‘Trace and Access’ versus ‘Escape of Water’ – What’s The Difference?

Two terms that are often heard when discussing water damage are ‘Trace and Access’ and ‘Escape of Water’. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, implying there is little difference between them. However, this is not the case and it’s important to realise that they represent different stages and parts of a water damage insurance claim.

So, what’s Trace and Access?

Some water leaks are easy to spot. It’s obvious where they originate and reaching them is easy. For example, a leaking tap is relatively easy to spot and straightforward to reach. However, what happens when you suspect a water leak but the source is not obvious? Perhaps it could be located behind a wall, underneath a floor, within a ceiling or inside your central heating system. If you can’t be sure of the source, then reaching it (so it can be repaired) it is going to be difficult.

This is where Trace and Access cover comes in. Many insurance policies include cover which protects you against the cost of locating the source of a water leak and exposing it. They will advise you to employ a Trace and Access company, who will use a range of tools (e.g. thermal imaging, acoustic microphones, endoscopic cameras and gas tracing) to locate the source of a water leak (without causing excess damage to your home in the process). They will then expose the leak, so it can be repaired.

Notice above that I said ‘can be repaired’. Trace and Access does not cover the cost of either repairing the water leak or the damage caused by the water. It simply covers the cost of locating the leak source and exposing it.

How about Escape of Water?

If Trace and Access covers the cost of locating and exposing a leak, then Escape of Water must surely cover everything else? This is partially true and it really depends on your insurance policy. The vast majority of policies will include Escape of Water cover, which will protect you against the cost of repairing the damage caused by a water leak.

However, not all policies will include cover to protect you against the cost of repairing the actual water leak. For example, replacing a damaged pipe or repairing a leaking joint. It’s best to check your policy with your insurance provider to see if this is covered in your policy.

Avoiding a common mistake

When making a water damage insurance claim, it can be easy to assume that everything has to be claimed through one part of your policy. For example, we’ve seen some people try and claim back Trace and Access costs through Escape of Water cover and visa-versa. But note that each part of your policy may have different levels of excess and maximum claim amounts. Therefore, it’s often best to split the different parts of your claim and put them against the relevant cover – rather than trying to bundle everything into one.