RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

Brits spend £707 million a year fighting water wars

10th May 2017 Print

New research from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals that in the last five years alone, over four million people across the UK (eight per cent) have experienced damage to their property because of an escape of water from a neighbour’s home. An unlucky 1.5 million have experienced this more than once. 

Each year, an estimated 800,000 people have to deal with the problem of water escaping from a neighbouring property.  This results in a bill of £707 million each year for repairs to damage caused by water seeping in from a neighbour’s property, working out as £858 on average per incident. One in seven (15 per cent) have had to fork out over £1,500 to repair the damage, while one in twenty (five per cent) have spent more than £2,000.

Unfortunately, the first time many are aware that their neighbour is having plumbing issues is the point when water starts leaking into their property (43 per cent), often when it has already caused significant damage. In fact, people are more likely to be the one notifying their neighbour of the leak (29 per cent) than being notified by their neighbour (eight per cent).

Not having access to the problem property resulted in one in 16 (six per cent) calling the police out to enter their neighbour’s home. Some went straight to the source of the problem either by turning off the water supply to their neighbour’s property themselves (11 per cent) or asking the water board to turn off the supply (eight per cent).

When asked how they dealt with water leaking in from their neighbour’s property, around a quarter (27 per cent) put a bucket underneath the leak, while a fifth (21 per cent) tried to patch it up or temporarily resolve it themselves, potentially risking further damage. One in six (17 per cent) called out a plumber to deal with the leak, preferring to rely on the experts.

If someone in England or Wales needs to enter a property causing a leak and the resident isn’t home, they should call the police as they can affect entry under the auspices of the ‘Police and Criminal Evidence Act’ on the grounds of ‘preventing serious damage to property’. In Scotland, council guidance recommends they should be called if a householder can’t contact their neighbour, “if you can't contain the water leak until your neighbour returns, we may be able to force entry to the flat above to stop the leak.” Members of the public should not attempt to enter another person’s property, even if they feel compelled to do so because water is leaking into their home. 

Rebecca Clapham, head of household products at Direct Line, commented: “Water can cause significant amounts of damage to someone’s home. What looks like a fairly small amount can seep through floorboards, get behind tiles and cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to someone’s home. Identifying the source of the leak as quickly as possible is essential, but if you don’t know where it is, switching the water off is a good start.”

Water can cause many different types of damage to a property and can be difficult to resolve. Damage to plaster (29 per cent), paint (26 per cent) and damp in the walls (22 per cent) are the most common problems but it can also cause damp in the ceilings (21 per cent), wallpaper damage (20 per cent), damp in floorboards or carpet (16 per cent) or damage to soft furnishings (16 per cent). Of those who have experienced water damage because of neighbours, nearly half (47 per cent) were living in a flat at the time of the incident, showing how vulnerable flat dwellers are to their neighbour’s plumbing problems.

Rebecca Clapham continued: “Given the high cost of water damage it is important people check that their buildings, or contents, insurance policies provide them with sufficient cover. People need to take the time to understand what is and isn’t covered.  If they are not happy with the level of protection, they should remember most insurers offer a cooling off period to allow customers to take time to read the small print after purchasing a policy.

“Direct Line buildings insurance includes property owner’s liability cover for accidental damage or damage to a third party property, providing peace of mind if a policyholder was deemed liable. Similarly, if someone has a Direct Line contents insurance policy they would be covered for accidental damage under personal liability.”

Property owner’s liability and personal liability protections offer cover against third parties up to £5,000,000 on Direct Line’s advanced home insurance policy, Direct Line Home Plus. In addition to cover for accidental loss or damage to property, it also covers accidental death or illness or bodily injury to any person.

Consumers concerned about the impact of water damage to their property can take advantage of Direct Line Home Plus, which includes Emergency Plumber cover, with no excess to pay. The service ensures a plumber attends a customer’s property within three hours to address unstoppable leaks, following an incident such as a burst pipe. Direct Line will pay up to £500 (including VAT) for emergency assistance to cover the cost of the call-out, labour at the customer’s home, and parts to fix the leak. 

For water leaks that can be contained by turning off the water supply, Direct Line will still ensure an Emergency Plumber is sent to the property at a time convenient for the householder. Customers also benefit from no excess charges for plumber call outs and unlimited call outs during their policy period.