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What is the difference between escape of water and flooding?

What is the difference between escape of water and flooding?

When buying home cover, it’s very important to understand the difference between what insurers deem to be ‘flooding’ and what they see as ‘escape of water’. Get it wrong, and you could be left seriously out of pocket.

The problem is often one of perception; consumers see water everywhere in a home and think of it as a ‘flood’. But depending on the source of the ‘flood’, their home insurance may or may not cover it as standard.

When insurers are looking at claims involving water damage, they usually place them into two types.

One is for water which has entered the home due to external sources. This could be due to a ‘natural’ event, such as torrential rain, or not. The sea coming over a wall into your house would be considered ‘flooding’ from what’s clearly a natural source. But so too would the possible effects of a burst water main in the street, or a dam bursting, which would be a man-made problem.

However, if the cause of the water damage is from within the home, such as a pipe leaking, then it’s categorized as ‘escape of water’. This is also the case if the source is a neighbouring property, or flats, if you live in a block, that are above or even below yours.

While nearly all home insurance policies cover both flooding from and escape of water, problems can arise when it comes to claiming if the policy holder – the householder, for example – hasn’t understood the nature of the policy they’ve taken out.

If a home is in an area deemed to be at a high risk of flooding and/or has experienced flooding in the past, for example, there can be issues with the level of repairs the policy allows for.

It’s the responsibility of the person taking out cover to answer the insurer’s questions truthfully, and to the best of their knowledge. This includes any questions about whether the property being insured is on a flood plain, in an area deemed ‘high risk’ or has experienced flooding before. If a claim is made and the insurer subsequently finds out they haven’t been supplied with the correct information, the claim could be denied.

Similarly, an ‘escape of water’ event caused by pipes which burst due to freezing in the winter, for example, may also cause problems when it comes to claiming on cover, if suitable precautions aren’t taken. Insurers may expect policyholders to lag exposed pipes, or keep heating on at a minimal level to prevent burst pipes.

Misconceptions regarding insurance terminology covering ‘escape of water’ and ‘flooding’ show just how important it is when taking out cover to be aware of what is and isn’t covered by a policy.

It must be borne in mind that home insurance can vary significantly between providers, and going through the policy details and checking any details you’re not sure of with the insurance broker, or the insurer directly, is highly advisable.


Policy Expert

Here at Policy Expert, our dedicated customer service team is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you’re looking for a policy that suits you, or you need to make a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit for more ways to reach us.


Published 24 October 2017