/ Home & Energy, Money

Pushing pipe insurance – what’s in it for your water provider?

A burst water pipe

As if utility bills aren’t high enough, water companies are encouraging us to buy largely unnecessary pipe insurance. But do they have their customers’ best interests in mind?

Hands up how many of you got a letter from your water company extolling the virtues of water pipe insurance? I bet plenty of you received a letter advocating Homeserve’s pipe cover.

But did you realise that your water company may already offer an assistance scheme that will partly or totally cover the costs of fixing any supply pipe leaks? Probably not, because many companies don’t flag these schemes up anywhere as much as they do the insurance option.

Is money an incentive?

So, why do they do this? It doesn’t take a cynic to conclude that the water companies are making something out of their tie-up with the pipe insurers. They also know that people who buy this kind of cover are more likely to claim on it than seek help from them when something does go wrong – ultimately saving the water supplier a costly bill.

In fact, out of the 12 water companies we looked at, 10 of them were found to be pushing water pipe insurance products. Only  Dŵr Cymru and Northern Ireland water avoided pushing sales.

What makes this set up even worse is that there’s a fair chance that homeowners will have some form of supply pipe protection included in their buildings insurance. And let’s face it, who likes insurance so much that they’re willing to pay for it twice?

I’m not saying that water pipe insurance is a waste of money – I’m sure it has its uses – such as cover for your supply pipes if they’re not included on your home insurance, or if your water company doesn’t offer an adequate assistance scheme. But in many cases, I suspect it’s just an unnecessary outlay.

Just give us the water

The key issue is that the water companies should stick to doing their core job – supplying water – rather than acting as agents for specialist insurers and peddling cover we could probably do without.

Do you have specialist water pipe insurance? Do you think it’s a waste of money, or has it come to the rescue before?

Comments
Member

I am fed-up with my money being used to bombard me with letters offering this insurance. I assume that I am covered by my home insurance, though I should check. Next time I receive a letter I will check and hopefully I can asked to be removed from the mailing list.

Member

I had a supply pipe leak discovered by my water service provider. Of course I did not have any insurance for this, but I was told that if I repaired it my self the provider would have to pay me a portion of the cost.
It turned out that some years ago [about 10] whilst laying the drive someone had hit the old lead supply pipe with a shovel bending & splitting it.
I dug a ditch from the meter to where the supply pipe entered my house, replaced the old pipe with a new plastic one.
Cost £300, with a £100 refund from the water service provider, so I paid £200 and instead of filling the ditch and relaying the hard surface, I have laid a flower bed above the supply pipe, so in maybe 50 years or so when there is another problem, easy access is provided.

This incident threw up 3 concerns.
1. Why wasn’t the [poisonous] lead supply pipe identified to me so I could have it changed to protect my families health. The provider had carried out work on it’s side during this time and knew that I had a lead supply pipe.

2. I have a water meter but pay the fixed rate, if I had opted to pay the metered rate I grow faint at the thought of how much I would have paid for this leak, as it was on my side.

3. The provider seemed to know of this leak for some time, but it was only when I called them [when the meter was changed] to remind them I was on a fixed rate, that they told me.This makes me wonder if they let the leak continue, knowing that for every gallon of water I ‘consumed’ they would be making a profit.

Member

There are plenty of lead pipes still in use. Whether they are a problem depends very much on the salt content and pH of the water.

Member

By salt content I mean all salts (minerals) present rather than salt as in what we use in food.

Member

I live in a soft water area with low salt content, so feel slightly better now, still peeved that they didn’t tell me though

Member

In general, soft and acidic water is the worst combination. I suggest you contact your water supplier for advice, M.

Member

Wavechange,
Just as I was feeling better! I will have a chat with them later.
Thanks

Member

Home insurance may cover you, to some degree, but the real point here is that most water companies run these repair or replacement schemes, and like you say, it’s your money that’s being used to promote them. Come on water companies, look after your customers.

Member