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Is water damage covered by insurance?

Insurance Questions Answered: 

Will my insurance cover damage caused by a burst pipe or a leak?

Water damage to your property is usually covered as a standard feature in your buildings insurance policy. 

Often referred to as Escape of Water, it can be caused by several issues, from burst pipes due to freezing temperatures, to a leaking dishwasher or an overflowing blocked toilet.

Escape of Water is different from flooding though, as flooding is the term insurers use to describe water in your home that comes from an external source (e.g. burst mains on your road, or river or sea flooding).

Escape of water damage is one of the most common types of domestic property damage claims, with insurers paying out £1.8 million for it every day.

If you need to claim, your insurer may cover the cost of locating, accessing and repairing the leak, as well as the cost of any water damage restoration. However ‘trace and access’ cover or ‘Home Emergency’ cover isn’t always offered as standard, so you may want to check if your policy includes these. If you have contents insurance, the policy should cover the cost of replacing contents that was damaged by the Escape of Water.

If you have purchased a policy which includes ‘accidental damage’ you may also be covered for accidents such as over-flowing baths or accidentally drilling into pipes too.

Most policies will exclude any damage that is caused by not properly maintaining your property or by preventable damage such as a slow, gradual leak. The best way to avoid this is by keeping your pipes properly maintained all year round, fixing any leaks you discover immediately, and by protecting your property against frozen pipes in cold weather.

How can I prevent burst pipes and water damage in my home?

Sometimes a burst pipe can be caused by cold weather, when water in the pipes freeze and expand, breaking the pipe. You can find out how to combat frozen pipes here.

The best ways to maintain your pipes all year round are:

1. Stopcocks – know where these are and make sure that you test them regularly as they often seize up. If there is an escape of water / water leak in your home, turning off the stop cock asap can help to limit the level of damage caused. Find out more about stopcocks here. 

2. Consider fitting a leak detection device which will monitor your usual water use and turn off the water if it suspects a leak. Use a plumber or a professional to install these types of devices. Some insurers may offer help with the installation of a leak detection device and may also take this into account when pricing your cover.

3. Get a professional to install any new appliances which require plumbing.

4. Where possible, regularly check the pipes where your appliances are plumbed in for any looseness, leaks or drips. In areas where pipes are covered but that you still have access to (e.g. behind removable bath panels, toilet cistern panels and underneath kitchen units, where accessible,) it’s a good idea to take a look every now to make sure there aren’t any small leaks which could become major. 

5. Consider what you are putting down your drain, and make sure that you clean drains regularly if you suspect a blockage. Substances such as fats and oils from cooking, produce stickers, baby wipes, sanitary products and even hair can all cause clogs in drains and toilets. You can see a comprehensive list of what not to put down the drain here.

6. Its best to use appliances when you are at home as opposed to setting them on a timer – that way if there is a major deluge of water or leak, you will spot it before it damages your home.

7. Check for leaks from taps, toilets, sinks, baths and showers and make sure you replace any damaged sealant, tiles or cracked shower trays as soon as you spot it.

8. If you are doing any drilling/DIY, make sure you know where any water pipes are before you put that drill into the wall (you can get a stud finder to help you locate them). 

9. You can use your water meter to check for any leaks – make sure nothing is using any water in the property, then turn your stopcock off and note the reading. Check again after 1-2 hours to see if the meter reading has changed. If so, it’s likely that there is a leak somewhere.

10. When leaving the property unoccupied for any length of time, it's best to shut down the water supply if you are able to and it is safe to do so. 

Last updated 07/12/2018