Escape of water part 1 – Burst pipe, house trashed!

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This is the first in a series of articles which document the procedure/process following a burst water pipe and the subsequent insurance claim. I decided to write the articles following such an event in my house and being unable to find much in the way of useful information online. Hopefully, in time, the search engines will pick these articles up and if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a similar event, my experience might give you some idea of what to expect.

Well my New Year celebrations were brought to an unexpected end last week when I took a phone call from a neighbour who advised me that there was water pouring out of the edge of the roof of my house. 

Like many people, I had taken a break over the New Year and had been away for a few days. Knowing that cold weather was forecast, I had taken the precaution of leaving the heating on low. The pipes in the loft were all lagged and, as I have done for over twenty years, I happily trotted off on holiday without even considering turning the water off at the mains, I mean, who does that? Unfortunately, my precautions were not sufficient and during one particularly cold night (when the temperature dropped to -5) a pipe (which it turned out, had no lagging on it)  in the loft froze and then burst. 

My neighbour was able to turn the water supply off at the stop-cock in the road and I promptly booked a flight home the next day so that I could inspect the damage. I was expecting a complete mess and a huge repair bill. Annoyingly I had painted the entire property just before Christmas. Flying home, my main worry was what would happen if the insurance company failed to pay out. I have zero experience of claiming on a household insurance policy, despite having held such a policy for over 23 years. I have avoided making claims for minor incidents such as spilling wine on the carpet and have always taken the view that I would only use my insurance for something serious. Hopefully this would go in my favour but we all know what insurance companies are like don’t we? After all, we’ve all read the horror stories in the papers about them trying to wriggle out of each and every claim and haggling over every penny.

I was right to expect a mess and on entering the house it was immediately clear that 75% of the property was completely trashed. It is going to be a big job to put everything back together and it will take several months. Of course, it wasn’t just the property itself which was damaged but all of my furniture and possessions too – pretty much everything was ready for the skip. I made a call to my insurance company and they were extremely helpful and put my mind at ease to an extent. They agreed to pay for me to go to a hotel for the weekend and arranged for a loss adjuster to visit in a couple of days time. I was told to leave the house exactly as it was – don’t clear up, don’t throw anything away, don’t touch a thing. This was a little frustrating to me as I figured that the quicker I got the wet stuff out, the faster the property would dry but the loss adjuster wants to see everything ‘in situ’ to make sure there is no funny business going on, which is fair enough.

After speaking to the insurance company, I carried out a few Google searches to try and find out what I could expect from the loss adjuster and how things would progress going forward. The information I found was not exactly comprehensive and much of it was written by people who hadn’t actually gone through the claim process, rather they were just giving an opinion on what should happen. Therefore, I decided to document the process myself in the hope that anyone who is unfortunate enough to suffer a similar incident might find the information of use. I’ll number each of these updates so that if you have found this page via a search engine, you can easily work out where to start if you want to read from the beginning (actually that doesn’t really make sense because this article is actually the beginning but you know what I mean). I’ve included the keywords ‘escape of water’ in the headings as this is what insurance companies refer to this type of claim as.

Next update once the loss adjuster has visited…

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