Burst pipes and escape of water claims

Every home can fall victim to frozen or burst pipes and without insurance, even a small leak can be costly for homeowners to repair.

Amanda Bathory-Griffiths
Amanda Bathory-Griffiths
Updated 11th August 2020  | 5 min read

What’s escape of water damage?

Escape of water refers to liquid that’s leaked from somewhere inside your home and caused damage.

That might be caused by:

  • A faulty appliance, like a washing machine, dishwasher, or fridge
  • A frozen and burst pipe
  • Old and corroded pipes
  • Blocked drains
  • Disconnected pipes, like the waste pipe from the sink, shower or washing machine

Key points

  • If a pipe bursts and you’re not insured you face paying to access the leak, repair it and fix the damage caused by the water
  • Cover and excess levels vary and may differ or be in addition to your standard home insurance excess
  • Your insurance might not pay out if your pipes aren’t properly insulated (lagged)

Is a water leak covered by home insurance?

When a pipe bursts, there are three typical costs that could arise from it:

  • The cost of locating and accessing the leak
  • The cost of repairing the pipe
  • The cost of the water damage caused by the leak

Each of these costs will be covered by separate elements of your home insurance but you might not have cover for all three as standard features of your policy.

When you find home insurance quotes, read the policy documents to see what protection you'll have. A good insurance policy will cover you for:

Accidental damage and water claims

Accidental damage that causes water escapes might not be covered as standard on your home insurance.

You can have accidental damage cover added to your policy, as an optional extra to cover you for things like accidentally drilling through a pipe, or an overflowing bath.

Claims relating to accidental damage from DIY projects can be a common area of insurance disputes, so make sure you read your documents and check any exclusions.

How to make a claim for a water leak

1. Know what you’re covered for

Your home insurance policy documents will tell you how you’ll be covered for escape of water and trace and access, as well as the excess you’ll have to pay if you need to make a claim.

Some policies state that only tradespeople appointed by your insurer can make repairs, so don’t arrange any work before checking your policy unless it’s an emergency. Otherwise your insurer might not pay out.

Some insurers may also charge a different excess to your standard policy excess for escape of water claims.

2. Call your insurer

Provide details of the water damage and have your policy in front of you to refer to.

During the call note down the date and time, the name of the person you spoke to and what was said. Keep any letters you receive, and copies of letters you send.

3. Find the leak

If the location of the leak is unknown, and you have trace and access cover on your home policy, your insurer can arrange a plumber to find it.

Until the leak is found, your insurer can’t assess how much damage has been caused or the level of repairs needed.

4. Document the damage

Take photos and videos of the damage - you may be asked to provide evidence as part of your claim.

If you have to get any emergency repair work done, keep all the receipts.

5. Arrange loss adjuster meeting

Your insurer will send a loss adjuster to assess the damage and decide what repairs are necessary.

If you need alternative accommodation because your home is uninhabitable, this will be verified by the loss adjuster too.

6. Get quotes for repair work

Your insurer will either arrange for tradespeople to come and repair the damage, or it’ll pay out a settlement so that you can arrange the work yourself.

For the latter, your insurer will expect you to get at least two quotes for the work and is likely to choose the cheapest.

If the water damage occurs due to an overflowing bath or a drilled through pipe, you’ll only be covered if you have accidental damage insurance.

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[1] Based on independent research by Consumer Intelligence during 01 May to 31 May: 51% of consumers could achieve a saving of up to £107.99 with buildings and contents insurance based on a comparison of 36 companies.

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[1] Based on independent research by Consumer Intelligence during 01 May to 31 May: 51% of consumers could achieve a saving of up to £107.99 with buildings and contents insurance based on a comparison of 36 companies.

Page last reviewed: 15 September 2021

Next review due: 15 December 2021

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