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Home Insurance - Dealing With Water Damage

Dealing with water leaks in your home is always stressful and time consuming. So the next time you buy a home insurance policy, check the additional covers and exclusions carefully....

Some home insurance policies can also assist homeowners in situations where water is leaking and needs an emergency fix. We thought the following readers anecdotal experience would provide an interesting perspective, to highlight the issues involved water damage and insurance claims. We hope it gets you think about discovering whether your home insurance company might be able to assist you, in minimising the potential impact of a water damage related home insurance claim...

"I recently had a leak in my bathroom, under the shower unit, but at first we did not know exactly where the leak was coming from. The first sign of damage was when a damp patch slowly appeared in the ceiling below in the living room.

At first we thought it was the radiator, and so my husband , not wanting to call anyone out to fix a simple leaking radiator, tried to fix the problem himself. However, we later found that the damp patch on the ceiling was continuing to get bigger, we had sprayed it with some damp protecting spray, but the shadow of damp was definitely still visible and appeared to be growing.

At that point we realised we would probably have to call in a plumber to ascertain the source of the leak. We did not know who to call as we were relatively new to the area, and so as we had emergency home cover, I suggested we call the insurance company, who must have a list of approved plumbers that they could recommend.

As it was not classed as an emergency they were not able to provide a name of a reliable plumber, and so I found myself being advised by that insurance company to call my home insurance company, which we had really wanted to avoid as we did not really want to claim on the household insurance for fear of pushing up our premiums in the following year.

However, the home emergency insurers advised that it was the best course of action, as you should tell insurance companies of incidents, even if you do not wish to claim. This I duly did, hoping they would be able to send someone who would be able to find out where the leak was coming from and fix it.

When I rang the claims department though, I was told that although any resultant damage would be covered, the cost of trying to find where exactly the leak was coming from would not be covered, and also, any damage caused in trying to trace the leak and then put that damage right would not be covered either, only the damage to the floor boards and the ceiling would be covered.

I was told I did not have “trace and access” cover in my policy, and therefore only the consequential damage costs were covered, not trying to find where the leak was originally coming from. Additionally, the insurance company advised that my excess for the actual water damage, was £200 rather than the standard £100 on the rest of the policy, this was because at renewal last year they advised that they wrote to all customers to advise of the change of excess and it was clearly stated in the policy.

I checked my policy wording and what they told me is correct, however at the time I had not paid too much attention to the changes to the policy, I was only interested in the overall premium. The insurance company advised that many insurers are putting up their excesses for water damage, because of an increase in the costs of these types of claims, homes having more than one bathroom, built in shower units, and hard flooring making the likelihood and the severity of these types of claims worse.

The plumber that they sent around to access the leak and repair the leak was very good, and in fact I was glad that we had insurance at least to gain access to a reliable plumber. We then however had to wait for another tradesman to come out, a plasterer to fix the damage to the ceiling. We have used the same plumber to fix the tiles and the shower unit back in place after having to remove them to find the leak, but of course we had to fund this ourselves, along with the excess for the ceiling damage too."

So the next time you're looking for an online home insurance quote, remember to ask your insurance broker or insurance company whether the policy is set up to assist in dealing with emergency water leaks. Probably the highest number of claims come from water damage. So insurance companies are well versed in dealing with these types of problems.

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