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Water Damage Insurance Claims Are Still Increasing

Water Damage Insurance Claims Are Still Increasing

Water damage insurance claims are an issue we deal with every week. We are continually called upon to deal with insurance companies or assessors on behalf of clients when they have sustained water damage to their homes.

With COVID-19 lockdowns keeping a large proportion of Australians at home, research from QBE Insurance indicates water damage insurance claims remain at high levels.

New research from QBE Insurance revealed that 77% of people who experienced water damage were home at the time of the incident, unravelling misconceptions that flooding mainly occurs when the house is unoccupied.

The QBE Insurance research statistics reveal that:

  • 77% of claimants impacted by water damage were at home for the water damage incident.
  • Burst pipes, blocked pipes, damaged roofs and old plumbing are the main water damage culprits.

According to the research, internal water damage is typical, with 58% of survey respondents having experienced internal water damage themselves or know someone who has, or both.

This coincides with QBE claims data, which found water damage incidents account for almost a quarter (24%) of all home insurance claims. Water damage insurance claims are one of QBE’s most regular home insurance claims. An average claim is $5,000, and more severe water damage claims commonly reaching over half a million dollars.

“Preparedness and prevention are key to limiting the potential damage caused by internal water damage,” says Arron Mann, General Manager, Short Tail Claims at QBE.

“Water damage can happen whether a household member is at home or not being home more often, as many of us are right now, can increase the pressure on our plumbing and risk to our homes. However, this kind of damage can also be sudden and severe regardless of whether you’re home or not, which is why prevention and knowing what to do when something goes awry are so valuable.”

Despite 53% of research respondents saying their first response to water damage would be turning off the water main, 1 in 5 Australians (21%) don’t know where their water main is, and worryingly, 1 in 5 (18%) also don’t know how to turn it off.

The QBE research also revealed that almost 30% of Australians don’t know what home maintenance tasks can prevent water damage in their homes, with 16% not knowing that home maintenance can prevent it in the first place. Cost is also a factor, with 21% not undertaking any home maintenance because it’s too expensive, while 8% say they don’t have the time.

“Sometimes, the difference between no damage and severe damage can be in how quickly a householder responds. Yet concerningly, many people are unaware that much of this damage – and the stress and cost that comes with it – is often preventable,” says Arron Mann.

The best way to avoid water damage insurance claims is by regular maintenance from Whywait Plumbing. Now this will not prevent every possible water leak scenario from happening, but it will demonstrate to the insurance company that you have been undertaking regular maintenance if claim difficulties occur.

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.

Will PEX Pipes Create a Strange Taste in Drinking Water?

Will PEX Pipes Create a Strange Taste in Drinking Water?

Traditionally most homes used copper pipes to circulate hot and cold water. Since the 1970’s plastic pipes have increasingly replaced traditional copper or galvanised steel pipes.

Over the last ten years, pipe-in-pipe systems have been commonly installed to circulate water in most newly constructed homes. The inner pipe for drinking water is made of a plastic called cross-linked polyethylene (PEX).

Since the advent of plastic plumbing systems, there have always been questions regarding the effects on health and do they affect the taste and odour of drinking water. International studies have shown that plastic pipes can release substances that give drinking water an unwanted taste and odour. It has also been suggested that some of these substances may be carcinogenic.

Several investigations worldwide on health issues have been conducted, and most are inconclusive or positive. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has just released a new study on whether leaching or leakage products from these pipes harm health and if they affect the taste and odour of drinking water. The potential leakage products consist of residues of additives used during manufacture to give plastic pipes their desired properties and any subsequent breakdown products.

The Norwegian study results indicated:

  • There are no health risks associated with drinking water from PEX pipes
  • A few types of PEX-pipe may cause prolonged undesirable taste and odour if the water remains in pipes over time
  • Although the taste and odour usually dissipate with use, water from two PEX types still had an unpleasant smell and taste after a year.
  • The volatile organic compounds that leaked from new PEX pipes were generally low.
  • The level was further reduced with the use.
  • No correlation was found between manufacturing methods and leaking products.

This study was undertaken far more scientifically than many tests or studies in Australia. It is common in Australia for international products that have undergone extensive testing to fail AS4020 based on a highly subjective taste test from a panel of 5 – 7 people. The Norwegian study tested ten different PEX pipe types for leaching products in a standardised laboratory test. The water was in contact with the tubes for 72 hours.

Three different manufacturing methods produce pipes known as PEX-a, PEX-b or PEX-c. These methods use slightly different additives, but this study found no correlation between production methods and leakage products. Two of the most commonly occurring substances detected in the experiment’s water were 2.4-di-tert-butyl-phenol and methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE). For three new pipe types, MTBE was detected in higher concentrations than the US government’s recommended limits for the taste and odour of drinking water (USEPA). Still, the values were reduced to below this limit after the tubes were used for a while.

This study confirms what the plumbing technicians at Whywait Plumbing frequently observe: no matter what type of pipe, there can be a taste or odour in new piping systems or where a house has been unoccupied. The taste and odour soon disappear once the water is in use in the house and is in constant circulation.

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