What is plumbing and drainage cover?
Plumbing and drainage cover, sometimes called home emergency cover, is insurance that covers a range of problems including:
- Blocked drains
- Toilets and sinks
- Leaking pipes
- Leaks and blockages to your water supply
Do I need plumbing and drainage cover?
Check the terms and conditions of your existing buildings insurance to see whether you’re covered. If not, then you may be able to buy plumbing and drainage cover as an add-on to your policy. Alternatively, some insurers offer standalone policies that are usually more comprehensive, but are also often more expensive.
If you’re a homeowner or a landlord then you’ll be responsible for the plumbing at the property, so having insurance is sensible should anything go wrong. This isn’t just because it might otherwise cost a lot to put right, but because you’ll often want to act fast to prevent damage to the rest of the property.
If you’re a tenant, then the drains, water supply, boiler and heating systems are all your landlord’s concern. Once you inform them there is a problem they should get it fixed in a timely fashion – and as soon as possible if it’s an emergency.
However, as a tenant you may still want to think about contents insurance. This will ensure that you’ll be covered if there’s a leak in the property that damages your belongings.
Does my home insurance cover plumbing and drainage problems?
Your buildings insurance is likely to cover you for some plumbing and drainage issues, but may not be as comprehensive as you would want or need.
A good buildings insurance policy should protect you against blockages and damage to underground pipes and cables bringing water, gas and electricity to your home and taking sewage away from the property. It should also cover the cost of tracing, accessing and repairing a leak.
Additionally, the policy may provide an emergency helpline number to ring should anything go wrong, and the assurance that an approved tradesperson will turn up to fix the problem.
However, not everything may be covered as standard. A blockage due to a pipe collapsing, or tree roots pushing into the sewer, might not be covered – and many policies won’t cover pipes that just leak because they are old and corroded.
What does plumbing and drainage insurance cover?
Home insurance companies offer different levels of cover, with the more comprehensive policies being more expensive.
Basic cover usually starts with insuring against block drains and disruption to the water supply pipe into the property.
It’s always best to read fully through the terms to make sure you know what you’ll be covered for, but the most comprehensive policies may extend to all the following:
- Fixing gas boilers or central heating
- Mending mains services ie. gas, water and electricity
- Plumbing and drainage repairs to a blocked sewer or toilet
- Sorting out security after a break-in or vandalism to your home
- Repairing roofing, such as missing or damaged roof tiles
- Removing pest infestations, such as rats or wasps’ nests
Look for policies that only use a network of quality-approved plumbers with parts, labour and call-outs included.
Make sure that an emergency 24/7 helpline number is also provided, as problems often need fixing urgently to prevent more damage.
It’s worth looking out for any upper limits for claims and whether there is a maximum number of claims allowed per year under the policy.
What might plumbing and drainage insurance not cover?
There will often be exclusions, which underlines the importance of checking the terms of your policy.
Many plumbing and drainage policies only cover the cost of call-out and repairs to the immediate issue. You should check whether your home’s contents will be covered for any damage caused by a leaking pipe or overflowing drain.
Other exceptions might include:
- Day-to-day maintenance
- Gas boilers and central heating systems which haven’t been maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
- Boilers over 10 years old and those without proof of an annual service
- Dripping taps and the results of hard water scaling deposits
- Pest infestations in outbuildings or gardens
- Blocked guttering
Is plumbing and drainage cover worth it?
You should first check that the home insurance you already have in place doesn’t cover you sufficiently, or you’ll be paying twice for the same cover.
As with all insurance you need to weigh up the costs, both of the premiums and how much you’d have to pay to make the repairs yourself.
If you decide you want plumbing and drainage cover, compare the cost of a standalone policy with the extra your insurer will charge to add it on to your existing policy.
What are the most common drainage problems?
Some of the most common drainage problems include:
- Displaced or broken joints
- Fractures and cracks
- Root intrusions
- Collapsed sections of pipe
How can I solve my drainage problem?
It depends on the nature of the problem.
- Use a plunger: A plunger creates a seal around a plug hole and uses the pressure of air and water to try to dislodge any objects. If you’re using it in the bath or sink, fill up the basin with 2-3 inches of water and temporarily block up any connecting pipes to help increase the pressure
- Use rods: If it’s a blocked pipe then you may be able to free the blockage using drainage rods that feed into the drain and work through the blockage
- Use chemicals: You might be able to poor industrial chemicals down the plughole to unclog the debris. An eco-friendly method is to use vinegar, baking soda, and water
- Call a tradesperson: Some plumbing issues may prove too difficult or dangerous to access and fix, and so it’s time to call in the professionals. If you have cover in place, your insurer should take care of it for you
Will I lose my no claims bonus if I make a plumbing and drainage claim?
Some insurers will allow you to use your plumbing and drainage cover and still keep the no-claims discount on your main home insurance.
However, insurers and policies differ, so make sure you are aware how using your home emergency cover will affect your insurance.
Do I need to pay excess to claim?
As with most insurance policies you can reduce your premiums by agreeing to pay a higher excess – the amount you agree to contribute to any claim before the insurance kicks in.
The amount of excess is set out when you first take out the policy. Along with the premiums, and knowing exactly what’s covered in the terms, it’s something to consider before buying your plumbing and drainage insurance.
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