When Linda was having trouble with her washing machine, she found that the cause was a blockage in an underground pipe. But her insurers turned down her claim, so she asked us to investigate if their decision was fair.

What happened

Linda's washing machine wasn't working. She got in touch with a plumber who found that the waste pipe beneath her garden wasn't flowing from the washing machine properly. This meant that water was backing up. So Linda made a claim.

Her insurer sent a drainage company to her house to survey the waste pipe. They said that there was some debris in the pipe, which the drainage company had washed away, so water was flowing again. They said that although there were some minor defects in the pipework, the pipe was still serviceable. So they said this didn't amount to damage and turned down Linda's claim.

What we said

We looked at the drainage report which showed the pipe had some small cracks and a displaced joint. We also looked at Linda's policy which didn't define accidental damage.

We defined damage as an incident caused by 'unforeseen' and 'unexpected' events. We didn't find anything to suggest that Linda could have known the problem was going to happen. It wasn't clear whether the cracks and displaced joint had allowed the debris to get into the pipe, which then caused the problem. But we were happy that this did amount to damage.

Linda's policy covered 'damage', so we decided that the insurer's decision was unfair. We told the insurer to repair the damaged section of the pipe, which included replacing the section if needed.