By Remy Maisel
One of the most common home insurance claims is for escape of water – that means damage caused by a water leak – usually from your plumbing or heating system or a home appliance like a washing machine. But what’s covered when you make a claim? And how can you avoid making one in the first place?
The difference between floods and escape of water
When people see lots of water in their house, they might assume it’s a flood – but there’s a technical difference between flooding and escape of water in insurance terms. Flooding happens when the water comes into your house from an external source, like an overflowing river or a burst water main. Escape of water happens when the water comes from inside your house 1.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), escape of water accounts for one in four domestic property claims 2. At Aviva, we see approximately 24,000 escape of water claims per year with an average cost of £3,600 3.
You can cover your building, contents, or both for escape of water, which is defined as water leaking or overflowing from fixed pipes, tanks and other equipment. This cover normally includes escape of water from things like a bath, shower, built-in fish tank, or a plumbed-in home appliance like a washing machine or dishwasher. You can also purchase accidental damage cover, which would protect you from leaks caused by drilling in the wrong place, for example.
With Aviva Buildings Insurance, we also cover:
- damage to fixed pipes, tanks, and equipment caused by water freezing in them
- costs to remove parts of the inside structure (like a wall) to find a hidden leak which has damaged your home. Once the leak has been found and fixed, we’ll pay to make good afterwards. The most we’ll pay for this with our Standard Home cover is £5,000
- outbuildings and annexes which are part of the home
If you’re an Aviva Home Insurance customer and you have a leak, you should call us immediately on 0345 030 6945 with your policy number to hand.
What’s not covered
If a leak is caused by a pipe that was damaged by wear and tear, you’ll likely be asked to pay to repair the pipe as wear and tear isn’t normally covered.
Our standard home insurance policy doesn’t normally cover escape and freezing of water after your home has been left unoccupied for more than 60 days in a row. We may be able to extend your cover after this – please speak to customer services.
Depending on your insurer, you’re probably not covered if water escapes from equipment which isn’t fixed – for example, if you drop a bucket of water. You’ll have to pay an excess for escape and freezing of water claims. You should check your policy document for details of your excess(es).
How to prevent water damage
Luckily, there are ways to prevent or minimise water damage. Here are some things you can do to avoid a costly claim:
- Check for cracked tiles, damaged or missing bath and shower sealant, and grout and replace them if needed
- Check for any visible signs of leaks, like damp patches or brown marks on ceilings.
- Don’t leave taps unattended when they’re running
- Lag pipes which are vulnerable to freezing (like those in the loft).
- Know where your stopcocks are, and test them so you know they’re working if you need to turn them off if there’s a leak
- Get a professional to fit a leak detection device which can monitor your water use and turn off the water if it suspects a leak 4
- If doing DIY, use a pipe detection device to check where pipes are before drilling into the wall
Most insurers, including Aviva, will expect you to take reasonable steps to keep your property in good condition to avoid loss or damage. If you don’t, your insurer may not be able to pay part or all of your claim.