Escape of water damage is one of the most common types of domestic property damage claims1, according to the Association of British Insurers.
However, buildings insurance will usually only cover water leaks and water damage if the cause is sudden or accidental such as when a pipe burst. Gradual water damage, which occurs slowly and over time, is very rarely covered by a buildings insurance policy.
Gradual damage is often caused by normal wear and tear as, over time, pipes and connections can deteriorate. While water damage can seem sudden, it may have been happening over a long period. Pipes and plumbing systems aren’t easily visible, hidden within your home’s walls. So, if a leak was slowly building up, you likely wouldn’t notice it until a major water damage incident occurs.
That’s why it’s always advisable to ask leaseholders in the block of flats to check their plumbing, and for building managers to check the common areas regularly. Even a leaky tap or cistern or a perished washer on white goods can add up to big problems over time,
Even when the damage is sudden, the cost of consequential damage may not be covered – such as if the water from a burst pipe damages décor or fitted kitchen units or cupboards. Similarly, the costs of finding leaks (trace and access) leaks may not be covered, which means that the cost of making good after lifting floorboards etc to find the source may not be reimbursed.
Talk to your broker and make sure you have the cover you need and are clear on what is not insured so everyone in the building can take precautions. All Deacon blocks of flats insurance policies offer trace and access cover.
First published 31 March 2016
Updated 22 November 2021
The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Deacon accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.