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Burst pipes and escape of water are the biggest cause of claims to any residential or commercial property

The impact on heritage properties and listed buildings is often even greater, given the nature of their construction and fact that contents are often more valuable and unique in character.

Here are some examples of claims that we have seen:

Lightning damage to a chimney followed by water ingress

This case involved a home hit by lightning badly damaging the chimney and roof of a four bedroom, two storey detached, Grade II Listed property originally constructed in the mid-18th Century.

What happened

The owner was away when the incident happened during a violent thunderstorm in July 2013; a bolt of lightning struck the central chimney stack between the original property and annexe.

ticks The strike split the stack and falling masonry damaged roof slates and gutters

ticks During the height of the storm water penetrated the punctures in the slate roof resulting in damage to internal decorations in a first floor bedroom and hall passage

ticks At ground floor level masonry and debris falling through the chimney stack covered the living room contents in soot.

The outcome

The loss adjuster was able to visit the property the day he was appointed and despite the level of damage to the property, the claim was able to progress quickly due to an early meeting on site involving the loss adjuster, broker and contractor which streamlined the process and got work underway.

Some vibration had occurred causing further damage to a second chimney stack which was discovered during the restoration work but this was also resolved and the house completed and returned to normal in less than six weeks.

Water damage to the basement of the London Library

The London Library is a registered charity with approximately 7,000 members. It occupies a prestigious building in Central London, parts of which rise to six levels about the ground floor and basement. The core of the building dates back to the 1890s and has Grade II Listed status.

The Library suffered damage in August 2011 when a mains pipe burst causing water ingress into the basement.

What happened

When the discovery was made the water levels had already breached the lip of the bottom bookshelves which were set 6 inches above the floor level.

ticks Investigations into the cause of the damage revealed it to be a joint to a ceiling height mains water pipe in the basement corridor

ticks The forensic report concluded that the pipe had not been fitted correctly during refurbishments and repairs in the previous year.

The outcome

Damage to the building itself was fairly minimal with drying needed and decorative repairs carried out.

The 3,200 books affected by the water ingress were removed off site for freeze-drying, rebinding and specialist conservation, and the books were not returned to the shelves until humidity levels had been assessed as acceptable.

The books which could not be restored to usable condition were replaced where possible.

Escape of water damaging oak kitchen floor and contents

This incident happened in an 18th-century large detached three storey cellar house. The building was built around the 1720s and the external façade is Grade II Listed. The property is leased from the National Trust and as such the gardens (not the main building) are open to the public on specific days of the year.

What happened

The damage occurred in December 2011 and was caused by a joint at the sink puncturing the central heating pipe when oak flooring was fitted at the premises. Furthermore and at the same time a section of pipe failed.

The outcome

ticks Damage was sustained to the oak flooring which had to be taken up to dry out the sub floor

ticks A number of areas of oak flooring had “cupped”. There was the added complication that all of the oak flooring extended under all of the floor mounted kitchen cupboards and integrated appliances

ticks The wooden floor and kitchen cupboards were replaced and restoration work carried out to two oriental rugs

ticks The humidity also affected 12 watercolours which were hanging in the house.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.