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Trace and access cover

Never heard of trace and access cover? You’re not the only one – but it could prove vital in an emergency. Here’s what you need to know about this part of your home insurance.

Never heard of trace and access cover? You’re not the only one – but it could prove vital in an emergency. Here’s what you need to know about this part of your home insurance.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
17 JANUARY 2023
4 min read
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What’s trace and access cover?

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

Having trace and access cover can give you the confidence to call a plumber to identify the source of a water leak, knowing your insurance will cover the cost of finding it. It could also prevent your home suffering significant damage.

How does trace and access cover work?

Finding the source of a leak can be an expensive and disruptive process. Trace and access cover can protect you from these costs.

But it’s important to understand that trace and access won’t cover the cost of repairing the leak or any damage it’s caused. It only covers the cost of finding the root of the problem. Check any ‘escape of water’ sections in your home insurance policy to see what repairs you’re covered for.

In some cases, the cause of the leak might not be covered by your home insurance. For example, it could be a maintenance issue, such as rising damp from a failed damp-proof course. While you won’t be covered for damage caused in this situation, trace and access should still cover you for investigative work to find the source of the problem.

Did you know? 

Unidentified leaks aren’t unusual – according to Association of British Insurers (ABI) figures, insurance providers pay out £1.8 million every day for damage caused by water leaks.

Does trace and access insurance come as standard?

Not always, no. Some home insurance policies include trace and access cover; others don’t. Check your policy to see if you’re covered. Even if you are, you may find your policy has a limit of between £5,000 and £10,000.

If you don’t have trace and access cover, you should be able to add it for an extra cost, so it’s worth weighing up the benefits. While it could give you peace of mind, remember that the cost of repairing the leak and any damage caused is usually covered by your 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 you can’t see what’s causing it, contact your insurance provider to get their advice. If you have home emergency cover, they may send an approved tradesman to trace and isolate the leak, preventing further damage.

Your insurance provider may ask for evidence, so keep any relevant information, such as photos.

While trace and access insurance can pay for damage caused by trying to find the leak, it won’t cover damage from the leak itself. This is what your home insurance policy is for.

You may find there isn’t time to wait for an insurance provider to send their own tradesperson – especially if it’s an emergency. If that’s the case, tell your insurance provider and keep any receipts if you have to pay upfront for the work.

Am I responsible for underground pipes?

You’re usually responsible for the pipes running under 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 pay for the cost of identifying the problem.

You’re responsible for repairing and maintaining the supply pipe that delivers water to your home. If your home shares its supply pipe with one or more properties, you’ll have:

  • Joint responsibility with your neighbours for the section (or sections) of water pipe supplying you and your neighbours.
  • Sole responsibility for the section of pipe providing water only to your own property. 

If there’s a leak in the supply pipe, understanding exactly where it is and whose responsibility it is may be crucial.

If you have a leak on your private underground supply pipe, trace and access cover can help you find the source of the problem. Your water company is unlikely to help you find and repair it, though it may contribute towards the cost of having it fixed. Contact your water company to see what they can do.

If a drain on your property is damaged, check what your trace and access cover says about drains, pipes and cables. It may, for example, cover damage caused by tree roots.

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Frequently asked questions

What does trace and access insurance cover?

Trace and access insurance usually covers escape of water from any appliance or heating system. Many policies also cover escape of oil from a domestic oil tank.

What doesn’t trace and access insurance cover?

Trace and access insurance won’t cover the cost of fixing your appliances, tanks or heating systems.

Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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