When it comes to water damage, there are two general types; flooding, from rivers and storms, and escape of water, which is flooding as a result of a burst pipe, blocked drain or leak from an appliance.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), escape of water damage is one of the most common types of domestic property damage claims, with insurers paying out £1.8 million for it every day.1 This is also the most frequent type of claim we deal with, and in 2021 they made up over 20% of all the claims we received.
It’s therefore important not to overlook the issue of escape of water, especially because it can cause tremendous damage and disruption to your home and family. Even a small rupture can release gallons of water. In severe cases, you may need to live in alternative accommodation, whilst repairs are undertaken. Personal and sentimental belongings could also be damaged, causing additional anguish.
Our Private Clients claims team is all too familiar with the damage water leaks can cause, “An untraced leak from a burst pipe can cause a devastating amount of damage to a property. We have received claims where ceilings have fallen in due to a leak, causing damage to the property and the client’s furnishings. We also had a claim where a water leak was so severe, it even reached down into the wine cellar, damaging a precious wine collection. That particular claim was settled for around £1million.”
Many escape of water claims happen in winter months, due to pipes freezing and bursting, but leaks can be the result of a number of different reasons, from poorly installed washing machines or dishwashers. Our Private Clients claims team has also seen claims as a result of leaks from underfloor heating, installation of ensuite bathrooms, and where older properties have been renovated, but the existing plumbing wasn’t updated to deal with the new demands. Therefore, escape of water claims are a year-round problem, not just limited to winter months.
So what can you do to help protect your prestige home and valuable possessions from the damage caused by leaks and burst pipes?
Tips to help prevent water damage claims
- Lag pipes and insulate water tanks to help avoid freezing.
- Keep the heating on low if you're away from home during the winter, or install a smart thermostat to help maintain a minimum temperature.
- Keep gutters clear of debris.
- Make sure you know where your stopcock is, so you can turn it off if needed.
- Keep the seals around showers and baths well maintained.
- Check for any visible signs of leaks, from damp patches, flaking paint to brown marks on ceilings.
- If carrying out renovations, ensure existing plumbing can handle the demands of new fittings.
- For homes with basements, check your sump pump works, it’s properly maintained and serviced regularly.
- Install a water leak detection device – these will shut off the water supply in the event of a leak, extremely useful if you spend time at more than one property.
Having adequate home insurance in place is also essential, whilst it won’t prevent water damage from occurring, it can help in dealing with the aftermath. Check your policy to see what ‘escape of water’ covers you for. It’s not just the building that can be damaged, it’s your contents too. It is also worth checking whether ‘trace and access’ cover is included, this covers the costs associated with call-outs to investigate and repair the source of the damage.
At Marsh Private Clients, we know the devastation a water leak can cause. That’s why to help prevent another one from occurring, our clients are covered to install a water leak detection device, as part of the claims process.
If you’re looking for prestige home insurance for your primary residence, your second home or for a renovation project, speak to our Marsh Private Clients team today, who will be able to offer guidance on the level of cover you need to help protect your home and your treasures.