Discovering a water leak in your home or business premises can ruin the day at the best of times, typically being accompanied by some form of damage or other by the time you spot this escape of water. But, when you don’t have what is called ‘trace and access’ cover on your buildings insurance policy, things can get a whole lot more problematic and expensive.

In a quest to cut the cost of their insurance policies, some insurance providers strip out trace and access cover from their buildings insurance policies, so if you are not aware of this, or do not understand the benefits of trace and access protection, you could quickly learn that it would have paid to check that you had it.

Escape of Water damage - before and after pictures

What is trace and access cover?

Most people would only realise the worth of trace and access cover at the time they have to claim on their buildings insurance policy, once property damage had already occurred.  It is offered to a limit of £5000 or £10,000, on some of the buildings insurance policies that include it.  Trace and access protection is intended to reimburse the policyholder for the cost of finding the source of a water leak that is coming from a burst or leaking pipe within a fixed water or heating installation, up to the cover limit selected at time of purchase.

It only covers the sort of pipework described and will not typically protect you for damage caused by a leaking toilet, corroded pipes, radiators, or taps and washers. It will not offer you protection if a damp course has failed.  Similarly, it is not intended to cover damage caused by any rainwater that has entered the building, due to poor maintenance or another issue with a window, door or roof.  Trace and access cover also typically just covers the cost of tracing the source of the leak. Any damage to skirting boards, ceilings, walls, kitchen cupboards or your electrics, is covered by the general buildings insurance policy.

Benefits of trace and access cover

Tracing the source of a water leak may not be a straightforward exercise.  Water may have travelled a fair distance before it found a place at which it became obvious that something was amiss and it may not be clear where the source of the leak is, whether water is coming from a piping joint or a pipe itself, or where exactly that might be.  The pipes this type of protection cover are typically under floors or behind plasterboard and therein lies the issue, as they cannot be seen.

There are often two approaches to tracing the source of a leak – something along the lines of ripping up floorboards, tiles or other floor coverings, or creating holes in plasterboard to try to find it, or bringing in an experienced company that specialises in finding leaks, through technologies such as thermography, acoustics, endoscopy and use of tracer gas.  Whilst the latter can greatly contain further damage to your home or commercial premises, there is a cost involved in using the service. The former approach can leave you with a big bill on your hands when it comes to reinstating your property to its former condition and you may need to rely on your insurance policy to assist in making the damage good.

Water leaking through the ceiling - Trace and Access may be needed

Pitfalls of not having trace and access cover

If you do not have trace and access cover, you will most likely have to pay tradespeople a tidy sum to find the leak.  For instance, if you have a lovely tiled floor, that could have to be ripped up to find the source of the leak and, without any trace or access cover, any damages incurred during this process would not be covered.  Your tiled floor could need to be changed and your buildings insurance policy would not pay out, as the reason for the damage was that of tracing the leak.  The same would be true if your lounge wall needed to be broken into, to trace the leak.  You would need to carry out the cost of repair and redecoration yourself.

Trace and access cover in apartments and flats

If you live in an apartment or block of flats, having trace and access cover could be even more crucial, as water leaks could travel quite some distance down a building, before they become an issue.  The source could be another person’s apartment and not yours.  This should make you think deeply about this cover, particularly if you are a landlord.

Issues with water damage claims

Water damage claims, even if you do have trace and access cover, can lead to some fairly serious wrangles.  The insurer and their appointed representative, typically a loss adjuster, may be reticent to reinstate property under the terms of your policy, in the way that you believe the policy should be interpreted.  Our Aspray property claims managers and loss assessors often find that an inadequate offer of compensation is made, or insured property owners are asked to make compromises that are neither satisfactory nor reinstating the property to its pre-loss condition.

This is just one reason why it can be advisable to get a property claims expert in your corner, even if you have trace and access cover.  Being on your side in the negotiations, they will strive to gain you your rightful entitlement from the buildings insurance policy that you bought and will argue your case in an informed and passionate way.  That can be a huge help and also take pressure off of you, because you know you are not fighting alone.

Appointing a loss assessor

If you wish to have help with your buildings insurance claim, you can do so from day one, after a claim has been turned down by your insurer, or anywhere in-between.  It takes just one phone call to our Aspray team on 0800 077 6705 to provide your instructions.  From there, we will work with you every step of the way, making site visits to view the damage and putting the claim together for you.  Even better news is that, if you are happy for us to instruct our vetted contractors to handle the schedule of works required, you will not pay us for our service.  All you will usually need to pay, in this instance, is the excess that you agreed with your insurer when you bought your policy.

In this way, we can steer you around the loopholes and through the small print, endeavouring to get the very best outcome and settlement for you.  If you need assistance right now, please just call, or else note down our number for future reference.  We have helped thousands of people just like you.


Get £100 off your excess with our voucher when you instruct Aspray to handle your property damage insurance claim. Terms and Conditions Apply.

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