Gradual damage irrelevant as problem not covered in policy

Buildings insurance

When Katherine and Tom discovered damp caused by a leaking pipe, their insurer agreed to pay for the damage. But when further problems were discovered, the refused to pay.

What happened

Katherine and Tom discovered a patch of damp on their dining room wall. Their insurer established that this had been caused by a leaking pipe. They agreed to pay for the wall to be repaired and redecorated. 

They then discovered that there was dry rot in the floorboards in the dining room. Katherine and Tom also had a plumber come round to inspect the damage. When they looked at the sub-floor they found a lack of ventilation. This combined with the rising ground water had caused excess moisture, which caused the rot. 

But the insurer wouldn't pay for the repair to the floorboards as the policy excluded damage from rot. 

What we said

We agreed with the insurer that the rot damage had been caused gradually. We also agreed with Katherine and Tom that they couldn't have known about it happening gradually as the problem wouldn't have been visible to them. 

But we didn't think the rot had been caused by something the policy covered. Like the vast majority of policies, there was no insured event for rising groundwater or excess moisture. 

Katherine and Tom's policy didn't cover the cause of the damage. So we didn't think it was relevant if the cause was gradual or if Katherine and Tom were aware of it happening. We didn't uphold the complaint.