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Insurance - Do we have a leg to stand on

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Kitten_Pie
Kitten_Pie Posts: 1,961 Forumite
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edited 26 December 2022 at 10:05AM in Insurance & life assurance
Over the weekend we woke up to no water. Thinking the pipes had frozen due to the cold weather we checked the pipes. Shortly after we got a text from our water company saying there was an emergency and they had to turn the water off to the road. Giving us an eta of water being turned back on. At the time it was due to come on it was still off and the house was freezing another text saying it would take longer and they will text again with an update. With no water our boiler wasn't working so we took our 4 children out for a few hours. As usual we check the house over (windows, doors, bathrooms etc) there were no issues.

On receiving a text that the water was back on we return home to find our ceiling caved in and water dripping through the floor. We turn the water off from the main and check upstairs seeing the water overflowing from the upstairs bathroom sink. Call insurance who say keep receipts if we need to get a hotel and someone will call Monday. We get someone in to check that the flooring is safe and we can turn on the electrics (children with a friend at this point) once it is confirmed that we can live in it we return home. 

Monday we phone late afternoon having not heard anything after getting through after multiple hours we are told that they will not cover us as it was "accidental" as a tap was left on. We don't have the additional accidental cover as I was always under the assumption this covered dropping paint over carpet, hairbrush through tv etc. I can understand if we ran the bath and fell asleep however none of this happened the tap wasn't "on" to be left on.

From our investigation putting things together when the water came on it flowed through the open tap (one of those taps which when looking at it there is no way to tell which is on or off as looks the same when we checked there was no running water or dripping etc unlike the kitchen which had a small flow through) the grit from fixing the pipes came out and blocked the sink (plug was not in place) and thus overflowed and we are left with no ceiling. We assume it was the gack from the pipes as the sink was draining the day before and the text message we received said to run the taps for 40 mins to get rid of any discolouration etc.

We have disputed their claim but is there anything else we can do? We have launch a complaint with the insurers and complaint management companies documenting what we thought happened based on the information that we had in pitch black with water coming through the ceiling.

Is there anywhere else we can get help as we claim no benefits but do not have the money to get this fixed. We are looking into potential home loans but with the cost of living and our budgets are so tight we are wary about taking on more debt. 
Overdraft = £1000 Emergency fund = £2500
Competition wins 2015 = £1400
:ANathan Henry & Lincoln Marcus born 19th October 2011 :A
:D Naomi Lily born 28th August 2012 :D Lachlan Georg born 4th October 2013 :D
:D Rowena Hazel born 5th October 2015 :D
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Comments

  • macman
    macman Posts: 53,098 Forumite
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    Without accidental damage cover, I don't think you do have a leg to stand on. You left a tap open, for reasons that are understood, but it's your error nonetheless.
    I don't think it's any different to you being burgled due to leaving the door unlocked while you were out: it would potentially be declined as contributory negligence.
    Have you gone through the policy terms with a fine toothcomb to see if you have grounds for appealing their decision?
    What is the cost of the damage? Is it such that it's worth engaging a solicitor to review your case?
    Do you have legal cover on any of your policies?
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 8,231 Forumite
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    edited 21 December 2022 at 5:09PM
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    It's alaways worth checking if you have legal cover, but I think that the legal helpline won't give you legal advice about suing the insurer due to a conflict of interest. You should be able to check the exclusions on any legal expenses cover you have to see if this is the case. If you can't figure it out, the helpline will tell you if they can't help for that reason. 
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • Kitten_Pie
    Kitten_Pie Posts: 1,961 Forumite
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    edited 21 December 2022 at 5:11PM
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    The cost is going to be in the thousands we haven't yet recieved a quote through but the damage is huge. We have gone through and blocked drains are covered so not sure if that will help as if the drain wasn't blocked the damage wouldn't have happened despite it being open. 

    I will look to see if we have legal cover somewhere I understand where they are coming from but I am not sure how we were to know that it was open when we checked all the bathrooms as usual and had no reason to believe that it wasn't closed.

    I appreciate that I am clutching at straws but we are really panicking as we believed we were covered and on googling most insurance companies include this as part of the main insurance but not ours. 
    Overdraft = £1000 Emergency fund = £2500
    Competition wins 2015 = £1400
    :ANathan Henry & Lincoln Marcus born 19th October 2011 :A
    :D Naomi Lily born 28th August 2012 :D Lachlan Georg born 4th October 2013 :D
    :D Rowena Hazel born 5th October 2015 :D
  • housebuyer143
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    Unfortunately I tend to agree with other posters. It's not the insurers fault your taps do not have an obvious on and off, mine don't either but I just turn them tight to the right 🤷‍♂️ 

    It is accidentally damage ultimately regardless of the circumstances. 

    Blocked drains isn't really for what you are talking about as I imagine any grit only blocked the sink at the top and not actually the main drain? 
  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 5,540 Forumite
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    What an awful combination of events, Kitten. It'll be a hard-faced insurer who won't see to putting this right, since - yes - leaving a tap on was a silly mistake, but an unblocked basin or overflow should have coped with this. So, half your 'error'? (Although to leave the house with the water off and no heating... A Q - why did your CH not work? This doesn't rely on a mains water flow.)
    Do you have photos of the debris in the sink waste?
    Whether you actually have a 'case', I don't know. But you can be sure it'll certainly be 'No...no...no...' unless some pressure can be brought to bear on the insurance co. until the insurance hopefully makes the right gesture.
    Your LP should be quite independent of the insurance co - for instance, I'm with OneCall this year, and my LP is with the RAC. However, you'll likely never know if the LP will be wary of this sort of action - after all, they'll be unlikely to be used again by the ins co.
    Perhaps you need fully independent advice from, say, CAB?
  • SergeantBaker
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    What an awful combination of events, Kitten. It'll be a hard-faced insurer who won't see to putting this right, since - yes - leaving a tap on was a silly mistake, but an unblocked basin or overflow should have coped with this. So, half your 'error'? (Although to leave the house with the water off and no heating... A Q - why did your CH not work? This doesn't rely on a mains water flow.)
    Do you have photos of the debris in the sink waste?
    Whether you actually have a 'case', I don't know. But you can be sure it'll certainly be 'No...no...no...' unless some pressure can be brought to bear on the insurance co. until the insurance hopefully makes the right gesture.
    Your LP should be quite independent of the insurance co - for instance, I'm with OneCall this year, and my LP is with the RAC. However, you'll likely never know if the LP will be wary of this sort of action - after all, they'll be unlikely to be used again by the ins co.
    Perhaps you need fully independent advice from, say, CAB?
    Well done Bendy_House you love a bit of legal protection. 
  • plumb1_2
    plumb1_2 Posts: 4,395 Forumite
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    I miss Bendy.
  • SergeantBaker
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    plumb1_2 said:
    I miss Bendy.
    @ThisIsWeird new name same old Bendy. 
  • Section62
    Section62 Posts: 8,045 Forumite
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    From our investigation putting things together when the water came on it flowed through the open tap (one of those taps which when looking at it there is no way to tell which is on or off as looks the same when we checked there was no running water or dripping etc unlike the kitchen which had a small flow through) the grit from fixing the pipes came out and blocked the sink (plug was not in place) and thus overflowed and we are left with no ceiling. We assume it was the gack from the pipes as the sink was draining the day before and the text message we received said to run the taps for 40 mins to get rid of any discolouration etc.

    I know you aren't adopting this approach, but in case anyone suggests you should take action against the water company.....

    I very much doubt you would be able to make a successful claim that grit/sediment from the water main was the principal cause of the sink overflowing.

    The reason why the water company warns people about discolouration and to run the taps is because it is possible for grit/sediment to be suspended in the water and make its way from the main into your house.

    There are two points here -

    Firstly, the amount of grit/sediment is usually very small and for enough of that to get to your sink and block the drain (but apparently not affect the neighbours?) is an unlikely scenario.

    Secondly, the reason it gets to your tap is because it is suspended in the water, usually because the particles are very small. If it is capable of being suspended in the supply water flow then there would be every expectation it would remain suspended to a large extent as it flows into the sink and then into the drainage system.  If you had some kind of fine strainer in the sink plughole then that might be enough to filter out enough grit/sediment to cause a (partial) blockage, but then the sink overflow should be capable of dealing with that situation.

    Unless you got pictures of the sink or trap being blocked with grit/sediment, I don't think you would be able to persuade the water company (or a court) that this was the cause of your flooding.
  • plumb1_2
    plumb1_2 Posts: 4,395 Forumite
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    plumb1_2 said:
    I miss Bendy.
    @ThisIsWeird new name same old Bendy. 

    That’s Weird 😊
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