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Damp can cause a lot of problems in a property. This is especially true when it is not noticed right away.
In many cases the longer you leave damp, the more repairs will cost. For bigger repair jobs, due to rising damp or serious cases of penetrating damp, this can run into the hundreds and even thousands of pounds.
But does house insurance cover damp? After all, the damp problems are often due to defects in the building. You might assume this would fall into the cover provided by buildings insurance.
Unfortunately, this is not usually the case. Buildings insurance very rarely covers a property for damage caused by damp. This is because damp is usually considered a maintenance issue, which results from the wear and tear of a building.
As a homeowner, you should carry out regular maintenance of your property. This includes checking for deterioration to the external and internal of the building. If you are on top of this type of maintenance, it is far less likely that small damp problems, will progress into large expensive repair jobs.
Example Scenario 1
Consider this from an insurers point of view. Let us assume you have a damaged brick that is letting in penetrating damp. In the early stages, this problem could quite easily be fixed by replacing the damaged brick. In addition to this, there may be some minor decorative repairs.
On the other hand, if you ignore the problem, the damage could increase, and water could penetrate deeper into the property. This could result in more damage to decorations. Also, there may be more serious damage, such as wet rot setting into things like skirting boards, and even structural timber.
The first of these scenarios may cost very little to repair. If you do not mind a small amount of DIY you could probably carry out repairs yourself for less than £50.
In the second example, repairs could run into thousands of pounds, and it is likely you will need to hire professional contractors to do the work.
As you can see, the second example is far more expensive than the first. However, they have both been caused by the same issue. From an insurers point of view this would clearly be a maintenance issue. Essentially the reason the problem got so bad, is because you neglected to fix the issue.
Example Scenario 2
Another common form of damp that can cause significant decorative damage, is condensation. In fact, this is the most common form of damp in UK properties.
Condensation is caused by excess moisture in a property. When this moisture meets a cold surface, it condenses and turns back into a liquid. This is known as a dew point and can happen on any surface in your home that is colder than the air around it. For example, windows and external walls.
Over time condensation will soak into surfaces and cause damp. This will eventually form mould which can cause serious damage to the decorative state of your home.
The important point here, is this process happens over a long period of time. For this reason, it is obviously a maintenance issue. Not only that, but there are many very simple ways to avoid condensation.
Performing simple tasks can reduce condensation and mould. These include, but are not limited to:
- Improving ventilation and air circulation.
- Producing less moisture by opening windows when cooking and bathing
- Avoid drying clothes indoors where possible
- Wiping down areas when condensation mould is occurring
- Investing in affordable measures such as extractor fans and dehumidifiers.
Due to all these reasons, there is no instance where house insurance would cover you for damp caused by condensation
Will buildings insurance cover rising damp?
Rising damp is a les common form of damp. This happens due to issues with a properties damp proof course.
The damp proof course is usually positioned approximately 150mm above external ground level. It acts as a barrier to stop water rising from the ground into a property.
Many people assume, that because this is harder to maintain, it will be covered under their building’s insurance. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. The average damp proof course in modern properties will be made of plastic, this will have a lifespan of approximately 50-60 years.
In older properties, non-porous building materials such as slate were used. Whilst these do not have a specific shelf life, they will eventually fail over time and need replacing.
So again, this falls into maintenance and would not be covered by your building’s insurance.
Does house insurance cover any type of damp?
There are some instances where repairs for damp and water damage will be covered by your building’s insurance.
However, it will usually only apply if there is a definable event that caused the issue.
A good example of this, would be damage caused by a storm. This could include roof tiles been blown away and damaged in heavy winds. Here there is a high chance that damp may enter your property and these repairs may be included in your claim to repair the roof.
Another example could be fallen debris and trees, causing damage that results in damp. Again, these types of repairs to damp may be covered by some policies.
Essentially, these are definable events that were completely out of the homeowners’ control. Unlike damp cause by poor maintenance, they could not have been foreseen, and it would have been very difficult to prevent them.
Does house insurance cover damp caused by leaking pipes?
Most insurance policies will cover you for burst, leaking or frozen pipes. This will usually cover two different things.
- Locating and repairing the damaged pipework
- Repairs for water damage caused by the leak
Exactly what you are covered for will depend on your policy, so you should check your paperwork or ring your insurer to find out.
One thing that may not be covered in your policy is water leaks caused by accidental damage. This could involve DIY mistake such as drilling straight through a pipe. However, you can usually add accidental damage cover to your policy if you think it is needed.
As you can see damp is rarely covered by standard buildings insurance. This is especially true for common types of damp, such as rising damp, penetrating damp, and condensation. All of these would be considered as maintenance issues and are your responsibility as a homeowner.
The only time damp can be covered, is when it occurs due to isolated incidents. These are definable events that are completely out of the homeowner’s control.
Obviously, what is covered by your insurance will vary greatly from policy, to policy. Therefore, you should always read the policy to find out exactly what you are covered for. There may be instances where an insurer will add additional cover for certain issues that may occur (at an extra cost of course).