Appliance Cover; The Finer Details

We often take our appliances for granted, until — once we’ve been dropped back into 19th century, forced to scrub clothing by hand we can’t get our white goods repaired fast enough.

A standard home contents insurance policy will cover your appliances if they are damaged or destroyed in a fire, storm, flood, other natural disaster or if they’re stolen. But it won’t cover these kitchen essentials if they break down due to age, wear and tear or are accidentally damaged.

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Appliance insurance policies can cover these eventualities, compensating you for the repair or replacement of appliances, including ovens, hobs, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and more. All insurance policies have exclusions or events they just will not cover.

Typical exclusions on appliance insurance policies include:

  • cosmetic damage, including dents and scratches
  • deliberate damage
  • faults arising from your failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • the replacement of batteries, fuses, and bulbs
  • problems that existed before you took out the cover
  • delivery and installation costs
  • callout costs if no fault is found with the appliance
  • damage to appliances if your home has been vacant for more than one calendar month (this may vary)
  • repairs that have not been carried out by an authorised engineer
  • claims for appliances used in commercial operation – e.g. for ovens and dishwashers in a cafe or restaurant

Unfortunately, most policies will not cover appliances over eight years old, so you may struggle to insure white goods that are old.

Once you take out an insurance policy, you agree to be obligated by the terms and conditions. However, standard clauses may be contested if they’re considered to be unfair.

If you agreed your insurance contract before 1 October 2015 than the Under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulation 1999 is in force. If you signed your insurance contract after 1 October 2015 then the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is in force. Under both pieces of legislation, certain standard clauses may be challenged if they’re considered to be unfair.

On balance, however, insurance can also be a much-needed life-line, offering you cover on common items that you take outside of the house regularly like phones, laptops, and handheld consoles.

A good way to do work out the worth of getting insurance is to work out how much your appliance would cost to replace. Consider the price of repairing say, a cracked screen, from all vantage points.

The decision to get an appliance insurance

As a rule of thumb, if the cost of repair is more than the cost of an extended warranty, you could be putting your money to good use in a policy.

However, most policies include replacement cover if your appliance cannot be repaired. Ultimately, this could save you money if your appliance is not under the manufacturer’s guarantee. Most phones and laptops today do not allow you to open them and remove their batteries etc. Having appliance cover can stop you having to go through the tedious and lengthy process of the courts. It’s the easier alternative.

Consumer protection when you buy a faulty appliance

Some of the more important cases to defended by large companies include the case of Michael Hufford v Samsung Electronics (UK) Limited [2014], which was heard at the Technology and Construction Court in Birmingham. It concerned a fire which the claimant claimed originated inside his Samsung fridge freezer. The defendant contended that the fire started externally. The court was therefore required to determine, on the balance of probabilities, what caused the fire, based on the parties’ expert analyses.

Samsung successfully defended the claim and His Honour Judge David Grant found that the fire had begun externally. This was an important case concerning the Consumer Protection Act 1987, the Technology and Construction Court revisited the principles to be applied when considering a manufacturer’s statutory liability.

If you ever find yourself considering court action, consider whether the goods are actually unsafe. Did the manufacturer’s poor-quality cause personal injury, damage to property or death? If not, you’ve got no room for take-off.

Also, keep in mind that Insurance & service agreements are two distinct things: while the policies seem nearly identical and what you get with them is similar, there is a key difference. With insurance, if the insurer has financial troubles paying out, you will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. With service cover, you have less legal recourse if the firm heads for financial difficulties.

Hopefully, your policy explains what it is in clear and concise language. If you are unsure, the provider offering the cover (not always the same as the firm that sells it) should state somewhere that they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – this is insurance. You can check our appliance insurance policy here.