Gradual damage irrelevant as the problem wasn't covered in policy

Buildings insurance

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

What happened

Kathani and Taj 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. 

Kathani and Taj then discovered dry rot in the floorboards in the dining room. They 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 that caused the rot. But the insurer wouldn’t pay for the repair to the floorboards as the policy excluded damage from rot.

Kathani and Taj felt the insurer had acted unreasonably and complained. Unhappy with the outcome of their complaint, they contacted us to investigate. 

What we said

We agreed with the insurer that the damage from rot had been caused gradually. We also agreed with Kathani and Taj that they couldn’t have known about it as the problem wasn't visible to them. 

However, we didn’t think the policy covered the cause of the rot. Like the vast majority of policies, there was no insured event for rising groundwater or excess moisture. 

Kathani and Taj’s policy didn’t cover the cause of the damage. That meant it was irrelevant whether the cause was gradual or whether Kathani and Taj knew it was happening. So, we didn’t uphold the complaint.