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A burst water pipe or leak can leave an expensive mess to clear up – here’s how home insurance can protect you and your wallet
Water damage from a leak or burst pipe is one of the most common reasons for home insurance claims, with insurers in the UK paying out almost £2million a day, according to the Association of British Insurers.
Thankfully many buildings insurance policies offer cover for water damage, also known as ‘escape of water’, as standard. But while your policy may cover the cost of repairing the leak and any damage caused, finding it – known as ‘trace and access’ – isn’t always included.
It’s not just structural damage to consider – if you have contents insurance, the policy should cover the cost of replacing personal items ruined by water damage.
You do need to properly maintain your home though, so take appropriate measures to prevent pipes freezing – if a slow leak causes damage that you should’ve known about and rectified, it could invalidate any claim.
If your policy includes accidental damage, you may be covered for accidents such as an over-flowing bath or accidentally drilling into a pipe.
While not every accident can be avoided, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of a burst water pipe and plumbing leaks.
Freezing temperatures are the main culprit. They cause any water sitting in your pipes to expand and eventually cause a crack. When the ice melts, the water leaks.
High water pressure or a significant increase in water pressure with can also lead to a burst pipe and leaks, as can perished or poorly secured fittings.
Acting fast is key to prevent damage – turn off your stopcock and central heating and try thawing the pipes with a hot water bottle or hairdryer. Do not pour boiling water from the kettle over the pipes or they may crack.
Consider contacting an emergency plumber and call your insurance company. Most provide a 24-hour helpline.
Turn off your water supply and mains electricity and then open your taps to drain the system. Then mop up as much excess water as you can and call your insurance provider.
They may send a loss adjuster to assess the damage and help arrange temporary accommodation for you if required. This may be covered in your buildings insurance, but check your policy to be sure.
Escape of water is not the same as flooding and insurers look at the two differently. Flooding is the term used to describe water in your home that comes from an external source such as a river bursting its banks or a mains supply springing a leak in the road.
Read our guide on how to safeguard your home from flooding.
If you are cut off, the water company must restore your supply within 12 hours or 48 hours if it’s a strategic main pipe.
It must also tell you where you can access an alternative water supply, when your supply will be back up and running and let you know who you can contact for more information.
If this doesn’t happen you may be entitled to compensation of £20 for the first 24 hours and £10 for every following day you’re without main water.
Here are a few of the things you should check:
You may also want to consider ‘track and access insurance’ cover – this will pay for the cost of finding the source of the leak.
After turning off your stopcock, contact your insurer – they usually have helplines that are open 24 hours a day.
They may arrange for a loss adjuster to assess the damage in detail, and in extreme cases arrange alternative accommodation for you.
Your loss adjuster should get in contact within 24 hours, but this might take longer if there are a large volume of claims due to temperatures plummeting.
The loss adjuster will give you an initial assessment and provide an approximate timetable of what needs to be done, who will do it and how long it will take.
Comparing home insurance quotes with MoneySuperMarket is a quick and easy way to find affordable cover for your building and contents. Just tell us a little about yourself, your home and who’ll be living in it, and the kind of cover you need, and we’ll search the market for a list of quotes tailored to your needs.
You’ll be able to compare deals by the overall annual and monthly cost, the cover you’ll get and the excess you’ll need to pay to make a claim. Once you find the deal you want, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
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