The answer, for the most part, is yes. That’s if you have the correct cover, of course. Depending on your insurer, they might include the coverage of water leaks into your policy, or they might not. And like with most things, if they do offer coverage, you might want to find out to what extent.
Depending on where the water leak is, fixing it up and covering the costs of the damage might be more complex depending on the situation. There are quite a few dynamic elements that pertain to leaks which need to be taken into consideration when compiling a policy plan. For instance:
Where is the leak?
When studying a home insurance policy, you should keep an eye out for a section that refers to “trace and access”. This is the process that takes places to locate and assess where a leak is coming from. It’s the starting point of any leak repair.
If it’s a leak from a tap or a visible pipe, then you, the insured, can easily complete the assessment yourself. If you are sure there is a leak but don’t know where it is coming from, however, then a third-party company will need to come in and track the source. This can be quite an expensive and disruptive process, especially if the leak is deep underground or in a wall that’s difficult to access.
For full water leak coverage, you will want to make sure that your underwriter includes “trace and access” into your policy.
What is leaking?
Many carriers will agree to cover the costs of rooves, pipes and geysers that cannot, and should not, be fixed by a layman. Taps and more exposed water outlets, however, can usually be fixed by one’s self and in most cases, it’s just a small washer that needs to be replaced.
Pipes that are hidden in walls and ceilings, however, should be fully insured for leaks. This is not only because they will need to be repaired by a professional, but because even the smallest of leaks could be quite costly to repair due to the methods which need to be implemented to access the leak.
What will the cost be to repair the leak?
Many of us are guilty of spotting a small leak and leaving it, or taping it up with a quick fix solution. Little do we realise that we are potentially aiding in a catastrophe waiting to happen. If tiny leaks that are considered irrelevant are left untreated, after time they could cause more damage to your home and can be even more costly to repair.
Nipping the leak in the bud is the best solution. If your carrier can prove that the leak was left for some time before being fixed, their terms and conditions could possibly dictate that cover does not apply and you will not be paid out for your claim.
The cost of repairing a leak also depends on what it is that’s leaking, how easy it is to access and the age of the equipment in question (sometimes older machines and materials are not liable for cover or are more expensive to replace than modern appliances).
What will the possible costs of water damage be?
Apart from the guilty leak in question, there are other repercussions that need to be accounted for. That is, what was damaged on account of the leak? For instance, if a geyser or pipe leaks/bursts in a carpeted home, the carpets will need to be replaced and thus accounted for in a policy. The same goes for wall damage and damage to valuable property in general.
Leaks also often lead to secondary damages, like the appearance of mold or mildew and the rotting of wood fittings and structures. Even rust damage could be a potential nuisance.
When applying for home insurance, an assessor will need to take the structure of your home into consideration and they will pay attention to things like the placement of your geysers and pipes. The more threat they pose to your other belongings and building structures, the higher your premium might be if cover is granted.
What will the repair costs be that come with fixing the leak?
Last but not least, the process of fixing a leak becomes even more complex in that there might possibly be a need to “damage” property in order to access the leak and fix it. Walls might need to be drilled into or even knocked down altogether. Gardens and trees might need to be dug up and often removed completely. This can be a costly process as well as a lengthy one where time might need to be accounted for over and above the costs of repairing or replacing damaged property.
In these instances, do you want your insurance company to cover the costs of fixing the damage and to replace lost property?
While most carriers do cover the complete costs of having a leak fixed from start to finish, some insurance companies will only fix a leak in accordance to their terms and conditions. These means that you need to pay attention to the fine print.
Finding an Insurance Company to Insure Your Leaks
So, to answer your question “does home insurance cover water leaks?” once again, the answer is yes, definitely, if you find the right carrier. While this might sound like a whole lot of admin, all you need to do is find the right independent insurance agent who will help you to determine what your home insurance policy should include by taking the structure and value of your property into account as well as which costs you are willing to cover out of pocket and which ones you expect your insurer to pay.
Of course, prevention is better than the cure and if you see pipes and fixtures are looking weak and brittle or perhaps you know that your home is fitted with piping from the 18th century, then maintaining and replacing these parts before they cause damage is the ultimate solution.