27th July 2021

Escape of water insurance guide

Finding water where it shouldn’t be in your home is cause for alarm bells to start ringing. Water can be extremely damaging, whether it’s from a small drip that accumulates over time or a large influx of water at once. As one of the most common types of home insurance claim in the UK, many turn to their policies for cover in the event of this type of damage.

What is an escape of water?

An escape of water happens when the water damage has come from a burst pipe or leaking appliance within the home. This is not limited to your own home; it could come from a neighbour’s home or the floor above in a block of flats.

These claims are so common because nearly every home in the UK contains appliances such as washing machines and central heating, which are all liable to malfunction and a subsequent escape of water.

Common causes of an escape of water

Cold weather – there is an increase in burst pipes during winter. That’s because, when the temperatures reach freezing point, the water in the pipe freezes and expands, causing the pipe to split. When the water thaws, it escapes through the damaged pipe.

Blocked pipes – if waste pipes from appliances become blocked, the blockage can cause a build up of pressure that can damage the seal and cause a leak.

Faulty appliances – it’s normal for appliances to break, but when they are water based, the damage can spread. Using cheap or faulty parts to fix appliances can also lead to further damage as they can break more frequently.

Poor DIY – it can be tempting to opt for a DIY approach to plumbing, but if you’re not a professional you can make mistakes that ultimately lead to an escape of water.

Hidden pipes – small leaks in hidden pipes are harder to spot so they can build up over time to create a lot of damage.

Why isn’t it called flooding?

For insurance purposes, the term ‘flooding’ refers to something different. Floods happen when the water damage is caused by events outside of the home, which can include:

  • River flooding – caused by a river bursting its banks from heavy precipitation or a blockage, this includes flash flooding which occurs after a large amount of rain in a short period of time
  • Coastal flooding – usually occurs during heavy storms
  • Sewer flooding – occurs when the water can’t be channelled away from an urban area fast enough
  • Groundwater flooding – when water levels beneath the ground rise to too close to the surface, often after heavy rain

Before making an escape of water insurance claim

Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of experiencing an escape of water in your home, your insurance should cover the costs. Not all policies cover everything; different parts of your policy cover you for different types of damage, so be sure to check what type you have. If you are unsure, get in touch with us for more information.

Before you begin to make an insurance claim, you should take immediate action to prevent any further damage. If you know you have a leak, turn off the main water supply. This will stop the water spreading any further and creating more damage.

For severe cases you may have to turn off the power and move any electrical appliances. We recommend that you take some photos of the damage and potentially call a plumber to assess it before making your insurance claim.

The process of making an escape of water insurance claim

Step one: Decide whether you want to use a Loss Assessor. They’ll work on your behalf to handle the insurance claim (but they’re not compulsory).

Step two: Inform your insurance company and secure your building. Not only do you need to protect your neighbours’ homes from damage, you also need to ensure that anyone entering your home is safe – water damage may have caused further problems to the electrical safety or structural integrity of the building.

In the event of a severe case of an escape of water, you may need to seek out temporary accommodation if your home is no longer habitable as a result of the water damage.

Step three: Meet with a Loss Adjuster. They initiate an investigation, assess the damage and provide a report along with a recommendation for your claim. This is separate to the Loss Assessor who, if you decided to use one, would be present to help you through this process.

Step four: Fix your home. Depending on the severity of the situation, your home may just require time to dry out and a thorough clean. This may take several weeks; floors and walls need sufficient time to fully dry.

Step five: Appoint a qualified Chartered Surveyor to assess the work needed for the reinstatement of your home and choose the contractors that will repair your home if the damage is severe and construction is required. This includes replastering and other cosmetic repairs, but you’ll need to wait until everything is completely dry.

Step six: Claim for lost or damaged contents. You will be required to make an inventory of all the items lost and the value of each in order to determine the compensation or replacement you can receive for them.

Further meetings will happen with the Loss Adjuster and Surveyor to discuss and settle the claims. It can be quite a long process but by the end you should be able to move back into your newly secured home with agreed payments to cover the repairs, temporary accommodation costs and contents lost.

How to prevent escape of water

Both the process of experiencing damage from an escape of water, as well as claiming through your insurance for it, can be tedious. To avoid both, there are some things you can do to prevent an escape of water happening in the first instance:

  • Protect your pipes – ensure your pipes are insulated correctly to prevent them from freezing.
  • Upgrade old appliances – regular maintenance and replacement of appliances is key to preventing an escape of water. This includes the connecting components too.
  • Have good air circulation – particularly important for the bathroom and kitchen where there is often more moisture.
  • Control the temperature – even if you are going away for a while, don’t turn your heating off completely. Set it to between 12 and 15 Celsius.
  • Look out for signs – poor water pressure, condensation and mould are all signs of escaping water. The sooner you spot an issue, the more you can control and limit the damage.

Conclusion

There are things you can do to prevent an escape of water (unlike flooding), so ensure you maintain your house and appliances. If the unfortunate does happen, your insurance provider is there to support you, and although it is a long process to repair the damage, it will help you get you back in your home. If you have any questions or want to know more about escape of water insurance claims, contact us today.

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