Have you ever wondered what “glass breakage” means in your insurance policy? When it comes to insurance, glass breakage is less about smashing the Waterford crystal and more about shower screens shattering.
So just what is meant by glass breakage in your landlord insurance policy? When is there cover – and when isn’t there? Let us start with what is meant by “glass”.
Fixed glass like windows, doors, skylights, shower screens, mirrors fixed to the property (for example, built-in wardrobes) and any other glass fitted to the property. It also covers porcelain/ceramic bathroom fixtures, like the shower base, sink, bath, lavatory pan and cistern.
If the contents of the property are insured (by this we mean contents supplied by the landlord, for example in a fully furnished home), glass also includes glass that forms part of any item of furniture, like a coffee or dining table, kitchen cabinets, wardrobe, dressing table or display cabinet.
Top tip: Contents cover refers to property owned by the landlord and not owned by tenants. Renters need their own contents cover to protect their personal possessions.
Glass doesn’t mean...
Glass in television sets, radios, visual display units or any other computer or electrical equipment or mobile phones. It also does not cover glass in picture frames or clocks. If these are damaged, by accident or maliciously, then they may be covered under those sections of a contents insurance policy. As for glass objects like drinkware, ornaments or vases, these also aren’t “glass” for the purpose of glass breakage insurance. Brittle items are usually not covered for damage under contents insurance either.
So what is glass breakage?
We are talking about fixed glass (or bathroom fixtures) that is damaged. The damage may have been caused by accident, for example a backyard cricket match sees a ball smash the sliding door, or a heavy book is dropped through the glass coffee table. The damage could also be caused by a malicious act, either by a tenant who, for example, seeks revenge on the landlord by taking to the bathroom suite with a hammer, or by a stranger, for example a vandal breaking all the garage windows. It also covers damage caused by an insured event, like a storm, for example, if hail destroys a skylight, or a tree topples through the conservatory.
Insurance for glass breakage covers the costs to repair or replace the damaged item or area.
Top tip: There is a clause in insurance policies that relates to preventing further damage and loss. If glass is broken, the policyholder needs to take reasonable steps to try to stop more damage happening. For example, if a skylight is broken, a tarp could be put up to stop rain getting in. Or if a window is smashed, the broken pane could be boarded up. It is important to secure the premises quickly, so emergency repairs may need to be organised. Making sure anyone entering the premises is safe is important too, so broken glass needs to be removed and any safety risk, like jagged glass, seen to so tenants or visitors do not risk getting cut. Professional glaziers are best equipped to handle this and landlords should not ask tenants to try and remove or repair broken glass (it might be considered knowingly endangering the tenant, which could have repercussions for liability or professional indemnity insurance claims).
What is not covered?
The damage to fixed glass must be significant. If the item is simply chipped or scratched, or the crack does not extend through the entire thickness, then it is not generally covered.
The cover does not include damage to any other property, except for window tinting or shatter-proofing (if this was already in place at the time of the loss), other than the broken glass. Frames (window, door, shower screen) may be covered if it is necessary to enable the glass to be replaced.
It is also important to understand that cover applies when the glass is broken due to an unforeseeable event or occurrence, for example an accident or weather event. This means cover is only available if the item that is damaged was not already chipped or scratched before it was broken. For example, the shower screen was already cracked and a bump by the tenant results in it breaking completely. In this case, a lack of repair/maintenance contributed to the damage, so it probably will not be covered.
Top tip: Damaged glass fixtures can pose liability risks if they break and cause injury or damage to property. Landlords should keep on top of maintenance issues (maintaining the premises is a requirement for property insurance coverage) and ensure they have adequate legal liability cover.
Clear as glass
To recap, EBM RentCover may cover the costs to repair or replace fixed glass, bathroom fixtures or glass that is part of a piece of furniture that has been damaged due to unforeseen events like a domestic mishap or storm. We do not cover “portable” glass, like drinkware (which is rarely insurable) or glass in electronic goods (contents insurance is needed for that).
Both RentCover Ultra and RentCover Platinum offer cover for glass breakage (read your PDS to find out exactly what is and isn’t covered). If you need to make a claim for broken glass, our expert care team is here to help – 1800 661 662.
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.