Skip to main content

Water damage: What does a well-managed and presented insurance claim look like?  

Water is the new fire. Escape of water incidents have increased in frequency and severity in the past few years, with large losses now as frequent, if not more so, than fire-related incidents, according to the Construction Insurance Risk Engineers Group (CIREG).


A large number of losses have occurred on projects in the final commissioning stages once susceptible fit out elements have been installed. This comes at a time when advances in technology, such as monitoring water flow and automatic flow detection shut-off systems, are more widely available. Update of such systems continues to be low and they are rarely considered at the design stage. As a result, insurers' approach to escape of water risks is undergoing a toughening stance. 

In the face of this stance, what does a well-managed and presented claim look like?

Notify quickly

Early engagement is key. If in doubt, notify your broker about circumstances giving rise to or likely to give rise to a claim - this is a process set out in the policy that should be followed. Inflation plays its part too. Invite a loss adjustor to the site, accompanied by your construction insurance broker, to inspect the damage and agree the next steps.

Commence remedial action

Follow the terms and conditions of the construction contract. Strip out to remove the damp load, but limit the work to what is reasonable, and then salvage what can be salvaged. Utilise heating and ventilation — get expert advice on drying if appropriate. Scope the damage and cost estimates as soon as possible, so that all parties understand the position on damage and quantum. And maintain open engagement with the loss adjustor, and your broker, in order to gain agreement on scope and costs as soon as practicable.

Presenting and settling a claim

It is the narrative that carries the claim, so keep a record of what was done in response to the incident and the reason for the selected course of action. Record the damage with surveys, photographs, and marked up floor plans, and capture the situation as it develops and/or worsens, including the cost of repairs. Apprise the loss adjustor of progress and changes in developments.

Remember: keep it simple. But also keep in mind that insurers’ appointed experts will scrutinise the detail of your claim. Every cost claimed must be linked to the damage caused by the incident, and substantiated with clear evidence.

While full recovery can never be guaranteed, if you are mindful of these steps in preparing your claim, there is a greater chance you'll be successful.

Tim Howard

Construction and Delay Practice Leader, Claims Solutions

Marsh Advisory


Tim Howard is practice leader for construction and delay in Marsh’s claims solutions team, based in London.

He is a chartered building surveyor with 29 years’ experience, including the investigation, preparation and settlement of major and complex losses in the UK and abroad. This is across a wide range of sectors including construction, engineering, power, energy, real estate, and infrastructure.

He also manages significant delay in start-up/advance loss of revenue claims, primarily in the construction industry.

Tim has responsibility for client relationships and regularly sponsors claims where a team of consultants are working on delivery for Marsh’s clients.



Marsh is one of the world’s leading insurance brokers and risk advisers. With over 35,000 colleagues operating in more than 130 countries, Marsh serves commercial and individual clients with data-driven risk solutions and advisory services.

Marsh Specialty is our specialist division, committed to delivering consulting, placement, account management, and claims solutions to clients who require specialist advice and support. Our local specialists work seamlessly with global experts, considering problems from every angle and challenging the status quo with entrepreneurial ideas and solutions. The service offering is enhanced with insight-driven advice supported by tailored data, analytic, and consultancy capabilities to support clients in making important decisions about complex risks.

Marsh is a business of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people.