Are plumbing leaks covered by insurance?
The short answer, as will all things to do with insurance, is sometimes. Every home insurance policy is different and every insurer can have inclusions or exclusions which are ever so slightly particular when it comes to plumbing leaks. Which is why it really pays to read the fine print on your policy Product Disclosure Statement (about as exciting as watching paint dry, we know) or speak to your home insurance company directly to find out what's covered in your home.
What's covered and what's not?
We've researched a few different insurers to give you a bit of an idea of what type of plumbing leak is and isn't covered.
It seems that there is a general clause across the policies that we looked at around leakage issues which could have been avoided by carrying out regular or reasonable plumbing maintenance. This point seems to be a big one which is emphasised regularly.
Finding the leak and repairing resulting damage caused by the water leak was covered in some policies, however, the cost of repairing the burst or leaking pipe was not covered.
There seemed to be a general 'no' for gradual leaks or seepage, particularly from a leaking or faulty shower recess or base. This issue extends to all wet areas which have not been reasonably maintained, including the maintenance of seals or waterproof membrane.
Water leaks in walls and basements which have a waterproof membrane which has not been adequately cared for would not be covered. Routine inspections of the waterproofed area is a must, with repairs carried out where needed with all damp spots investigated promptly
Some policies will cover gradual leaks if it is shown that the homeowner couldn't reasonably know the leak was there - such as inside a wall cavity or under the house.
Damage to structures which has been caused by water overtime from issues like from blocked gutters or drains is not usually covered. Most did not cover for plumbing leak damage caused by tree roots either.
Regular checks of your roof for things like loose tiles, overflowing gutters, and blocked gutters or downpipes, especially after a hail storm, are essential to ensure your home is covered for any water damage from the roof. Insurance providers will not protect homeowners if the damage could have been avoided with maintenance.
Checking for signs of a water leak
Although much of your home's plumbing pipes, joins, and seals are hidden there are lots of signs which indicate the systems may not be as watertight as they should be. Look out for these indicators of a leaking plumbing system:
· water pooling under or near the dishwasher or fridge
· warped, cracked or discoloured kitchen, bathroom, or laundry cabinetry
· warped or discoloured flooring, benchtops, or walls in kitchen or bathroom
· water pooling around the toilet or under the vanity
· in the laundry look for water under the washing machine or laundry tub - check washing machine hose connections and hoses for cracks or damage also.
· discolouration or mould growth in walls, floors or ceilings anywhere in your home but particularly in sections adjacent wet areas
· damp carpets, musty or mouldy smells
· in the garden - constant wet patches or puddles even when there's no rain, trees or bushes growing much faster than surrounding plants, movement or cracking in retaining walls, paths or paved areas, and unusual holes.
· excess water under or around the hot water system (storage hot water systems often release some water through the pressure relief valve as part of normal day to day operation). Also, check roof mounted solar hot water systems and pool heating systems.
Flexible hoses often used for plumbing in the kitchen or bathroom are significant contributors to water leak problems, make sure they're inspected regularly for damage, cracks, or bulging.
How to find out if you have a water leak?
You can carry out an easy test to find out if you have a leak in the mains water pipe. This test can be carried out when you go out or when you don't need the water for at least an hour or two.
· Turn of all taps inside and outside the home.
· Take a reading from the meter, make sure you note the position of the dials as well as the numbers if your meter has them.
· Don't use the water for an hour or two, the longer the better as you can get a clearer idea of the leak if there is one.
· Take another meter reading and compare, make sure you pay attention to the dials as well as the numbers again.
If the two readings are different we recommend calling your plumber to uncover where the leak is and to carry out repairs quickly to further prevent damages.
Our plumbing team are big advocates of regular maintenance on your home plumbing systems to prevent problems or uncover issues before they cause widespread damage. If you have an issue or potential water leak in your Sydney home contact our team today.