Plumbing and drains home insurance

Burst pipes and blocked drains could cause chaos. Find out whether you’re covered by your home insurance and learn more about keeping your plumbing and drains in good working order.

Burst pipes and blocked drains could cause chaos. Find out whether you’re covered by your home insurance and learn more about keeping your plumbing and drains in good working order.

Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
6
minute read
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Last Updated 9 DECEMBER 2022

What does plumbing and drains insurance cover? 

From a leaking pipe to a flash flood, different problems may arise with your home’s plumbing and drainage system. Plumbing and drains insurance could 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 or not your plumbing and drains are covered by your home insurance depends on both the type of policy you have and the nature of the incident.

If there’s a flood, contents insurance could help you replace 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 also likely to cover some plumbing and drainage issues.

Cover varies between providers and policies but your buildings insurance may also include:

  • 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. This may depend on the type of blockage though – flush baby wipes down the toilet, for example, and your claim is likely to 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. 

It’s also worth noting that your home insurance provider might also offer you access to an emergency helpline with approved tradespeople on call to do the necessary repairs.

This is really valuable because the quicker and more efficiently a drainage or plumbing problem is tackled, the less damage it’s likely to cause. Look for policies with parts, labour and callouts included.

Finding the right cover for you requires some homework.

Always read the small print of a new or existing home insurance policy. This will help you get a better picture of what is and isn’t covered, but 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:

  • General maintenance work – including leaking pipes.
  • Pipes or drains that you’re not legally responsible for – for example, those owned by water companies, the local council or your neighbours.
  • 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.

You might also struggle to claim for any repairs that you endeavour to make before your insurance provider is able to inspect the damage. That’s why it’s always important to talk to your insurance provider first.

Your insurance provider will also likely want a detailed repair report and itemised invoice.

Some insurance providers will also refuse claims for damage caused by overflowing baths or poor seals around baths and showers. Alternatively, you might have to pay a higher ‘escape of water’ excess for this type of claim.

These types of problems are more common in homes that have been left empty for a while. This means that if your home has been empty for 30 days or more without unoccupied home insurance, you may find that your cover is invalidated.

What other types of insurance cover plumbing and drains? 

If you aren’t happy with the level of cover offered by standard buildings insurance, there is additional cover you can bolt on to your policy for an additional fee. These include:

  • 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 could 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 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 cover for your boiler, 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 could be a problem 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 will help you work out whether it’s a sensible investment.

How much does plumbing and drainage cover cost?

It’s normally cheapest 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 how much it’s likely to cost.

Typically, the cost of fixing a leaky pipe is likely to be between £160 and £310, depending on the extent of the damage and how easy it is to access.

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 should also note that your landlord’s buildings insurance won’t cover your possessions in the event of water damage. For that you’ll need to arrange your own contents insurance.

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

It depends on the nature of the problem.

For blocked sinks and drains, plungers and drainage rods might provide an easy fix. You could also try using chemical sink unblockers that you pour down the drain, but you might find that cheaper and more environmentally friendly products like baking soda and vinegar do the job just as well.

A large part of your drainage and plumbing system is underground, however, that means some problems will be a no-go area for anyone but a professional plumber.

Try and fix the problem yourself and you might find that you not only make matters worse but invalidate your policy too.

If you aren’t sure where to turn your insurance company is likely to have a list of approved tradespeople in your area.

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.

Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t put 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.
  • Get your drains looked at quickly if you become aware of any bad smells.
  • Make sure you know where the stopcock is and how to use it – this turns off the main water supply.
  • Protect your pipes by lagging them and insulate your tanks so they’re protected in a cold spell.
  • Keep the heating on low if you’re away for any length of time – this reduces the risk of pipes freezing and then bursting when temperatures rise.

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

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