You just bought a house after you had a local company carry out a Home Buyers Survey for just £350. They supplied a long report with loads of pictures and found no major faults. It is your dream home!
You immediately insure your house and you expect that you are covered for events such as accidental damage and floods. These are the typical 'sudden' events that happen during life and naturally you expect to have coverage. You sleep well that night and for many months after.
What happens when you have a leaking shower, a leaking pipe under the kitchen sink or maybe a light in the kitchen that flickers every now and then?
If you landed on this page without understanding about what a home survey is, make sure to read What is a house buyers inspection?.
The insurance company can hardly be expected to repair the tap, leaking pipe or light switch - that is normal wear and tear in many peoples eyes and it is easy to understand why you must pay for these repairs.
Now let us look at what happens when we ignore these problems.
One night as you happily dream, the drain under the sink falls apart and floods the kitchen. You wake up, go downstairs, turn on the light switch to see the damage and there is a sudden fire around the light.
'Lucky I have that policy' you tell yourself as you clean up and go back to bed.
Total refurbishment cost is estimated at £3,500 so you just call the insurance company and wait for their visit.
Now we are in the mysteries of the insurance policy clauses and exclusions. Insurance by its' very nature is there to cover the unpredictabilities of life - the things that you didn't expect to happen but just in case you bought an insurance policy so you could sleep at night safe in the belief that 'I'm covered'...
except... you may not be covered for any of this damage.
Many policies have a 'Gradual Damage Cause' or 'Gradually Operating Cause' exclusion. In simple words, if the damage was caused by something gradually happening over time and that 'something' was visible and obvious and you had the opportunity to prevent damage, you are probably not covered - you should have repaired the sink drain and checked out the flickering light!
After all this, you are out of pocket and annoyed. You call the Home Buyer Surveyor who will quickly point to their clause that states they test a 'representative sample' of items... and they do not do leak tests!
You are a bit unlucky as now let's say you also had a very slow leak in a shower drain below the shower tray which you never noticed; one day the pipe fails completely and the kitchen you just refurbed at your cost after the above events floods again..
Now you could be in luck - because you could not see the shower problem, it is reasonable to consider that you had no knowledge of any problem with the pipe - the cause was 'gradual' but was not visible or foreseeable and the insurance company might just have to pay out!
If this is your first home, please read about why you should do a First-time buyer house inspection checklist.
All this could have been avoided if you took a closer look at the shower before you bought the house - another reason to do a Pre-Purchase House Survey using our checklist.