Plumbing and drains home insurance

If a pipe bursts or a drain gets blocked, will your home insurance cover the cost of repairs? Find out with our helpful guide and get some tips on protecting your plumbing and drainage system so it stays in good working order.

If a pipe bursts or a drain gets blocked, will your home insurance cover the cost of repairs? Find out with our helpful guide and get some tips on protecting your plumbing and drainage system so it stays in good working order.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
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Posted 9 MAY 2022

What does plumbing and drains insurance cover? 

From a leaking pipe to a flash flood, different problems may arise from your home’s plumbing and drainage system. Plumbing and drains insurance can cover: 

  • Plumbing in your home and outbuildings
  • Your water supply
  • Unblocking drains and waste pipes
  • Accidental damage.

Are plumbing and drains covered by home insurance? 

Whether the cost of plumbing and drains repairs is covered by your home insurance depends on exactly what goes wrong and the policy you have.

If there’s a flood, contents insurance could help pay for any soft furnishings, electrical devices and other valuables that are damaged or lost.

Buildings insurance, which covers your home’s structure and any permanent fixtures and fittings, is likely to cover some plumbing and drainage issues.

Depending on your policy and your level of cover, your buildings insurance may extend to: 

  • The repair of burst water pipes – this is not the same as cover for damage caused by the leaking water.
  • Accidental damage to underground pipes, drains and tanks, also known as underground services.
  • Tracing and accessing a leak – finding and fixing a leak if it happens in your house or underground.
  • Unblocking or replacing a blocked drain, toilet or sewage pipe, depending on the cause. If the blockage is due to flushing baby wipes down the toilet, for example, your claim might be rejected.
  • Escape of water – water damage caused by flooding due to a burst pipe or blocked drain.
  • Alternative accommodation if your home floods and you need to move out. 

You may also get an emergency helpline number with insurance provider-approved tradespeople on call to do the necessary repair work. This is particularly useful as the quicker and more efficiently a drainage or plumbing problem is addressed, the less damage is done. Look for policies with parts, labour and callouts included.

Finding the right cover for you requires some homework. Read the small print of your existing home insurance policy not only to find out what’s excluded, but also to make sure you don’t end up paying extra for protection that you’ve already got.

What won’t be covered? 

Buildings insurance is unlikely to cover or may exclude: 

  • General maintenance work – including leaking pipes.
  • Pipes or drains (or parts of them) that you’re not legally responsible for – those owned by water companies, the local council or neighbours.
  • Gradual damage or general wear and tear.
  • Dripping taps and limescale build-ups from hard water.
  • Pipes or drains made of pitch fibre – a cheaper, lightweight material with a shorter lifespan than the heavy-duty plastic alternative.
  • Damage that’s not to a part of the system covered by the policy – for example, subsidence caused by flooding from a burst pipe.
  • Cesspits or soakaways.
  • Flooding if you live in a high-risk area, for example, near a river.
  • Faults or damage caused by poor design, construction or maintenance.
  • Repairs made before the insurance provider is able to inspect the problem or without a detailed repairs report and itemised invoice. 

Some insurance providers will also refuse claims for damage caused by overflowing baths or poor seals around baths and showers – or you may have to pay a higher excess than normal, known as an ‘escape of water’ excess.

If your home has been empty for 30 days or more without unoccupied home insurance, this might also invalidate your policy.

What other types of insurance cover plumbing and drains? 

When standard buildings insurance doesn’t give you the cover you’re looking for, there are optional insurance products that can be added on for an extra cost. 

  • Home emergency cover. This typically includes blocked drains, sinks and toilets, as well as burst pipes. The insurance provider may also organise and pay for an approved tradesperson to do the emergency repairs. As a general rule, the more you pay, the more extensive the cover.
  • Extended accidental damage. This provides more comprehensive cover for damage caused by an unforeseen or unintentional event, for example, drilling through a water pipe or a tree root intrusion that blocks a drain. Always check for policy exclusions. For instance, if you’re trying to repair the problem yourself and something goes wrong, any resulting claim is likely to be rejected. You should always hire a reputable, qualified tradesperson.
  • Dedicated plumbing and drains cover. This can be useful not only in emergencies but also for more minor inconveniences, such as a dripping tap. Unfortunately, we don’t currently offer a price comparison service for standalone plumbing and drains insurance.

What are the advantages of plumbing and drains cover? 

Given the cover that you may already have from existing policies, do you really need plumbing and drains insurance too?

As well as boosting the existing protection provided by your home insurance, a plumbing and drains policy might have other products bundled in with it, such as boiler cover, heating or electrics.

You may also want to think about additional cover if your drainage system is prone to blockages – for example, problems caused by tree roots growing through fractured drains, which is an issue in more rural areas.

It always pays to shop around and compare prices. Ultimately, it’s cost, your specific requirements and peace of mind that are the deciding factors.

How much does plumbing and drainage cover cost? 

It might be cheaper to add plumbing and drainage insurance to your existing home insurance policy rather than take out standalone cover. Contact your home insurance provider to see if this possible and what the additional cost would be.

Given that the cost of repairing a leaking pipe may be around £160 to £310, depending on the level of damage and access, plumbing and drainage cover might feel like a worthwhile investment. And should the worst happen and the pipe bursts causing extensive water damage, the cost to you could be in the thousands.

Where can you compare plumbing and drains cover? 

You can’t compare standalone plumbing and drains cover with us, but we do compare home insurance and home emergency cover. Why not take a look and see if you can save?

Frequently asked questions

If I’m a tenant, do I need to get plumbing and drainage cover?

Your landlord is responsible for the plumbing and drainage of the property, so it’s up to them to take out the necessary buildings insurance and any additional policies needed to cover drains and pipes.

As a tenant, however, it’s important that you report any problems as soon as possible – particularly in an emergency.

You may also want to get contents insurance, which could help you replace any possessions lost or damaged by flooding.

Should I try to solve a drainage or plumbing problem myself?

It depends on the nature of the problem. A large part of your drainage and plumbing system is underground, which makes it a no-go area for anyone but a professional plumber – and any attempts on your part to fix the problem might invalidate your policy if you don’t succeed or make matters worse.

For blocked sinks and drains, plungers and drainage rods may be a solution, or you can try pouring chemicals down the plughole to disperse build-ups. Vinegar, baking soda and water is an eco-friendlier alternative.

For anything else, you’re better off calling in a qualified tradesperson to do the work for you. Your insurance company might have a list of approved providers.

What can I do to reduce the risk of burst or leaking pipes and blocked drains?

There’s a lot you can do to make sure your water pipes and drains stay in good condition and regular maintenance is top of the list.

Other precautionary measures include: 

  • Not putting oils, fats and sanitary products down the drains as they can all clog up the system. Even baby wipes and toilet wipes that claim to be flushable could cause problems.
  • Getting the system looked at quickly if you become aware of a bad smell coming from the drains.
  • Making sure you know where the stopcock is and how to use it. This turns off the main water supply.
  • Protecting your pipes by lagging them and insulating tanks so they’re protected if there’s a cold spell.
  • Keeping the heating on low if you’re away for any length of time and allowing warmer air up into the loft, if that’s where your water tank is. 

You’ll find more advice on our burst pipes and water leak insurance page.

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