0800 002 5819 claims@claimrite.co.uk

Can I Make A Claim For Water Damage To My Property?

Yes, you can make a claim for water damage to your property. However, when making a claim for water damage, it’s crucial to ensure that the damage was unforeseen and unpreventable.

There are many ways in which a property can be damaged by water, from both inside and outside. This article explores the different causes, how they can affect the property, including the type of damage they cause, and whether homeowners can claim for the damage under their home insurance policies.

Water Damage Caused by Plumbing Leaks

Plumbing leaks represent a common household issue that can lead to significant damage if left unaddressed. From burst pipes to fixture leaks, each type of plumbing issue poses unique challenges and risks to homeowners.

1. Pipe Leaks:

  • Effect on Home: Pipe leaks can occur due to corrosion, age, or external damage, leading to water seepage into walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • Damage: Water damage from pipe leaks can result in stains, mould growth, structural weakening, and potential flooding, depending on the severity of the leak.
  • Can I Claim? Home insurance typically covers sudden and accidental pipe leaks, including damage to the structure and contents, subject to policy terms and excess.

2. Fixture Leaks:

  • Effect on Home: Leaks from fixtures such as sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs can cause localised water damage in the affected area.
  • Damage: Fixture leaks can lead to water stains, mould growth, and deterioration of surrounding surfaces and materials.
  • Can I Claim? Home insurance may cover sudden and accidental fixture leaks, although coverage may vary based on policy specifics and the cause of the leak. A watchpoint here is that the escape of water must have been sudden and unforeseen as opposed to a longstanding or ongoing issue.

3. Water Heater Leaks:

  • Effect on Home: Leaks from water heaters can occur due to corrosion, pressure buildup, or faulty components, leading to water damage in utility areas or basements.
  • Damage: Water heater leaks can cause damage to flooring, nearby structures, and electrical systems, posing safety hazards.
  • Can I Claim? Home insurance typically covers sudden and accidental water heater leaks and resulting damage, but coverage may be subject to policy terms and conditions.

4. Appliance Leaks:

  • Effect on Home: Leaks from appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators can cause water damage to floors and nearby areas.
  • Damage: Appliance leaks can lead to water damage to flooring, cabinets, and surrounding structures, as well as potential damage to the appliance itself.
  • Can I Claim? Home insurance may cover sudden and accidental appliance leaks, but policyholders should review their coverage limits and exclusions for clarity.

5. Frozen Pipes:

  • Effect on Home: Burst or cracked pipes due to freezing can result in significant water damage when the ice thaws, potentially causing flooding and structural damage.
  • Damage: Frozen pipe bursts can lead to flooding, structural weakening, mould growth, and damage to personal belongings.
  • Can I Claim? Home insurance typically covers damage from burst pipes, including those caused by freezing, although policyholders should review their coverage and consider preventative measures like insulation to mitigate the risk.

Plumbing leaks in homes can result in various types of damage, from water stains to structural weakening and mould growth. Policyholders should understand their insurance coverage for different types of plumbing leaks and take preventative measures to minimise the risk of damage. Regular maintenance, prompt repairs, and adequate insulation can help mitigate the likelihood of plumbing leaks and ensure comprehensive insurance coverage in case of an incident.

Water Damage Caused by Floods

Different types of floods can affect homes in various ways, causing damage to property and belongings. Here are some common types of floods and their effects on homes, along with considerations for insurance claims:

  1. Surface Water Flooding:
    • Effect on Home: Surface water flooding occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms drainage systems, causing water to accumulate on streets, lawns, and even enter homes through doors and windows.
    • Damage: It can lead to water damage to floors, walls, and belongings. Contaminants carried by floodwater may also pose health risks.
    • Can I Claim? Most home insurance policies in the UK cover damage caused by surface water flooding as part of their standard coverage or as an optional add-on.
  1. River Flooding:
    • Effect on Home: River flooding occurs when rivers overflow their banks due to heavy rainfall or melting snow, inundating nearby homes and properties.
    • Damage: River flooding can cause significant structural damage to homes, including foundation damage, water infiltration, and mould growth.
    • Can I Claim? River flooding damage is typically covered under home insurance policies, although some properties in high-risk flood zones may require specialised flood insurance coverage. A watch point here is to check your policy documents for a question that asks if your property is near a water course or the like. Sometimes they ask for a distance. You must ensure the disclosure you have made on this question is accurate, otherwise this may result in you having no cover, if the worst should happen.
  1. Coastal Flooding:
    • Effect on Home: Coastal flooding occurs when high tides, storm surges, or tsunamis inundate coastal areas, affecting homes and properties near the shore.
    • Damage: Coastal flooding can result in severe structural damage, erosion of foundations, and corrosion of building materials due to exposure to saltwater.
    • Can I Claim? Home insurance policies may cover damage caused by coastal flooding, but coverage may vary depending on the proximity of the property to the coastline and the level of risk. Again, the disclosure questions in your policy are key here.
  1. Flash Flooding:
    • Effect on Home: Flash flooding occurs suddenly and unpredictably, often resulting from intense rainfall or the rapid melting of snow. It can overwhelm drainage systems and cause water to rapidly accumulate in low-lying areas, including homes.
    • Damage: Flash flooding can cause rapid and extensive water damage to homes, including structural damage, destruction of belongings, and safety hazards.
    • Can I Claim? Damage caused by flash flooding is typically covered under home insurance policies, although homeowners should review their policies for specific coverage limits and exclusions.
  1. Groundwater Flooding:
    • Effect on Home: Groundwater flooding occurs when the water table rises, saturating the soil and infiltrating basements and lower levels of homes.
    • Damage: Groundwater flooding can lead to significant damage to foundations, basements, and underground structures. It may also cause mould growth and compromise structural integrity.
    • Can I Claim? Home insurance policies may cover damage caused by groundwater flooding, but coverage may vary depending on the policy terms and the extent of the damage. Damage caused by changes in the water table are usually excluded from standard insurance policies. However, it is very hard to prove that this is the cause, without specialist advice. If your Insurer is refusing a claim based on this exclusion, it should always be challenged if there is no hard evidence.
  1. Sewer Flooding:
    • Effect on Home: Sewer flooding occurs when sewage systems become overwhelmed, leading to the backup of sewage into homes through drains and toilets.
    • Damage: Sewer flooding can result in contamination of living spaces, damage to property, and health hazards due to exposure to sewage-borne pathogens.
    • Can I Claim? Home insurance policies may cover damage caused by sewer flooding, but coverage may be subject to specific terms and conditions, such as the cause of the backup and any exclusions related to sewage-related issues.

It’s important for homeowners to review their insurance policies carefully to understand their coverage for different types of flood damage. In some cases, additional flood insurance may be necessary, especially for properties located in high-risk flood zones or areas prone to specific types of flooding. Taking preventive measures, such as installing flood barriers, sump pumps, and maintaining drainage systems, can also help reduce the risk of flood damage and ensure adequate protection for homes and belongings.

Water Damage Caused by Storms

Water damage following storms is a common concern for homeowners in the UK, where heavy rainfall and severe weather events can lead to various types of property damage.

1. Roof Leaks:

  • Effect on Home: Storms can damage roofs, leading to leaks and water infiltration into the home.
  • Damage: Roof leaks can cause water stains on ceilings and walls, structural damage, and mould growth.
  • Can I Claim? Most home insurance policies cover damage from roof leaks caused by storms, providing they accept that the damage was caused by a storm, subject to policy terms and conditions. However, this can sometimes be a contentious issue and the policyholder is often left to prove that they have suffered storm damage. For more information please click here to see our article explaining storm damage.
  • Accidental Damage Extension: If you have an extension of cover on your policy for Accidental Damage, this means that even if your insurance company refuses to accept that the initial roof damage was caused by a storm, you should still be able to claim for the internal water damage under the accidental damage extension, providing the event is unforeseen and one-off.

2. Flooding:

  • Effect on Home: Heavy rainfall or storm surges can lead to flooding, particularly in low-lying areas or properties near bodies of water.
  • Damage: Floodwater can cause extensive damage to flooring, walls, furniture, and belongings. It may also lead to mould growth and structural issues.
  • Can I Claim? Standard home insurance policies typically cover flood damage. However, certain policies may exclude flood damage if there is a history of flood claims or the property is in certain locations.

3. Basement Seepage:

  • Effect on Home: Stormwater can seep into basements through cracks in the foundation or inadequate drainage systems.
  • Damage: Basement seepage can lead to water damage to walls, flooring, and stored belongings. It may also contribute to mould and mildew growth.
  • Can I Claim? Coverage for basement seepage may vary depending on the cause and extent of the damage. Some home insurance policies may provide limited coverage, while others may exclude it altogether. If you have an ‘Accidental Damage’ extension on your policy, then you should be able to claim for internal water damage, providing it is a one-off event.

4. Siding and Exterior Damage:

  • Effect on Home: Strong winds and debris during storms can damage siding, exterior walls, and windows, allowing water to enter the home.
  • Damage: Water infiltration through damaged siding or exteriors can lead to moisture damage, rot, and mould growth inside the home.
  • Can I Claim? Damage to siding and exteriors caused by storms is typically covered under home insurance policies, subject to deductibles and policy terms, providing they accept that the damage was caused by a storm, subject to policy terms and conditions. However, this can sometimes be a contentious issue and the policyholder is often left to prove that they have suffered storm damage. Please see this related article for more information.

Water damage following storms can have significant consequences for UK homeowners. Understanding the different types of water damage and their effects on the property is essential for taking appropriate preventive measures and ensuring adequate insurance coverage. While some types of water damage may be covered under standard home insurance policies, homeowners may need to consider additional coverage options, such as an Accidental Damage extension, to protect against specific risks. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs can also help mitigate the risk of water damage and minimise potential losses.

Water Damage Caused By Drainage Issues

Water damage resulting from drainage issues or damage is a significant concern for homeowners, where heavy rainfall and inadequate drainage systems can lead to various types of property damage.

1. Basement Flooding:

  • Effect on Home: Poor drainage around the foundation or clogged basement drains can result in basement flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.
  • Damage: Basement flooding can cause water damage to flooring, walls, and stored belongings. It may also lead to mould growth and structural issues.
  • Can I Claim? Home insurance policies may provide coverage for basement flooding caused by drainage issues, subject to policy terms and conditions. However, coverage may be limited.

2. Crawl Space Moisture:

  • Effect on Home: Inadequate drainage or ventilation in crawl spaces can lead to moisture buildup, which can result in water damage and mould growth.
  • Damage: Moisture in crawl spaces can cause structural damage, rot, and mould growth. It may also affect indoor air quality and contribute to health issues.
  • Can I Claim? This kind of damage would be caused by a building defect and occur over a long period of time, as opposed to a one-off event caused by an insured peril. Therefore, this type of damage would not usually be covered under a home insurance policy.

3. Foundation Damage:

  • Effect on Home: Poor drainage or water pooling around the foundation can lead to foundation damage, including cracks and shifting.
  • Damage: Foundation damage can compromise the structural integrity of the home, leading to water infiltration, mould growth, and other issues.
  • Can I Claim? This kind of damage would be caused by a building defect and occur over a long period of time, as opposed to a one-off event caused by an insured peril. Therefore, this type of damage would not be covered under a home insurance policy.

4. Exterior Water Damage:

  • Effect on Home: Water pooling around the exterior of the home due to drainage issues can lead to damage to siding, exterior walls, and windows.
  • Damage: Exterior water damage can result in moisture infiltration, rot, and mould growth. It may also affect the aesthetic appearance of the home.
  • Can I Claim? This kind of damage would be caused by a building defect and occur over a long period of time, as opposed to a one-off event caused by an insured peril. Therefore, this type of damage would not be covered under a home insurance policy.

5. Landscape Erosion:

  • Effect on Home: Poor drainage can lead to landscape erosion, causing soil erosion, sinkholes, and damage to vegetation.
  • Damage: Landscape erosion can impact the stability of the property, leading to potential damage to structures and infrastructure.
  • Can I Claim? This kind of damage would be caused by a building defect and occur over a long period of time, as opposed to a one-off event caused by an insured peril. Therefore, this type of damage would not be covered under a home insurance policy.

Conclusion

Water damage of all types can have significant consequences for UK homeowners. Understanding the different types of water damage and their effects on the property is essential for taking preventive measures and ensuring adequate insurance coverage.

While some types of water damage may be covered under standard home insurance policies, homeowners may need to consider additional coverage options, such as flood insurance or the accidental damage extension, for comprehensive protection against water damage.

Regular maintenance of drainage systems, plumbing systems, appliances, roof coverings, and prompt repairs, can also help mitigate the risk of water damage and minimise potential losses.

With any claim, we would firstly recommend discussing the matter with a loss assessor, to establish if you would benefit from professional assistance.

If you would like to speak to an expert about this or any other aspect of your claim, call our free Property Claim Helpline on 0800 002 5819, for a no obligation consultation.

Disclaimer

All content within this or any column, or via the free helpline, is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the Insurance advice of your own broker or any other insurance professional. Claimrite is not responsible or liable for any decisions made by a user based on the content of this site or the free helpline.

Claimrite is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own Insurance broker if you’re in any way concerned about your insurance cover.