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There's a Leak! Am I at Fault? - Dealing With Escape of Water

22 January 2021

Escape of water is consistently the most expensive claim for domestic property insurers.

Recent Association of British Insurers (ABI) data shows that on average insurers are paying out £1.8 million for escape of water claims every day. Between 2014 and 2017 the cost of the with the average claim has risen 31% to £2,638.


Who Is Responsible for the Leak?


The general, mistaken, belief is that if the leak came from your property, you’re liable and should pay for any damage incurred to your neighbour’s property. However, the reality is that unless you’re found to be negligent your home insurers won’t pay to repair your neighbour’s damaged property.

It would need to be proven that you were legally liable for the damages caused and you were negligent in your actions. Most normal leaks are simply bad luck and not negligent.


Do I Have to Claim From My Insurance?


In practice, it requires more than one incident and a failure of the occupier/owner in the property above to address the cause of the water penetration below before negligence can really be proven. An example of which is:

  • A leaking boiler which had leaked before, had not been repaired and had not received subsequent proper annual inspections.

It would be different if the cause was directly due to the occupiers/owner’s negligent actions. Examples of this are:

  • If a bath was allowed to overflow whilst it was left running unattended.
  • If the leak came from an unoccupied property that wasn’t being checked on a regular basis.

As such, where no negligence is proven you have to claim from your own insurance policy for any damage to your property and contents.


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Are you making renovations to your property?

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How Can My Insurance Trace the Leak?


It is worth making sure that you have ‘trace and access’ cover included in your policy. A building is likely to contain many pipes and appliances and it is possible for water to travel through the structure of the building before emerging in a room or another property.

Tracing the source of the leak and then accessing it can be a messy business with tiles or plasterboard or even sanitary units needing to be removed.

If you have ‘trace and access’ cover in your household policy it should cover you for the costs involved in finding the source of any water which has escaped, subject to the policy’s terms and conditions. So, the cost of putting tiles and plasterboard back will be covered.


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Is your property a self-build?

Read the insurance advice to protect your self-build


Do I Need Public Liability Insurance?


Should you be found legally liable for a leak as a property owner or occupier, you will want peace of mind that you have cover for your legal liability to the public. This is known as public liability insurance. It’s crucial to check your buildings and contents policy carefully and ensure that this is included.


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Are you a landlord?

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Get the Cover You Need


It costs nothing to get a no-obligation review of your current insurances and a taking a few minutes to contact us could save you thousands of pounds if a claim arises. Our team will be more than happy to share our expertise to advise you. You can reach them here.

Alexandra Richards - Private Clients Development Executive

Private Clients Development Executive



There's a Leak! Am I at Fault?

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