Escape of water might not sound as dramatic as storms and flooding but be under no illusion. If it happens in your building it can mean months of hassle and misery.

Escape of water can be covered by a block of flats insurance policy, but avoiding the issue in the first place can save time, money, and stress.

What can start as a small leak can turn into a major job to trace and access the source, repair it, and redecorate all the affected areas, which may go beyond the flat where the leak started.

Repeated claims for escape of water can have an effect on your buildings insurance premiums. A lot of preventive measures come down to common sense, so make sure everyone understands the obvious risks and plays their part in prevention.

What is escape of water?

In insurance terms, escape of water is an event when water comes from inside the building such as a leaking or burst pipe. Flooding is when water is from an external source, like an overflowing river following torrential rain.

Escape of water can be a sudden, obvious gush from a burst pipe or overflow from blocked sinks or toilets. Another example is a leak through a worn bath or shower seal. It might not even be noticed until a stain on the ceiling below is spotted, as escape of water can be sudden or gradual.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says escape of water damage is one of the most common types of domestic property damage claims, with insurers paying out £1.8 million for it every day.

If your building has repeated claims for escape of water from overflows and faulty appliances, you might have to pay an increased excess towards the claim. In extreme circumstances, repeated claims can even lead to insurers refusing to include cover for escape of water damage.

Some insurers won't cover damage by carelessness leading to overflowing baths or water damage because of poor seals around baths or showers.

So, the residents of your block of flats should understand the risk of escape of water and, if the worst happens, know what to do to make sure damage is minimal.

What can be done to reduce escape of water risks?

As a managing agent, you can make sure that everyone is aware of the risk and the role they can play with simple home maintenance. This can include:

  • Checking bath and shower seals are still intact
  • Checking that washing machine and dishwasher inlets and outlets are still secure

What to do if there is escape of water in a flat

The first thing residents should know is where to locate their flat’s stopcock. They need to be able to turn the water off immediately if there is a sudden burst. If the problem is isolated to a single gap or toilet cistern, there may be isolator valves.

You could suggest to them to perform periodic checks to ensure the stopcock and any isolator valves haven’t seized up and to report any issues they spot, so that a plumber can perform any needed maintenance.

They could also look out for patches of damp, mildew, or mould, as these can also be signs of a gradual leak. Fixing the problem as soon as possible can prevent more serious, expensive damage in the future.

Blocks of Flats Insurance from Gallagher

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The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.