Plumbing and drainage insurance

Protection against plumbing and drainage emergencies isn’t always included in your home insurance policy, but you can usually buy it as an add-on or as a standalone policy.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 21 December 2021  | 4 mins read

What is plumbing and drainage insurance?

It’s a type of protection that covers you for problems with your home’s pipes, drains, toilets and sinks.

This home insurance cover can help with unexpected issues like leaks, blocked drains, and blockages to sinks and toilets.

Sometimes called home assistance or home emergency cover, it can help to pay for the costs of emergency plumbing repairs.

Key points

  • Plumbing and drainage issues aren’t always covered by home insurance so check the wording on your policy
  • You can buy cover for sudden plumbing problems as an add-on or as a standalone policy
  • This is sometimes called home emergency cover and includes emergency call outs and immediate repairs
  • Repairing any damage is often not included, but might be covered by your home insurance

How is plumbing and drainage cover different from home insurance?

Home insurance protects you against damage and loss caused by several events and situations. But it doesn’t cover the event itself.

Plumbing and drainage insurance will cover the cost of getting a registered tradesperson in for emergency repairs, but it won’t cover any damage caused.

Take the example of a leaking pipe. Your home insurance may not cover the cost of calling out an emergency plumber - this usually comes under your plumbing and drainage cover. But home insurance can help with the cost of replacing any water-damaged carpets.

Does my home insurance cover plumbing and drainage problems?

This will depend on your policy, so you’ll need to check your documentation carefully to see what is and isn’t covered.

Your buildings insurance will often cover you for problems like blockages or damage to underground pipes, but it might not cover everything you need.

If you find cover for plumbing and drainage issues isn’t included, you can usually buy this as an add-on to your policy.

Alternatively, you can choose to take out cover in a separate policy. Standalone cover tends to be more comprehensive, but also more expensive than an add-on to your policy.

Do I need this cover?

It’s your responsibility to fix problems with the drains and pipes on your property. So, it’s worth checking what you’re covered for and deciding whether you want extra protection.

While your home insurance will protect you against certain issues, if you’re not covered for plumbing and drainage emergencies you could end up out of pocket when there’s a problem.

Most buildings insurance policies include cover for damage to underground drains and pipes that bring water to your home and take sewage away.

But some insurers won’t include it as standard and instead will give you the option to buy this as an add-on to your policy.

What if I’m a tenant or letting my property?

Fixing issues like burst pipes and looking after the drains and water supply will be your landlord’s responsibility.

If you’re a landlord, having plumbing and drainage insurance for your rental property can help you recoup the costs of emergency call outs and get the problem fixed quickly.

As a tenant, it’s worthwhile taking out contents insurance. This can help cover the cost of repairing or replacing your items if they’re damaged due to something like a leak.

What does plumbing and drainage insurance cover?

This typically covers the cost of emergency call out fees, labour and parts for a range of problems that might need urgent repairs.

Standard plumbing and drainage insurance generally includes cover for:

  • Repairs to gas boilers or central heating
  • Leaking pipes
  • Blocked drains
  • Sink and toilet blockages
  • Leaks or blockages to your water supply pipe

There are usually different levels of cover you can take out that increase in price depending on what’s included.

Some policies offer unlimited cover while others will cap the amount they’ll pay out or limit the number of emergency call outs you can make.

It’s worth double checking what the limits and exclusions are.

What isn’t covered?

Many policies won’t cover pipes that leak because they’re old and corroded, or blockages and issues that have been caused by poor upkeep or faulty plumbing.

Typical exclusions include:

  • Blocked guttering
  • Shared drains
  • Pipes owned by neighbours
  • Dripping taps
  • Boilers that haven’t been maintained or are more than 10 years old
  • Faulty plumbing or previous work that hasn’t been done correctly
  • If you’ve got more than one toilet, a blocked loo may not be considered an emergency

Is it worth getting plumbing and drainage cover for my home?

To make sure you’re not taking out more cover than you need, you’ll need to check the wording of your home insurance to see what’s already included.

Some home insurance policies and buildings cover will include an element of emergency cover as standard, so make sure you won’t be buying duplicate insurance.

If you’re not covered, and you want to be protected against unexpected emergencies, then taking out insurance is a good way of providing some peace of mind.

Most common plumbing and drainage issues

  1. Burst pipes

    This is one of the most common causes of water damage to homes. To help prevent this from happening, protect your pipes. Make sure pipes and water tanks are insulated and heating is kept on low when you’re away for long periods in the winter.

  2. Blocked drains

    Having a blocked drain can be a real pain. What you do and don’t put down your sink can make a real difference. So avoid putting any oils or grease down that can go hard and form fat blocks which clog up the pipes and block drains.

  3. Blocked toilets

    No one wants to have this issue, especially if you have a family living at home and only one loo. To minimise the chance of this happening be careful what you flush down the toilet, many ‘flushable’ wipes can actually block toilets.

  4. Cracked or displaced pipes

    Using pipes to hang bags, clothes, or even indoor hanging plants off can end up causing big problems. Putting any additional weight on pipes can cause them to warp or crack and spring a leak.

  5. Tree roots affecting the pipe

    This can cause a pipe to collapse or cause a blockage. Often tree root intrusion will be covered by your home insurance but policies vary. To avoid any damage or making a claim, check your drains regularly and keep an eye on nearby plantlife.

Some plumbing and drainage policies limit how much you can claim, and others don’t include major work, like opening up the wall to get to a damaged pipe. If the problem has also caused damage to your home – for example, water damaged floors – you’ll need to claim on your home insurance for that instead.
Ceri McMillan - Home insurance expert

Will claiming on plumbing and drainage cover affect my no-claims bonus on home insurance?

If you’ve got home emergency cover included as part of your home insurance and you make a claim, this may affect your no-claims discount (NCD).

But if you buy the insurance as an add-on to your policy or as standalone cover, any claim you make shouldn’t affect your main home insurance policy.

However, if you need to make a claim on your home insurance because of the damage the problem has caused it will count against your NCD.