Consumer complains about how her insurer handled leak from her ceiling

Buildings insurance Distress and inconvenience Up to £1,500

Mary came to us about how her insurer had handled her claim when she discovered a leak in her ceiling, and found that the original repairs weren't effective and caused more problems. This affected Mary's family life for over six months and was incredibly upsetting for her. 

What happened

Mary’s home came with a ten-year buildings warranty when she bought it. In year ten of the warranty a leak started to come through the ceiling. She contacted her warranty provider and it fixed the leak and repaired the ceiling. But around six months later, water started to come through the ceiling again. Mary told her insurer and it said as the warranty had now ended there was nothing more it would do.

Mary arranged for an independent report on the damage which showed the warranty provider hadn’t repaired things correctly, and its engineer had damaged the pipes which were now leaking. She showed this to her warranty provider, but it still refused to do anything further.

Mary then arranged for another report to be completed. This also showed the previous repair works were the cause of the new leak. The warranty provider reviewed this and then agreed to attend, repair the pipes and damage to the ceiling.

In total Mary was left with the leak for just under six months. Over this period her building management company installed a temporary guttering system inside her flat, so the water collected in a bucket in Mary’s living room, which she had to empty daily.

Mary explained that over this time she hadn’t felt able to be away from her home for long in case the bucket overflowed – which was both distressing and inconvenient. She had also had to stop having her grandchildren coming to visit her in the property as she didn’t feel it was safe for them to be playing near the leak with the ceiling weakened by the water ingress. They lived quite far away, so this meant she didn’t get to see them very much.

What we said

Mary didn’t have the funds to repair the issue herself, and we felt the warranty provider missed a number of opportunities to handle the claim but had instead wrongly dismissed the information she presented. We told the warranty provider to repay Mary any money she had spent on arranging reports, but we also thought the handling of the claim had further impact that needed to be addressed.

We accepted that the situation had been distressing for Mary and had caused a serious amount of disruption to her daily life for many months. She spoke about the considerable upset resulting from not being able to see her grandchildren – as well as the impact on her social life while she still had the leak. Mary had also gone to lots of effort in arranging two reports, and there had been a significant amount of correspondence back and forth in order to get the business to accept liability for the damage.

Taking everything into account we recommended the warranty provider pay Mary £1,000 in compensation to reflect the substantial impact its mistakes had caused.