Home insurance and how it can help with plumbing bills

If you’ve ever faced a plumbing emergency you know how important home insurance can be. Having a professional deal with problems quickly and efficiently is crucial and so having some financial support in your time of need can provide welcome peace of mind.

So just what level of home insurance cover do you need and how it can help with plumbing expenses?

What is home insurance and how can it help?

How important is your home and its contents? For most people their home and its contents are the largest investment of their lives and so protecting them is crucial – and this is where home insurance comes in.

There are two aspects of home insurance:

- Buildings insurance: Covers the structure of your home and its permanent fixtures and fittings. Depending on the policy you choose, it may also cover outbuildings, underground pipes and cables, and even glass in doors and windows. It can protect your property against risks such as floods, theft, fire, subsidence, storms and malicious damage.

- Contents insurance: This covers the possessions within your home ranging from your clothing to electrical items, carpets, curtains, furniture and more. Most insurers protect contents against risks including fires, storms, flooding and theft and will replace items either on a ‘new for old’ basis, meaning you receive a brand new replacement for damaged items; or on a ‘wear and tear’ basis, meaning a percentage of what you paid is deducted for depreciation.

Keeping your policies up to date is vital to ensure you receive a suitable payout should an insured event occur.

How can it help with plumbing expenses?

There are two elements of home insurance cover you should look for to ensure a policy will protect you if a plumbing related problem occurs:

- Accidental damage cover: Most home insurance companies only protect electrical items against accidental damage so you should look for extended accidental damage cover to ensure all of your items are protected. Depending on the level of cover you have, accidental damage cover could cover damages as a result of ‘escape of water’ following an accident in the home – such as if you inadvertently burst a pipe. However, as plumbing accidents are so common you should ensure that ‘escape of water’ is not excluded in the terms and conditions.

- Home emergency cover: Home emergency cover is typically available as an add-on to a home insurance policy, meaning it will normally cost an additional premium. Depending on the insurer, it will typically provide an emergency callout from an experienced professional should you suffer a home emergency such as a burst pipe. There may also be instant advice available over the phone from experienced advisers.

Making a claim under the home emergency aspect of your cover therefore, usually provides a payout, up to a pre-determined limit, to assist with emergency plumbing bills.

Is there anything to be aware of before making a claim?

Before making a claim on your home insurance policy, remember that you will usually have to pay a policy excess – this is your contribution towards a claim. Setting the excess at a high level can lower home insurance premiums. However, it should be kept at a level you can comfortably afford in case a claim is necessary.

Also bear in mind that your home insurance premiums may be affected going forward once a claim is made. This is because insurers take into account a number of factors when assessing premiums including your claims history – the more likely you are perceived to make a claim, the higher your premiums will be.

If you do need to make a claim the process is usually straightforward. Firstly ensure your property is safe by stopping the flow of water / leak. Then contact your insurer as soon as possible and follow its instructions. Do not attempt any additional repairs yourself or arrange for a plumber to come out without the insurer’s approval, as it may wish to use one of its own approved plumbers – any work that you carry out could risk invalidating a claim.

Isn’t it best to avoid claims?

While home insurance can provide a welcome safety net in case things go wrong, it’s best to avoid these problems in the first place – so here are some tips to prevent some common plumbing emergencies:

- Prevent frozen pipes: Insulate external pipes and any internal ones that are exposed to freezing. In cold weather, check the taps in your home regularly, and if you’re away during the winter ask someone to check your home for you.

- Prevent water leaks: Familiarise yourself with where the stopcock is to cut off the flow of water should a leak occur.

- Central heating: Have your home central heating serviced regularly and if you are away from your home during the winter then set your central heating to come on for a short period during each day to prevent freezing.

- Loft insulation: Invest in loft insulation with foam insulation on pipes including on the joints and bends. Make sure your water storage tank is well insulated too, especially if it’s at risk of freezing during the winter.