Does my home insurance cover water damage?

Storms Ciara and Inés have done their level best to cause flood damage to properties across the Channel Islands in recent weeks, but for many unlucky homeowners water damage can occur within the home. Whether it’s a slow drip or a deluge, the damage can be devastating to your building and possessions, and very expensive to repair. That is why it is important to understand what is covered by your home insurance policy, and what to do if the worst happens.

When it comes to water damage your home insurance usually includes ‘escape of water’, covering damage caused by faulty plumbing or leaky appliances. All policies vary so it’s vital to understand the jargon and what is and isn’t covered as standard.

It’s easy to drown in the terminology of water damage cover. Here we look at the difference between ‘flood damage’ and ‘escape of water’, what your insurance policy may or may not cover, tips on making a claim and the importance of safeguarding your home against water damage.

What is meant by the term ‘Escape of Water’?

For most of us, it’s natural to refer to unwanted water within our home as a ‘flood’, but when it comes to insurance terminology, ‘flood damage’ means that which is caused by outside elements such as rainwater, rising sea/river levels or even sewer flooding. For more information on insuring your property against flooding, please see our blog on storm and flood damage insurance.

For cases of water damage that originate inside the home, the term ‘escape of water’ is used. That includes things like burst pipes, leaking appliances, wear and tear to plumbing and overflowing drains.

In short, wherever there is water in your home that there shouldn’t be due to defective plumbing, that is classed an ‘escape of water’. It is one of the most common insurance claims made by homeowners, so it pays to know what is covered by your policy and how to go about making a claim.

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When it comes to water damage, not all home insurance policies are equal

In the event of an insured ‘escape of water’, your policy will usually cover the cost of repair, any damage to your building, plus the replacement of damaged possessions on a new for old basis. This is, of course, after excess, which can be more for ‘escape of water’ than other sorts of claims. For this reason, do make sure that check before you commit to any work, as with all insurance policy products, there are variations.

For example, sometimes it is not clear where the source of a leak is, which is why it is important to check that your policy includes ‘trace and access’ cover.

This covers the cost of calling out a professional to detect where a leak is coming from. This can be very expensive if the source is hard to find, especially in larger or older properties. When you take out a House and Home Insurance policy with Jersey Mutual, ‘trace and access’ cover is included as standard, including repair to your pipes.

When it comes to accidents – an overflowing bath for example – insurers will not cover it as standard. However, accidental damage is usually offered as an additional extra, so that is something you may wish to consider, especially if you have a large household or young children. Jersey Mutual are happy to discuss this with you if you feel it may be a risk.

What should I do if there is a leak in my home?

It’s easy to panic when your house and prized possessions are under threat from water. The damage can be devastating, even making your home uninhabitable. However, unless you are suffering a serious deluge of water, it is advisable to take a few steps before picking up the phone to the first available emergency plumber.

  1. In the first instance, you should act quickly and take measures to limit the damage as much as possible, such as turning off the water supply and cleaning the affected area to prevent mould.
  2. Providing the leak is contained and the threat is not immediate, it is always best to contact your insurer before work is carried out to confirm exactly what is covered and to what value. Don’t forget to check what the excess is.
  3. If you can, provide pictures or videos of the leak as evidence, as this will help your insurer to make an assessment as soon as possible. Depending on the significance of the damage or leak, a good insurer will send an assessor to your home. They may recommend favoured contractors, but you are entitled to source your own. Jersey Mutual will always send a senior member of staff to visit you when you make a claim.
  4. Other preventative measures include the regular maintenance of your pipes, protecting your pipes against freezing, and avoiding blockages by being mindful of what you put down your drains. Needless to say, always make sure that any work is carried out by an accredited professional.

It is important to understand that as a homeowner, you are responsible for safeguarding against water damage. Negligence on your part may affect any claims you make. Damage to bathroom seals, for example, can be a good excuse for your insurer to reject your claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ‘escape of water’ and ‘flood damage’?

‘Escape of water’ refers to water damage caused within the home, such as burst pipes, and is normally included in your home insurance policy as standard. ‘Flood damage’ is that which is caused by outside elements such as rain and will require a separate policy to be taken out.

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Does ‘trace and access’ cover come as standard?

‘Trace and access’ covers locating the source of a leak. It does not come as standard and does not always include repairing the faulty pipework. Jersey Mutual House and Home Insurance does include trace and access as standard as well as repairs.

How do I make an insurance claim for water damage?

It’s important to act quickly in the case of an ‘escape of water’ within your home. Do your best to limit the damage and call your insurer in the first instance if possible. They may send an assessor to your home, but it’s sensible to take pictures of the damage and source of the leak as evidence. Jersey Mutual will always send a member of staff to visit you when you make a claim.

How can I prevent leaks in my home?

It’s important to take adequate measures to prevent leaks in your home, otherwise, any claims you make could be invalid. The Association of British Insurers provides some useful tips on how to prevent water damage, such as the regular maintenance of pipes, locating your stopcock and only using appliances when you are at home – https://www.abi.org.uk/news/news-articles/2018/12/is-water-damage-covered-by-insurance/

Jersey Mutual can offer you a lifeline when water damage occurs

When you choose to insure your home with Jersey Mutual, ‘escape of water’ and ‘trace and access’ comes as standard, giving you some peace of mind at least when water damage occurs.

We understand how stressful and worrying a leak in your home can be, and we aim to settle your claim as quickly as possible with no lengthy phone queues or delay tactics. We pride ourselves on our personal approach, and you can be assured that we will send a senior member of our team to visit you should the worst happen.

Contact us today and let us offer you a lifeline when water damage threatens your home.

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