Trace and access cover will pay the costs of finding a leaking pipe and it’s likely your buildings insurance policy includes it.
Trace and access refers to the detection and uncovering of a leak in the home. It is usually part of a home insurance buildings policy but is not included on every policy as standard.
Although trace and access will cover the location of a leaking pipe, it does not cover the cost of repairing the leak or repairing damage caused by the leak.
The amount covered under trace and access varies.
Out of 383 buildings insurance providers on Defaqto, 64% cover between £5,000 and £9,999.
Only 8% offer unlimited cover, or cover ‘up to a reasonable amount’ - so when you consider that the destructive and reconstructive work of accessing buried pipes could run to thousands of pounds, it’s a good idea to check you’ve got adequate cover on your policy.
Some leaks might be hard to find, but if you spot signs like damp patches on walls or a musty smell, contact an emergency plumber, heating engineer or your utilities company.
They’ll be able to assess where the water is coming from and stop or control the flow.
It’ll be disruptive and expensive, which is where trace and access cover is invaluable.
If your home insurance policy lists an emergency number, call that, and your insurer will send out an approved tradesperson.
Insurers should be flexible about who carries out the work in an emergency. They won’t want you to delay getting help, if it causes more damage to your home.
Make sure the tradesperson only removes what’s necessary to find the leak.
For example, if there’s a leak coming from the sink, but your whole bathroom suite is ripped out, your insurer might not reimburse you.
Also, if part of a matching set is removed and damaged - such as the toilet that matches the bath and basin - your insurer might not agree to replace the rest, unless you’ve got matching set cover.
Most home insurance policies will cover repairs to damaged underground water, gas and sewage pipes that cross your private land to service your home.
Some insurers may not cover pipes that are not on your land, have been damaged intentionally, or degraded gradually due to general wear or tear.
Accidental damage to underground services is covered as standard by 85% of the buildings insurance policies on Defaqto; 13% offered it as an optional extra, and only 1% wouldn’t cover it at all.
Although you’re responsible for repairing services where they cross your property to supply your home, some water companies might offer free repairs to meet their leak-reduction targets.
Most will repair pipe leaks up to your home’s boundaries, but not within the property.
However, your water company doesn’t have to fix leaks on your property, and each company will have different policies, but it’s worth checking as an alternative to a home insurance claim.
If you’ve got a water meter, check your bills as a leaking pipe could mean you’re spending money on water you haven’t used.
 Price savings are based on independent research by Consumer Intelligence, conducted between 1 February to 29 February 2020: It compared 33 insurers from our panel and found 51% could save up to £102.63 with us on their buildings and contents insurance
Last checked 22 January 2020