We've looked at how insurers describe wear and tear, whether they cover it and if there's anything you can do to prevent it.
Check out our list of the best home insurance companies.
In this article:
- What does wear and tear mean?
- Will home insurance cover wear and tear?
- Why doesn't home insurance cover wear and tear?
- New for old cover
- Does travel insurance cover wear and tear?
- Can car insurance cover wear and tear?
- Wear and tear allowances for landlords
- What can I do about wear and tear?
What does wear and tear mean?
Insurers define wear and tear as gradual deterioration caused by everyday use. Because insurance is designed to cover unexpected or unforeseen circumstances, wear and tear is usually listed as an exclusion.
The definition can apply to parts of your home, possessions, your car or almost any physical object you can insure.
Here's how John Lewis describes wear and tear in a guide to its home insurance policies: "This is the gradual and unavoidable deterioration of your home and its contents over time. It’s simply caused by usage, so wouldn’t be covered by your policy – loose roof tiles or rotten wooden window frames for example. That’s why it’s important to keep your home and contents well maintained. Importantly, if you do need to make a claim, wear and tear may be deducted from the value of an item."
And here's its more technical definition of wear and tear as an exclusion in its policy wording: "Any loss, damage, liability, cost or expense of any kind caused directly or indirectly by or resulting from wear and tear, viruses, disease, depreciation, repairs necessary in the normal course of maintenance, corrosion, rusting, damp, insects, vermin (except for cover under the Home Emergency Option), fungus, condensation, fading, frost or anything which happens gradually, the process of cleaning, dyeing, repair, alteration, renovation or restoration."
Not all companies will have a definition of wear and tear in their documents but if you're concerned about it you could try calling the insurer.
Even a relatively new home is unlikely to be free from wear and tear. As people move about the house, reorganise furniture and even vacuum the floors, small scuffs and grazes will accumulate. This all counts as wear and tear.
Check out Bought By Many's exclusive home insurance offers.
Will home insurance cover wear and tear?
Home insurance policies are unlikely to cover wear and tear.
Insurance companies can reject claims if your roof is in a poor condition, you have rotting wooden window frames, cracked rendering or loose brickwork.
Because these are maintenance issues, you'll often have to fork out for the cost of fixing them yourself.
We couldn't find any instances of home insurance that covered wear and tear. However, some companies will not deduct an amount for wear and tear if a claim was made on something destroyed or lost. This is called new for old insurance and is discussed below.
Why doesn't home insurance cover wear and tear?
Home insurance won't cover wear and tear because it is designed to protect against sudden or unexpected events.
Buildings insurance will cover a fire but it won't cover a roof that is leaking because it's old and hasn't been properly maintained over the years.
If you don't maintain your property or your contents and they wear out or fail, home insurance won't usually cover you. Remember your insurance can cover you for things that are lost or stolen.
New for old cover
Sometimes home insurance will deduct money from a claim due to wear and tear.
For instance, if you claim for a personal possession that has been destroyed, a certain amount of your claim may be deducted due to gradual damage to an item that happened in the past. The reasoning is that the item was not worth what it was when you bought it at the time it was destroyed.
Not all insurance companies or parts of your policy will do this - for instance, Hiscox home insurance doesn't deduct for wear and tear if you're making a claim, but it won't cover for wear and tear in general.
Some policies will replace the item you lost with the latest version of it, this is called new for old cover. Essentially it means you won't lose out because of wear and tear.
Have a look at the companies in our list of the best contents insurance to see which offer new for old cover.
Does travel insurance cover wear and tear?
Generally, travel insurance will not cover wear and tear.
If you are making a claim on your baggage insurance, an amount may be deducted due to wear and tear. Often insurance companies won't pay out the value of a new equivalent.
Check out our list of the best travel insurance companies.
Can car insurance cover wear and tear?
Much like other insurance policies, car insurance policies are unlikely to cover wear and tear.
This is because, much like your home or your contents, over time your car will deteriorate, especially if it isn't maintained properly. Car insurance is generally for unexpected events, like accidents, fires or theft.
Wear and tear in the case of cars usually refers to things like peeling paint or rust, scuffs and rips on the upholstery, worn out mechanical parts and any general maintenance.
If you have a warranty on your car separate from your car insurance, it may cover some costs that arise due to wear and tear. Make sure you check your warranty contract to see what you can claim for.
Find more information on car insurance in our article on the best car insurance companies.
Breakdown cover may be able to help if an ongoing issue suddenly causes your car to stop working.
See our guide to the best breakdown cover providers.
Wear and tear allowances for landlords
Landlord insurance is also unlikely to cover wear and tear. However, there are tax rules that allow landlords to claim back some money they have spent relating to wear and tear.
From 2016 the tax rules about wear and tear changed. Before, landlords with furnished properties could claim 10% each year regardless of whether they actually spent any money replacing furnishings or appliances.
Now, landlords can claim the cost of replacing something that is equivalent in function, as well as the costs of disposing the old item and installing the new one. This new system is called Replacement Relief.
Landlords need to keep a record of costs relating to replacements.
Remember that fair wear and tear means some scuffs and scrapes are to be expected by the end of a tenancy. Landlords won't be able to charge tenants for this.
If the damage is more severe, landlords can often claim the cost of repairs from the tenant's deposit. But they can't charge a tenant for the replacement, repair or cleaning of an item that was already well-used when the tenant moved in.
Read more in our article on the best landlord insurance.
What can I do about wear and tear?
Unfortunately, everything deteriorates over time - nothing is forever! However, you may be able to slow down the effects of wear and tear by making sure the things you own are properly maintained.
With homes, this means making sure your utilities are correctly maintained and checked by a professional once in a while, and ensuring your roof is in good order to prevent leaks.
Try to keep on top of chipped or peeling paint by touching up the walls every year. If you have cracked plaster, try to get someone in to fix it up while it's a minor issue, rather than waiting to have the whole wall replastered.
It's also important to make sure your windows are maintained properly. If you have double glazing and begin to see droplets in between the panes, contact a specialist to fix it, as this may mean the seals are damaged.
Make sure your bathroom is properly ventilated and don't leave droplets of water on surfaces as this can cause mould later on. To prevent your pipes from freezing, it can help to open the entrance to the loft if you're away on holiday.
With your car, it pays to have it checked regularly to make sure everything is in working order and to keep it clean and stored safely to protect against things like rust or damage from the elements. Make sure your electrics are in good working order.
You can also put a little money aside every month to help you pay for things your insurance won't cover. This means if something does happen and you can't make a claim, you'll have a little money to fix things yourself.