Insurance: Trace and access explained

Imagine the scene: a leaseholder comes home from work at the end of a long day to find the neighbour from downstairs fuming about a leak from your flat because her ceiling is dripping water.

So first you switch off the water – assuming you know where the stopcock is.  But it isn’t immediately obvious where the leak has come from.

Carpets and floorboards may have to come up, or showers may have to be dug out from behind tiles,  probably all for the sake of finding a tiny rupture in a pipe or joint that is  a 10-minute job for the plumber to actually fix.


The buildings insurer will make good the damage after the fault has been found and repaired. However, if you don’t have trace and access cover they will only cover the damage caused by the original leak, NOT the damage caused by finding the source of the leak in the first place.

As you can imagine, trace and access in a block of flats can involve multiple flats, and costs can be high.  You might also have to grapple with problems over who pays for trace and access if it’s not covered in the insurance policy. Leaseholders may argue that they should not split the bill for a fault within someone else’s flat.

At Deacon, we have no doubt that trace and access cover is essential for blocks of flats, and we only offer policies that include it.

A few words of caution: There will usually be a limit to trace and access cover, but we negotiate high limits of at least £5,000 per claim in any one year with NIG*, and up to ‘no upper limit’ with Zurich*.

Insurers will, of course, expect to cover reasonable costs only, and you should contact our claims team before appointing a contractor (although we rarely dispute an emergency call out).  And do check the small print.  For instance, will the cover extend to matching bathroom and kitchen fittings that are damaged beyond repair?

* Correct at time of publication August 2017.

This article was written by Deacon, blocks of flats insurance specialists.

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