Pipe wasn’t damaged according to insurer – but we decided otherwise

Home insurance

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

Lindas washing machine wasnt working. She got in touch with a plumber who found that the waste pipe beneath her garden wasnt flowing from the washing machine properly. This meant 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 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 didnt amount to damage and turned down Lindas claim.

Linda felt this was unfair and made a complaint. Unhappy with her insurer’s final response, she contacted us and referred her complaint. 

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 Lindas policy, which didnt define accidental damage.

We defined damage as an incident caused by unforeseen and unexpected events. We didnt find anything to suggest that Linda could have known the problem was going to happen. It wasnt 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.

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