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Guide to escape of water

Escape of water

What is escape of water?

Escape of water is the term used by insurance providers in relation to damage caused by a water leak within your property. Common causes are faulty appliances, burst pipes, and dripping taps. Escape of water is one of the most common home insurance claims and even a small leak can cause significant damage to your property over time.

In this guide, we explore what is covered under escape of water on your insurance and what you can do to reduce the risk in your property.

Is escape of water the same as flooding?

Most people will refer to an influx of water into their property as a flood, regardless of where the water came from. However, the two terms cover different types and causes of damage under an insurance policy. Flooding is when water enters the house from an external source, this could be from a burst water main or a river. Escape of water is caused by a leak from a source within your property.

Is escape of water covered under your buildings or contents insurance?

Escape of water cover will normally be included on both buildings and contents insurance. However, you will normally be required to pay a higher excess for a claim of this type, typically £250.

What you are claiming for will determine which insurance policy you’re covered under. For example, if an overflowing bath has soaked through the ceiling and damaged a TV in the room below, then you would be covered by a contents insurance policy for replacement of the TV. Whereas the damage to the floorboards would be covered under your buildings insurance.

It is advisable to take out both a contents and buildings insurance policy for your home to ensure that you are covered for all types of damage caused by escape of water. For landlords, it is recommended to take out contents insurance if you are providing any furniture with the property, otherwise your tenant will be able to take out their own contents insurance policy for their possessions.

What is covered under an insurance policy for escape of water?

If you are covered for both buildings and contents on your home or landlord insurance, usually all resultant damage will be covered. As mentioned above, the policy you claim on will depend on what has been damaged by the escape of water. It is important to let your insurer know of any damage as soon as possible so as not to delay the claims process.

What isn’t covered?

Policies that do not have ‘accidental damage’ included will not cover the cost of repair if it’s due to something that you have caused. Your buildings or contents policy will still cover the cost of the resultant damage, though. For example, if you accidentally drilled into a pipe, you would be expected to pay for the repair, and the insurer would pay for damage done to the flooring, fixtures, and fittings.

Accidental damage cover is an optional extra available on most policies; if you have this cover then your insurer would normally pay out for both the repair and the damage.

It’s important to bear in mind that your policy also won’t cover you for escape of water due to wear and tear, a gradual problem that has developed over time, or lack of maintenance, for example a leaking pipe joint which has been left to deteriorate.

There can also be other items excluded from escape of water cover on your policy, so it’s important to check the terms carefully. Often these can be:

  • Dripping taps;
  • Cesspits, septic tanks, and associated fittings;
  • Any escape of water outside of the property that is not causing damage to the interior of the property or its contents.

Most home insurance policies will not cover properties that have been left unoccupied for more than 60 days at a time. If your property is going to be empty for a prolonged period, you will need to change to unoccupied property insurance which will provide cover for escape of water providing certain conditions are met.

Read more: How to keep your unoccupied home safe

How common are escape of water claims and how much are they?

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), escape of water accounts for 26% of domestic property claims. On average, the cost of a claim on a home insurance policy was in the region of £7,500 last year.

Are certain types of property considered higher risk?

Regular checks are key to preventing escape of water so properties that are often left unoccupied for long periods of time could be considered higher risk as the homeowner isn’t there to notice any issues. This can also be the case for second and holiday homes.

Rental properties may also be considered at higher risk of escape of water as tenants might not notice, or report, leaks within the property.

What are common causes of escape of water?

Escape of water in the property is often caused by:

  • Leaking taps
  • Faulty appliances
  • Burst pipes
  • Overflowing baths
  • Blocked toilets
  • Leaking radiators
  • Faulty boilers

DIY gone wrong is one of the most common causes of escape of water. If you’re carrying out maintenance on your own property, then make sure you are thorough, are aware of any pipes in the area you are working on and have turned off the water supply prior to doing any work.

If you are getting work done by a professional, make sure they have had the relevant training and belong to an association. You can call the association, or you may be able to check if they’re a member online.

How to find a leak or escape of water

Finding a leak early is essential to ensuring as little damage as possible is caused to your property.

If you suspect a leak in your property, then you can perform a simple leak check by turning off your water supply and recording the water meter reading. Check the meter again after 15 minutes and see if the meter has recorded any water use. If it has then there might be a leak which will need further investigation.

Spotting a leak can often be obvious, damp patches or brown marks on ceilings, or puddles around appliances, but sometimes it may require investigating by digging up floors or making holes in walls. This would be covered under the Trace and Access section in your policy.

How can you reduce the risk of escape of water?

Ensuring the structure and appliances within your property is well maintained is essential to reduce the risk of escape of water and a costly claim.

The following can be done to help minimise escape of water:

  • Insulate pipes to help prevent freezing or burst pipes and regularly check for any signs of wear and tear.
  • Check for damage to bathroom and kitchen tiles, or decayed sealant.
  • Test your stopcocks so you know they’re working should you need to turn them off in case of a leak.
  • Regularly check appliances for leaks and damage.

What devices are on the market to help?

A leak detection device monitors your water use and can turn the water off if it suspects a leak. It can detect the smallest of leaks so hopefully you can identify it before it becomes a problem.

One example is LeakBot. LeakBot is simple for the homeowner to install and will alert you to any changes in the flow of the water via an app.

If you’d like a more advanced device, Leak Safe may be more suited. This device is specially designed for your property and is fitted by a professional. There are lots of options on the market, it is best to do your research to find a product that suits your requirements and budget.