Home → Insurance→

Claiming on House Insurance for a Water Leak: Tips & Advice

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated November, 14, 2022

Most home insurers cover water leaks as standard—in fact, escape of water is one of the most common home insurance claims in the UK. However, there are certain exclusions. 

Continue reading to find out more about claiming on house insurance for a water leak, from what your policy covers to what to do if your claim is rejected. 

What types of water damage are covered by insurance? 

Most of the top-rated home insurance companies in the UK cover water damage (or escape of water as it is called in policy documents) that has been caused by burst pipes, boilers, appliances, your shower or toilet. 

That said, most insurers will only cover damages caused by the leak rather than pay for fixing the issue. So if your floors are damaged due to a water leak from a broken dishwasher, the insurer might pay for the damage to the floors, but not to repair your faulty dishwasher. 

All insurance products are not the same though, so before you make a home insurance claim on a water leak, check if your policy includes the following:

Home emergency cover

Home emergency insurance is an add-on that covers the cost of unplanned expenses. For instance, if you have a water leak from your boiler, this insurance policy will pay for the labour, parts and repairs.

Does home insurance cover boiler replacements and repairs? Find out here.

Trace and access cover

This insurance product will pay for finding and uncovering the source of the leak, as well as damages caused while trying to locate the issue. Sometimes the source is obvious, such as a leaking roof, but other times you might have to take out flooring or drill a hole in the wall to find where the leak is coming from. Trace and access won’t cover the damages from the leak (you will need to claim on your main policy for this), but it can help you save a lot of money if floors or walls need to be dug up to trace the leak. 

Trace and access cover is sometimes included as standard (usually up to £5000), although most of the time it is offered as an optional add-on along with alternative accommodation (paying for the cost of a place to stay if the home becomes uninhabitable)

Accidental damage cover

Most insurers will not pay out for a water leak you caused unless you have accidental damage insurance. This feature covers damages you have contributed to, by say drilling a hole in the pipe during a DIY project or by overfilling the sink, causing the room to flood. 

Contents cover

If you have taken out contents insurance in addition to buildings coverage (or bought them as a combined insurance product), any damages to furniture and carpets will be covered. 

Policies vary from one provider to the next. For example, most of the best landlord insurance policies will include accidental damage as standard, while that may not be the case for homeowners’ insurance products. It is important to carefully read the wording of the policy—if you are not crystal clear on what it covers, talk to the insurer before taking out home coverage.

When is a water leak not covered by insurance?

If there is a water leak in your home that is caused by regular wear and tear, poor upkeep or negligence, for instance, if you ignore a slow leak, overfill the bath or block the drains by disposing of unsuitable items, your insurer is not likely to cover the damages. 

Your insurance will also not cover damages caused by leaking water that could have been avoided if the homeowner had reacted sooner. For example, if an issue like a slow drip was allowed to turn into a major problem or if the homeowners have not taken steps to minimise the damage from the leak, such as turning off the water supply instantly. On that note, home insurers also require that the home is occupied for at least 30 to 60 days prior to the incident. 

Should you claim for a water leak on your insurance?

In most cases claiming on house insurance for a water leak can reimburse you for part or all of the damages. However, it is not always the best idea.

Whether you should make a claim depends on 

  • The scale of the water leak and the damage caused 
  • The level of excess you would have to pay on your insurance
  • Your no-claims bonus terms 

For instance, if the damage is not that serious, claiming on house insurance for water leak might not be worth it. 

For one, you will not be able to claim unless the cost of the claim is lower than the excess you are required to pay (which tends to be higher for ‘escape of water’ as this is the most common insurance claim in the UK). Secondly, insurers look at your claims history when calculating your home insurance premium so the more claims you make, the more your home insurance will cost you. Finally, making a claim means you are not eligible for a no-claims bonus—most insurance providers offer a discount for policyholders that have not made a claim in over a year. 

Still, it is important not to underestimate the seriousness of the damage. Water leaks can cause a lot of hidden damage to electrical circuits, flooring and ceilings. It would be best if you hired an expert to assess the damage and then decide if claiming for a leak on home insurance is worth it or not. 

How to make a water leak insurance claim?

Here are a few water damage insurance claim tips for UK policyholders:

1. Get the leak under control 

The first thing to do is stop the leak. Turn off the stopcock as soon as you notice a leak to limit the extent of the damage. It’s a good idea to turn off the power as well to prevent water damage to electrical circuits. Acting quickly has other benefits as well—if you take too long to react, your insurer may argue that additional damage has been caused by your negligence and reject your claim. 

2. Notify your insurance company

The next step in the water leak insurance claim procedure is contacting your insurer and informing them of the leak and the extent of the damages. Do this as soon as possible and be sure to have supporting evidence and documentation ready when you make the call, such as photos and videos or proof that pipes and heating systems have been regularly maintained. 

Although some providers may request to view the damage themselves, having evidence to support your claim should help you make a successful claim. 

The insurance company should send a loss adjuster within 24 hours to assess the damage and the evidence you provide. A loss adjuster is not be confused with a loss assessor, who assesses damages on behalf of the policyholder (you might not need one if your insurance policy accepts your claim).

3. Try to find the source of the leak

This is where the trace and access cover comes in handy as it will cover the cost of a plumber finding and exposing the issue. Even though this add-on to your insurance policy is not likely to pay for the cost of repairs, it is still very useful as in most cases the source of the leak is hidden behind walls, floors or ceilings, making it almost impossible to uncover the issue by yourself. 

4. Hold off on repairs until the issue is resolved

There is no point in repairing the damage while the underlying problem is not solved. Plus, if your home is damaged again due to the same issue, your insurer will not pay out a second time. 

How to stop water leaks 

  • Regularly check the pipes (the ones you can access) for leaks, as well as taps, bathroom and kitchen fittings. Even a small drip could cause serious issues if it is not addressed in time. 
  • Use the water metre to check for potential leaks—turn off the stopcock and check the meter in a few hours to see if it goes up. If so, you might have a water leak in your home.
  • If you notice any damp patches on the ceiling or walls, discoloured paint or low water pressure in the shower or bath, contact a plumber to check the house for leaking pipes. 
  • Do not put anything in the drains and toilets that could block them. 
  • Regularly check on tiles, sealant and grouts and replace anything broken or non-functional as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the water pipes in cold areas are lagged, i.e. insulated 
  • Keep the heating on to avoid freezing pipes 
  • Consider turning the water supply off if you are not planning on staying in the house for longer than a month. 
  • Always use the services of a licensed plumber, especially when connecting new appliances to the mains

What happens if my water damage claim is denied? 

Did you know that around 10% of claims are challenged by the insurer?

Some of the most common challenges to an insurance claim include:

  • The insurer believes damages could have been reduced if the homeowners acted sooner in limiting the extent of the damage 
  • The insurer has found that the home has not been well maintained or believes that the issue could have been prevented with regular upkeep

If your insurer rejects your claim on these or other grounds, there are few options you can consider.

  • Talk to your insurance company to check whether they are willing to reconsider 
  • File a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service who will look over your case and decide whether or not you should be compensated 

If neither of these methods work, you can take legal action against your insurance company which could end up costing you more than the repairs.

Final Thoughts

Before claiming on house insurance for a water leak, you must make sure that you are aware of your responsibilities and what the policy covers. Don’t make a claim or appeal one unless you are absolutely sure that the damage from the leak couldn’t have been avoided. At the same time, you should not make claims on leaks that are not covered by your insurance, so read the policy carefully before contacting your insurer. 

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.