Does your insurance cover include trace and access for blocks of flats?

Imagine the scene: a leaseholder comes home from work at the end of a long day to find the neighbour from downstairs fuming about a leak from your flat because her ceiling is dripping water.

So first you switch off the water – assuming you know where the stopcock is.

But it isn’t immediately obvious where the leak has come from.

Carpets and floorboards may have to come up, or showers may have to be dug out from behind tiles, probably all for the sake of finding a tiny rupture in a pipe or joint that could be a 10-minute job for the plumber to actually fix.

The buildings insurer will make good the damage after the fault has been found and repaired. However, if you don’t have trace and access insurance they may only cover the damage caused by the original leak, not the damage caused by finding the source of the leak in the first place.

As you can imagine, trace and access in a block of flats can involve multiple flats, and costs can mount up.

You might also have to grapple with problems over who pays for trace and access if it’s not covered by your insurance policy. Leaseholders may argue that they should not split the bill because, say, someone else’s dishwasher leaked or they let their bath overflow.

At Deacon, we have no doubt that trace and access cover should be seen as essential for blocks of flats, and so we only offer policies that include it.

A few words of caution: There will usually be a limit to trace and access cover.  Insurers will, of course, expect to cover reasonable costs only, and you should contact our claims team before appointing a contractor (as there may be a dispute in an emergency call out).  And do check the full terms, conditions and exclusions of your policy. For instance, will the cover extend to matching bathroom and kitchen fittings that are damaged beyond repair?


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 the link which were active at the time 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.  Any links were active at the date of publication.