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 17 January 2022  | 5 min read

Does buildings or contents insurance cover water damage?

Yes, water damage is usually covered and so is repairing or replacing damaged pipes – out of 322 buildings insurance policies listed on Defaqto[1], 91% cover damage to pipes as standard.

It can either be called ‘water damage’ or ‘escape of water damage’, but both terms mean damage that’s caused by a water source in your home, like a burst pipe or leaking washing machine.

It’s one of the most common types of claims – according to the ABI, insurers pay out £1.8 million every day for water damage claims.

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 accidental damage included in water damage cover?

Accidental damage is a separate aspect of home insurance, but it’s not usually a standard feature. On Defaqto, only 21% of 314 buildings insurance policies offer accidental damage as standard, while 76% offer it as an optional extra.

What are the common causes of burst pipes and water damage?

Clogged pipes can increase the water pressure, which in turn can cause them to burst.

Cold weather is also a common cause of water damage. Water expands when it freezes, which causes pipes to burst.

How to prevent escape of water and water damage in your home

Check your plumbing – pipes, boilers, washing machines, dishwashers, showers, baths, taps and toilets – to make sure it’s in good working order.

If you think there might be a blockage or you have a pipe at risk of freezing, get in touch with a qualified plumber to come and inspect it and work out what needs doing.

Find more tips on how to prevent plumbing leaks in the home.

How to detect a leak in your home

One of the first signs of a leak is a damp patch on the wall, ceiling or floor.

You might also notice that your water pressure is low and that your plumbing is making strange noises. Mould or mildew might bloom and there might be a damp, musty smell.

Check your water bill too – if it’s unreasonably high then it could be due to a water leak.

What to do if you have an escape of water

Turn off the main water supply – there should be a stopcock somewhere in your home, near where the water pipe enters your home from outside.

Get a plumber to come around and provide you with a report. If you have home emergency cover, there will probably be a 24-hour emergency number you can call.

If it’s safe to do so, shut off the power to turn off any nearby electrics. If you’d have to stand in the water to turn off the power supply, get in touch with an electrician first.

Take some photos of the damage if possible and gather as much information as you can, as this will be helpful if you claim on your home insurance.

How can I claim on my home insurance for water damage?

As soon as you have a report from a plumber, get in touch with your home insurer to discuss your claim.

Your insurer will want to know what happened and what the damage is. This is where the plumber’s report, any photos you have and information you recorded at the time of the incident will be needed.

Your insurer might send a loss adjuster to visit your home to assess the damage – this is just to make sure that you and your insurer are not being overcharged for repairs.

Once a cost has been agreed, repair work can start. It’s a good idea to document this process too, just in case there’s an unexpected problem with the work.

Once the work is complete, you’ll probably need to sign a form to say you’re happy with it and then your case will be closed. Your insurer will arrange to pay either the repair company or you, depending on the process outlined in your policy.

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[1] Last checked 16 December 2021