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Repairing water damage, which costs are covered by your policy?

If you’ve had a water leak that’s caused damage to your home and you’ve just started the (less than enviable) task of sorting it out, then you may be wondering what you can and cannot claim for on your home insurance policy.

In this article we summarise the three main cost areas, what may not be covered and what to check your policy for. We can’t cover every scenario for every insurance policy, but you should get a good understanding of the things to ask your insurer about as you start this process.

Important: When starting a water damage home insurance claim, remember the two most important things: document everything and report it to your insurer as soon as you can. For more information take a look at our guide to making a water damage insurance claim.

Locating the water leak

Arguably the most important part of the process is locating the source of the water leak. If you cannot locate the leak then you cannot repair it and the damage to your home will continue.

At this point you’re probably thinking that you need a water leak detection company and you’d be mostly right. However, you actually need someone to find the source of the leak and expose it. This is known as Trace and Access and is basically the combination of finding a leak and exposing it so it can be fixed.

Some policies have Trace and Access cover included, either as a core part of the policy or as a bolt-on. If this is the case then you can reclaim the cost of this process from your insurer.

Repairing the water leak

Once found, you’ll want to repair the water leak. Often this is a leaking pipe, joint or roof. However, this is often the cause of a significant amount of confusion when it comes to your home insurance.

Often, a home insurance policy will only cover the cost to repair the damage caused by the leak and not the water leak itself. Put another way, you will need to pay for the cost to repair a leaking water pipe (assuming it’s a pipe that’s leaking) and your insurance company will cover the cost to repair the damage the leaking water has caused to your home.

It’s worth noting that some policies will now cover the cost to repair the leak, but don’t take this for granted. Check your policy wording carefully.

Repairing the water damage caused by the leak

Once the water leak has been located, exposed and fixed then it’s time to repair the water damage caused by the leak. This is where the documentation that you’ve been keeping since the beginning will prove most useful. Some insurers may suggest using their own contractors to fix the damage, but remember you do have a right to appoint your own specialists.

If you don’t want to manage the process yourself, you can appoint an insurance claim specialist to take care of most things on your behalf (their costs are covered by the insurance policy).

At the end of the process your insurer will either pay your contractor/specialist directly or make a payment to yourself to pass on to your contractor/specialist.

Keep in mind that your claim cannot include damage that was caused by general use or ‘wear and tear‘. Your insurer will only cover the cost to make repairs to damage that was directly caused by the leaking water.