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Escape of water - the second most common household claim

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Claims on home insurance policies for loss or damage caused by escape of water account for more than one in four of all household claims says the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Indeed, it seems that the situation is getting worse, with a 24% increase in the number of such claims during the first nine months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2014, reported the website Insurance Age on the 23rd of November.

The figures for 2017 indicate that insurers paid out more than £483 million in claims – an increase of 1% on the first nine months in 2016.

Escape of water

Extensive damage may be caused to your home through incidents involving an escape of water. Although incidents may stem from a number of problems, there are two principal culprits:

  • burst pipes – following the thaw after pipes have become frozen during a cold snap in the winter time; and
  • leaking appliances or fittings on the plumbing system – which may occur without notice at more or less any time of the year.

Burst pipes 

According to an article in the Readers Digest, the escape of water from a burst pipe may flood your home at the alarming rate of 400 litres an hour.

The obvious solution to preventing such an escape of water from a burst pipe is to prevent the pipe from freezing and rupturing in the first place.

This means careful and extensive lagging of all water pipes and storage tanks, paying especially close attention to bends, joints and fittings. Since you are likely to have spent some time and effort insulating your loft, any exposed pipework in the roof space needs to be separately lagged.

Within your home, aim to maintain an ambient temperature of at least 10 degrees centigrade in every room and keep the central heating boiler at this setting even if you are planning to be away from home for a while.

Leaking appliances 

Many insurance claims involving an escape of water arise from leaks in common appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, boilers and radiators. These leaks may occur at any time, whether or not the appliance is currently switched on or in use.

If you suspect a leak – and before waiting for the obvious tell-tale signs of flooding – it is easy enough to conduct your own test of the integrity of the plumbing system, simply by referring to your water supply meter.

Turn off the water supply both inside and outside your home and make a note of the meter’s reading. Leave everything turned off for a further 15 minutes or so and check the meter reading once again. If this shows that any water has been consumed while the system is turned off, it might be because of a leak somewhere.

Home insurance 

If make a claim on your insurance policy following damage from an escape of water, bear in mind that you are almost certain to need to pay an excess. 

For reasons we discuss in an article which appears in our Knowledge Base, the excess on any escape of water claim may be different too – and generally higher than – the excess on other types of claim on your home insurance.