A water leak in your home is disruptive and downright irritating. And you could find yourself with a hefty bill after the leak is dealt with if you don't have adequate cover in your buildings insurance. Plus you may also have to claim for damaged furniture, curtains or carpets on your contents insurance.
So to avoid any further leaks from your bank account, it's worthwhile checking your buildings insurance policy to see if it includes trace and access cover.
What is trace and access cover?
Trace and access refers to the process of finding the source of a leak in your house. Often, you can spot it easily – the living room ceiling has suddenly become a water feature – but some can be harder to find.
This is when a tradesman is called in to trace the leak, the search for which may involve lifting up floors or taking out appliances. It can become very expensive. Trace and access cover can pay towards making good any damage caused by finding a leaking pipe.
Am I covered for trace and access as standard?
While some buildings insurance policies include trace and access cover, don't expect it as standard. Where it is included you can expect to be covered for a specific amount, usually between £5,000 and £10,000.
But don't wait for the next leak. Check if your policy has the cover, so you won't have to deal with both an unexpected water leak and an unexpected bill.
What should I do if I find a leak?
If you do find water leaking the first thing to do is turn off the mains supply. Rarely used, many of us don't know where the mains valve, stopcock or tap is, never mind whether it works.
The location of the stopcock will depend on your property, whether house or apartment. Common places are the downstairs cloakroom, under the stairs or under the kitchen sink – quite often it's near to the outside water meter.
Having turned the stopcock off, open the cold tap in the kitchen to check the water has stopped flowing. If the leak is from a roof tank or a pipe that leads from it, you should find a shut-off valve there as well.
If the stopcock is too stiff, or doesn't fully turn off, place a bucket or bowl under the leak to minimise further damage, and mop up the water on the floor. You'll have to keep an eye on the container until help arrives.
It's now time to phone a plumber, heating engineer, or your home service contractor to find and fix the leak. If you do have trace and access cover, your policy may have an emergency contact number, so use that and an approved tradesman will be sent out to help you.
Never ignore any leaks. Even a weeping pipe joint or the occasional drip could end up causing substantial damage to your property if it's left unattended for a long time. It could also leave you with a higher water bill, especially if you're on a meter. Check out our tips on water damage and how to avoid it.
Avoiding excessive damage
Despite the urgency, beware of getting a tradesman round to trace a leak without first telling your insurer. They may allow you to obtain a local plumber to stop the escape of water, but they're likely to appoint their own approved tradespeople to make good any damage.
Even if you've got trace and access cover, if the contractor damages your property trying to find the leak, call a halt and contact your insurer for advice. Otherwise you may find the cost of repair exceeds the level for trace and access allowed in your policy.
The same caution applies for work involving a matching bathroom set. Many policies – but not all – will allow for a whole matching set to be replaced if the sink has to be removed and is damaged in the process.
Repairing the mains pipe to your property
The water regulator Ofwat has some good advice about a leakage from the mains pipe outside. Though not a guarantee, some water companies might offer free repairs to their service pipe that is under your land, as a general act of goodwill.
The old saying goes you're better safe than sorry, so if you're after reliable home insurance which includes up to £5,000 towards trace and access cover, get a quote from us today.