Here at Whywait Plumbing, we frequently get a phone call asking does insurance cover water leaks? Every week we are called upon to deal with insurance companies or assessors on behalf of clients when they have sustained water damage to their home.
With water leaks just like everything else to do with insurance, there seem to be multiple grey areas with numerous interpretations. It is our experience we find every time we deal with an insurance company where the circumstances of the water leak are similar to previous we meet with a different response.
The product disclosure statement issued with your policy is where we find all the confusion starts. This is where the insurance company hopefully discloses what is covered by your policy. If you find the product disclosure statement confusing then call the insurance company to clarify what the coverage is that you are paying for. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question. Also, remember insurance companies record all calls, so keep diary notes of when you called and who you spoke to. Better still send them an email confirming your phone call and what your understanding was of the answers you received. This creates an electronic paper trail that can be utilised at a later date.
Important Definitions & Clauses
There are three important definitions and clauses which appear to apply to the question does insurance cover water leaks:
- the “Water Damage Clauses” in the actual policy
- the definition of what is water damage
- the definition of what is gradual water damage
The Water Damage Clauses
The water damage clauses you should always read carefully and ensure you understand. Generally, it will have a section with several clauses and subclauses in the policy which will cover water damage and what you can claim for if you make a water damage claim on your home.
As a rule, it will state precisely what water damage your insurance policy covers and what is excluded. The exclusions are what you need to be aware of as often they will include an all-encompassing negligence clause coupled with a failure to maintain your home in good repair. If you have these general all-encompassing clauses, ask your insurance company what they precisely mean as we’ve seen these clauses used to deny coverage where it was in a very grey area and open to interpretation in their favour.
The Definition of Water Damage
Water damage can occur in so many ways that it’s generally not well defined in your insurance policy. In our experience, insurance companies specify water damage in two ways:
- accidental or sudden water damage
- gradual water damage
We’ve found that instances such as burst pipes, burst taps, burst valves, overflowing sewerage, overflowing stormwater and storm damage are covered by most insurance policies. This is because it was a sudden event that you could not have prevented.
In contrast, the damage caused by slow plumbing leaks in pipes, showers, toilets, gutters and roofs not damaged by a storm is not covered as they are classified as gradual water damage.
The Definition of Gradual Water Damage
Essentially gradual water damage is the insurance policy get out of jail free card. It is water damage they assess has occurred gradually over time. Frequently the water damage was visible to the trained eye but invisible to you as it covers the rotting of timber under the paint or mould in the walls, floor or ceiling. Essentially the insurance company will conclude you were negligent in not maintaining your home.
Examples of gradual water damage we frequently see are:
- seepage from leaking taps into cupboards
- leaking shower trays
- leaking shower taps
- leaking toilet cisterns
- leaking drain pipes
- rusted out sections in gutters and roof
The water damage from many of these occurrences is often not covered by your insurance policy as it will be concluded you failed to keep your home in good repair through regular and reasonable maintenance.
Water Leak Prevention
The best way to avoid an unsuccessful water leak claim is regular maintenance by Whywait Plumbing. Now this will not prevent every possible water leak scenario happening, but it will demonstrate to the insurance company that you have been undertaking regular maintenance.
At Whywait Plumbing, we see instances every day of water damage that has occurred through the failure to maintain your home regularly. That is why we recommend all our clients to become a Service Partner and enjoy the VIP benefits of having a Service Partner Plan to maintain your most valuable asset, your home, proactively.
More and more Gold Coast plumbing businesses are advertising that they have no call out fee or a $0 call out fee. The perception this creates is that you are getting something for free as they will be cheaper. Of course, perception is never reality as no business can work for free. Let’s face it would you go to work for free?
Let’s face it, would you work for free?
Call Out Fees Ensure All Costs Are Transparent
Legitimate, professional plumbing businesses charge a call out fee because it costs from $50 – $150 just to arrive at your door. A call out fee is there to cover the expense to reach your home. This is because employees are still paid for driving to your home plus there is the running cost of the vehicle and all the other costs that never stop in running a business. Simply the call out fee helps cover costs, it’s not a profit centre nor could any plumber live off a call out fee.
Reality is that if a plumber is not charging you a call out fee then they are going to charge you the cost in coming to your home somewhere else.
The reality is that if a plumber is NOT charging a call out fee then the cost is coming from somewhere else…namely the fee they charge for a job.
Advertising a $0 call out fee or no call out fee is purely playing with words. It is a tactic to get you to call them because they know once they are at your home you are unlikely to send them away because you just want the plumbing work done.
There are four separate tasks involved in undertaking a plumbing repair:
- coming to your home
- inspecting the reported plumbing problem
- diagnosing the possible multitude of possibilities for what is causing the problem
- undertaking the repairs
No Call Out Fee Is Simply Playing Word Games
The splitting of costs into the above cost centres is sensible and transparent because every cost has to be paid for. There is no cost advantage to you if you pay no call out fee but are then charged $155.00 to inspect the blocked toilet and then be told that you have what you already knew that the toilet is blocked and the cost to unblock the drain is $660! Its just semantics and word games to get you to call them because you saw the word FREE.
Remember if something is FREE, it has no value to the business offering it nor to the consumer receiving it. Two old sayings apply when considering using a company that advertises no call out fee:
- there is no such thing as a free lunch
- you get what you pay for
At Whywait Plumbing we charge a call out fee and offer an upfront fixed price guarantee. There is no game playing, our customers are always informed and there are no hidden costs or nasty surprises.
Dissolved lead in your drinking water is a reality in Australia. Lead is used across a wide range of plumbing products that are installed in homes and buildings. The most common products lead is used in is brass fittings and taps.
Some brass plumbing fittings allow the lead to dissolve into the drinking water where the water has been unused for long periods. This process is more pronounced in your hot water system where the heating of the water to 70 degrees results in an increase in all dissolved metals in the water, particularly lead. This is why you should always use only cold water for drinking and cooking.
If your water supply is sourced from a rainwater tank, you should also be aware that the increased acidity of rainwater may also increase the level of dissolved metals and lead from brass plumbing fittings.
As we have virtually no lead pipes circulating water in Australia in homes and buildings, it is rare for Australians to have elevated blood lead levels that are related to dissolved lead exposure from drinking water. However, at home, you can reduce your exposure to lead in your drinking water by:
- Always using the water from the cold tap for drinking and cooking
- First thing every morning it’s good practice to flush the cold water taps used for drinking and cooking for 30 seconds to draw fresh water through the tap rather than using the water that has been sitting there all night
- If a home or building has been unoccupied for an extended period, then it’s good practice to flush all cold water taps used for drinking and cooking for at least 3 minutes to flush out dissolved metals. If you are in public parks and use a water bubbler or tap it is good practice to flush the water for 30 seconds, especially if it’s not heavily used.
There is no need to have your water tested for lead. What we do recommend is that you follow the suggestions above to flush dissolved metals such as lead, copper and nickel from your drinking water.
A burst flexi hose is a job we attend to almost every day. In all likelihood, you will have multiple flexi hoses in your home. They will exist commonly in both residential and commercial buildings under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom vanity basins, under the toilet cistern and under the laundry tub. Invariably when we attend to a burst flexi hose it has been damaged during installation causing kinking and has further experienced corrosion. Almost always the burst flexi hose was a time bomb waiting to happen. The braided stainless steel “simple to install” flexi hose has over the last 10 years replaced copper pipe connections to taps and toilet cisterns. Unfortunately, the braided stainless steel flexi hose has not lived up to expectations and delivered on the rust protection anticipated. In our experience, a burst flexi hose is caused by:
- incorrect installation with multiple kinks in the braided stainless steel
- stretching of the flexi hose to make the connection fit
- chemical attack from household cleaners
All of the above can create the perfect storm scenario in causing the braided stainless steel to corrode and rust. It then is just a matter of time until the stainless steel braiding fails which allows for the inner liner to burst. Here at Whywait Plumbing, we are now installing a polyamide hi class water hooker from Abey Australia which is the most technologically advanced flexi hose we have seen come onto the market. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker cannot rust or corrode as it uses polyamide braiding that is similar to the Kevlar used in bulletproof vests. The connectors are manufactured from brass alloy so the entire flexihose will never rust even if its continually in contact with chemicals such as chlorine.
We are confident you will never experience a burst flexi hose once we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker as they literally cannot rust and cannot kink but best of all they come with a 15-year rust resistant warranty. Kinking is often the cause of a burst flexi hose but cannot occur with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker. Kinking is simply poor installation as a result of over tightening the connector which twists the stainless steel braided hose. This over tightening creates pressure and tension in the braiding which frequently results in the inner liner bursting through the braiding and rupturing. The Abey polyamide hi class water hooker has a simple design to ensure that it is anti-kink. When we install the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we are able to use two spanners to counteract any twisting that results in kinking.
Most of the flexi hoses currently used have an inner lining manufactured from EPDM which has the potential to absorb and release harmful chemicals such as chlorine into your drinking water. This ability to absorb chemicals also results in a potential burst flexi hose. With the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker the inner lining is manufactured from Softpex Core. The Softpex Core inner liner gives a superior mechanical performance to EPDM guaranteeing a longer life due to its higher tensile strength, higher abrasion resistance, higher working water pressure and non-corrosiveness. The extensive age/stress testing undertaken resulted in an amazing 0% failure rate.
We strongly recommend that you get us to check your flexi hoses every year for rust and/or corrosion and that they are replaced every five years. This will give you the peace of mind in knowing that the flexi hose in your home or business is not rusting and about to explode releasing water at 25 litres every minute that it flows. Rust is the #1 enemy of a braided stainless flexi hose.
When we replace your existing stainless steel flexi hoses with the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker we guarantee you will get:
- superior strength and corrosion resistance
- tested and WaterMark approved for use in Australia
- superior tensile strength
- superior working water pressure
- a superior mechanical performance with the Softpex core inner liner
- a 15-year rust resistant warranty from the manufacturer
As always we must caution you that installing or replacing a flexi hose is not a legally compliant DIY installation and under Queensland law must be done by a licensed plumber. You need to be aware that undertaking a DIY installation has the likelihood of making your insurance coverage null and void and the manufacturer’s warranty null and void if the flexi hose bursts and causes damage. Don’t wait for the ticking time bomb of your existing stainless steel braided flexi hoses to strike! Call us now to get us to upgrade you to the Abey polyamide hi class water hooker.
Plumbing innovations have always been the norm in the plumbing industry. Innovation is change and is always about better ways of doing the same thing.
When I started my apprenticeship the clearing of a blocked drain started using a plunger and was at least a two-man job using 1m long drainage rods. The rods were screwed together and manually pushed slowly down the drain until we hit the blockage. Clearing drains this way frequently took 3-4 hours.
Plumbing innovations mean that we now clear a blocked drain with state of the art high-pressure jetrodding technology that was unknown 20 years ago.
Innovation is always about change, but at Whywait Plumbing we have always been at the forefront of plumbing innovations. We have always lead change as Gold Coast plumbers from the purchase of our first high-pressure water jetting unit in 1992 or installing vehicle tracking systems or introducing guaranteed upfront pricing in 1999.
What we always considered was developing and improving our way of solving your plumbing problems is now referred to as disruptive innovation. I agree disruptive innovation is the new term in business in the 21st century. But it’s not new it’s just a new way of talking about improving our methods and practices using the latest technology.
Change is the norm, but it just appears to be frantic to an outside observer with online banking, online shopping, online flight bookings and so the list goes on. At least with plumbing, it can’t be done online except for those DIY enthusiasts who believe Google Plumbing has all the answers.
The level of disruption through plumbing innovations has impacted all plumbing installation and maintenance has been significant starting with:
- Increasing use of prefabrication of bathroom and kitchen modules off-site where the plumbing is all undertaken in a factory, transported to the site and connected up to a water and drainage connection.
- Continual advances in sustainability with the advent of low flow toilets, low flow taps, waterless urinals and recirculated hot water.
- Advances in energy efficient products with heat pump hot water units, solar hot water, instant hot water and underfloor heating.
- All of the different materials we now use in the pipework, relining of existing pipework, CCTV cameras to inspect pipes and pipe jointing methods where welding is now obsolete.
- Excavation methods with advanced technologies in hydro excavation and tracking and locating of underground services.
The ongoing changes in technology in the plumbing industry are disruptive if not embraced. I agree that plumbing innovations cause a significant difference in how we undertake to solve plumbing problems and how the plumbers at Whywait work now.
Ultimately plumbing continues to be about protecting the health and safety of the community for now and the future to ensure we have good quality water and sewer systems in our buildings.
Replacing Your Hot Water Service – How Will You Know What’s Right For You?
When replacing your hot water service the most common question asked is what will it cost?
Whilst price is always an important consideration, at Whywait Plumbing believe that there are other equally important factors. This article will help you make an informed decision.
Should The Price of the Replacement Hot Water Service Be The First Consideration?
Besides renovating your home, replacing your hot water service is a major cost. It is often an expense that occurs with very little warning.
Unfortunately, unless you like cold showers, this gives you little time to carefully review available replacement options.
Hot water systems are not all created equal and the choice you make today will be one that lasts for the next ten to fifteen years. With ever-increasing energy costs impacting household budgets, having an efficient and well maintained hot water service has never been more important. A cheap hot water service may cost you a great deal more in ongoing expenses.
With So Many Hot Water Systems On the Market How Do You Know Which One To Choose?
With modern technological advances and the push for energy-efficient heating solutions, it’s no longer a matter of just replacing your hot water system with like for like. So how do you know which hot water service to buy?
Hot water services are available in electric, gas, solar and heat pump models, and all come in a huge range of sizes. Purchasing the right hot water service for your needs is something you should seek advice about from a qualified hot water specialist. With a little help from Whywait’s Hot Water Specialists you will be able to select the system that best suits your situation.
Hot Water Service FAQ’s
Before making any decisions about a hot water service replacement you will need to think about:
- What size is your current hot water service and have you ever run out of hot water with your current hot water system?
- Does your current hot water service operate on an off-peak electricity tariff?
- Are your hot water needs likely to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next five years?
- Do you intend to remain in your current property for at least the next five years?
- What is more important to you the initial up-front installation cost or the ongoing running costs?
- Is the quality of the product and length of warranty a consideration when comparing hot water services?
Once you have answered the above points it will be time to consider the available options.