Originally posted on CMJ Insurance brokers.
Did you know that claims for escape of water have exceeded for fire and burglary in both frequency and cost? Water damage claims account for around 45% of all property damage claims.
With growing trends for homes to be fitted with quality kitchens and additional bathrooms, as well as the increase in popularity of wooden floors, water damage now affects more areas of the home when a claim occurs.
Two examples that CMJ have dealt with in the recent past:
During the cold caused by the Beast from the East, a client’s shower pump in their loft froze. The resulting water ran through two floors of their Grade II listed house, causing extensive damage.
Specialist contractors were required and the claim lasted for over a year.
In July of 2018 a client’s tenant took an extended holiday. During their break, the pressure valve on the boiler ruptured and hot water was pumped through the house over several floors. The claim is ongoing.
If a property is unoccupied, even for only a short break, water damage can be significant and the examples above show that it can happen at any time!
Some insurers apply higher excesses to water claims, and some have added exclusions. For example, badly sealed baths/sinks are considered by some to be a maintenance issue.
Damage isn’t always limited to one property. In blocks of flats, water can escape from an upper floor and cause damage to several floors below. It is often difficult to trace where the water first emanated from, especially in old converted buildings.
It is worth checking what level of cover is available under your policy’s ‘Trace and Access’ section as finding a leak can be lengthy and expensive.
Taking the right precautions can avoid a claim or limit the damage caused.
Here are some simple but worthwhile practices to adopt:
- Switch the heating on for 15 minutes per month in summer to keep the water flowing.
- If freezing temperatures are forecast, keep the heating running at a constant temperature – this not only prevents freezing but can actually be more economical.
- If you are going away during winter, leave the heating on a low constant temperature or have it timed on/off as if you are there. If you are going away for an extended period, leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate. Have a relative or trusted neighbor check your property every few days.
- Insulate pipes with foam sleeving to protect them from cold conditions, especially those in colder areas of the home, such as the loft or an outhouse.
- Have your boiler serviced annually. Check fittings and pipes on washing machines, dishwashers and the like as these can deteriorate over time and perish.
- Invest in a water detection system. These are widely available. They can be simple – such as a device that attaches to the mains pipe with no installation and sends a signal to your mobile phone while monitoring water consumption – to sophisticated systems that monitor average water usage and switch off the incoming water if significant increase in flow is detected.
By taking steps to avoid escape of water, you will potentially save money by not having to fund an increased excess, not facing increased premiums and if on a water meter, you save the potential for increased water bills.
Most of all you will save yourself the heartache and upheaval that water damage can cause, and avoid the potential of having to move out of your own home while repairs are carried out.