers will exclude flood damage whilst others may offer it as a policy option for an additional cost. Some may also offer cover for ‘flash’ flooding as a policy option.

Malicious Damage 

Covers loss or damage caused by a deliberate, intentional, malicious or criminal act designed to cause damage.

Common exclusions are: (a) damage caused by the insured and/or family members (b) damage caused by tenants (c) damage caused by a person at the address with the consent of the insured, their family or tenants and (d) damage caused by a person acting with the express or implied consent of the insured, their family or tenants.

Riot or Civil Commotion 

Covers loss or damage resulting from a riot or civil commotion and the damage caused by the authorities in controlling such an event. Some insurers will include industrial and/or political disturbances while others will exclude a riot or civil commotion that amounts to an uprising.

Spoilage of Freezer Food 

Covers the accidental spoilage of food and other goods stored in a domestic freezer or refrigerator, caused by the breakdown of the unit or an electrical failure. Some insurers extend this cover to refrigerated (i.e. not frozen) food also. There is usually a limit of cover for the cost to replace the spoiled food.

Common exclusions are: spoilage as a result of strikes and the intentional switching off or disconnection of electricity supply.

Storm, Rainwater, Wind 

Storm cover usually includes loss or damage caused by violent wind cyclones or tornadoes that may be accompanied by rain, hail or snow. Most insurers will exclude coverage for the first 48 hours of the commencement of the policy.

The majority of insurers will offer a reduced cover for storm damage to contents in the open air and may have a separate settlement clause for storm, rain or wind damage to gates, fences freestanding walls and/or retaining walls. Common exclusions are: damage to trees plants and shrubs and damage to retaining walls.


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