Escape of water claims are costly. Around £2.5 million every day is paid out for water damage, according to Direct Line. Which explains why there is a growing clamour from home insurance companies for leak detection systems to be installed in properties around the United Kingdom.
The premise behind leak detection technology is simple. Often, it takes days and weeks from the point when a burst or leaking pipe was first breached for the problem to be noticed. The longer that a leak remains undetected, the more water that can escape, the greater the damage caused.
Leak detection technology aims to identify problems as soon as they arise. This enables an emergency pipe repair to be carried out quickly, reducing the amount of water lost. Good news for everyone involved.
Water companies in the United Kingdom are turning to leak detection systems such as noise loggers to monitor their networks. Over 2.9 billion litres of water were lost to leaks in 2019-20 and whilst that may appear an eye watering amount, it was a reduction of 216 million on 2018-19.
Technology is clearly making a difference. As a result, insurance companies now want to see leak detection systems adapted and installed in the home to try and reduce the huge number of claims relating to escape of water caused by burst pipes.
The reason that water damage is so expensive is because of everything that comes with it. Repairing the leaking pipe itself is only the start. Finding the problem area can be difficult and may involve tearing up flooring, which subsequently has to be repaired.
Damaged contents such as wallpaper, carpets, artwork and electrical goods need to be replaced and, in some cases, escape of water can cause structural damage including subsidence.
If a home is declared unsafe, then a six to 12 month stay in alternative accommodation is not unheard of. At the extreme end of the scale, insurers may find themselves covering up to five years away from the ruined property.
A lot of escape of water claims start with an unnoticed trickle which eventually becomes a flood. By using leak detection technology, these trickles can be picked up and attended to right away, preventing a potentially catastrophic problem developing down the line.
Leak detection systems in the home can take the form of something as simple as a sensor which monitors water flow. When it identifies an anomaly in what is going on in a property’s pipework system, it alerts the homeowner through an app.
The homeowner can then investigate the problem and if necessary, carry out a pipe repair. Given that it could otherwise take weeks or months for the issue to be noticed, either visually or through an unusually high water bill, the benefits are obvious. Quicker detection, quicker repair and far less damage caused.
Of course, this relies on the homeowner doing something about the problem as soon as they alerted. Most would, as if an insurance company can prove that you did not deal with a leaking pipe despite knowing about it, it can void a policy.
More sophisticated leak detection technology for the home is also being developed. Artificial intelligence can understand a household’s water usage, monitor any significant deviations which could be caused by a leak somewhere and then shut down the water system if detects a problem.
AI brings particular benefits in that regard by being able to turn off water if a leak or burst occurs when the homeowners are away.
Some insurers believe that the technology can make such a difference that they are offering it for free to their policy holders. Hiscox UK have partnered with Leakbot and their smart water leak alarm systems and Horizon Underwriters are working with Hive, who produce and manufacture leak sensors.
Eventually, leak detection systems could become as common place in homes around the UK as fire alarms and burglar alarms. The nation takes the threat of fire damage and theft seriously and protects itself against it through alert systems, so why not water damage?
The benefits of doing so are fairly obvious to everyone.