Trace and access cover

Never come across trace and access cover? You’re not the only one – but it could prove vital in an emergency. Read our guide to find out all you need to know about this part of your insurance.

Never come across trace and access cover? You’re not the only one – but it could prove vital in an emergency. Read our guide to find out all you need to know about this part of your insurance.

Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Posted 25 FEBRUARY 2020 Last Updated 16 MARCH 2020

What is trace and access cover?

‘Trace and access’ refers to the part of your home insurance policy that covers you for finding the source of a water leak. A pipe may have frozen and then burst, for example, and it can be hard to figure out where the water’s coming from. 

Having this cover could give you the confidence to call a plumber to identify the source of a water leak, knowing the cost of the work is likely to be covered by your insurance. It could also prevent a lot of damage to your home as a result.

How does trace and access cover work?

Finding the source of a leak can be an expensive and disruptive process. Trace and access cover could protect you from the costs of that work, plus any reinstatement that may need to happen afterwards.  

But it’s important to understand that trace and access cover doesn’t cover the cost of repairing the leak or the damage it’s caused. It only covers finding the problem. In most cases you’d have to check any ‘escape of water’ sections in your policy to see what you’re covered for in terms of repairs. 

In some cases, the leak might not be something that’s covered under your home insurance policy. For example, it could be a result of rising damp from a failed damp-proof course or another maintenance issue.  

While you won’t be covered for damage caused in this situation, trace and access should still cover you for any of the investigative work to find the source of the problem. 

Did you know? 

Unidentified leaks are far from an unusual problem – figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that insurance providers are paying out £1.8 million every day for damage caused by water leaks (known as an ‘escape of water’). 

Does trace and access insurance come as standard?

Not always, no. Some home insurance policies include trace and access cover, and others don’t. But you don’t want to discover your policy doesn’t cover you when a leak is happening. 

We suggest checking your policy to see if you have any cover in place. Even if you do, most policies have limits of between £5,000 and £10,000 for this kind of cover. 

It might be possible to add on trace and access cover for an extra cost, so it’s worth weighing up how important the cover is to you. It could give you peace of mind knowing that any investigative work to locate a leak is covered, but remember, the cost of repairing the leak and any damage it’s caused is usually covered by home insurance.

I have trace and access insurance. What should I do if there’s a leak? 

If water is escaping from your heating system and the cause isn’t obvious, first contact your insurance provider to get their advice. If you have home emergency cover, they may recommend sending their own approved tradesman to prevent further damage by trying to trace and isolate the leak. 
 
You’re likely to need to keep any relevant information and evidence – such as photos of damage – so check with your provider what they expect when you contact them. 
 
Remember, while trace and access insurance will help pay for any damage caused in trying to find the leak, it won’t cover anything damaged by the leak itself – this is what the main part of your home insurance policy is for. It’s worth reading over your policy documents – or calling your insurance provider – to find out what you are (and crucially aren’t) covered for before you start buying add-ons to your policy. 
 
Sometimes there might not be time to wait for an insurance provider to send their own tradesperson round – especially if it’s an emergency. In these scenarios, it’s worth telling your insurance provider and keeping any receipts if you have to pay upfront for work to be done.  

Do the same rules apply with underground pipes?

You’re usually responsible for the pipes that run underneath your land. These could include water, gas and sewage pipes, as well as electricity and TV cables. 

If you notice a leak, trace and access insurance could help pay for the cost of any investigative work to identify the problem. If your drain is damaged, check what your insurance says about drains, pipes and cables. For example, it could provide cover for tree root damage to pipes. 
 
You’re responsible for the maintenance and repair of the supply pipe that delivers water into your home. If your home shares its supply pipe with one or more neighbouring properties, you’ll have: 

  • Joint responsibility with the other property owners for the section (or sections) of pipe that provides water to your property and those of your neighbours. 
  • Sole responsibility for the section of pipe that provides water only to your own property. 

Understanding exactly where the leak is and whose responsibility it is may be crucial in these circumstances. 

If you have a leak on your private underground supply pipe, your water company is unlikely to help you find and repair the leak – but it might contribute towards your costs of having it fixed. Contact your water company directly to see if they’re willing to assist. Trace and access cover could really help in these circumstances to find the source of the problem. 

Use our comparison service to compare home buildings insurance to find a policy that includes trace and access cover, if it’s something you want to be protected for. 

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