Burst water pipe – do you know what your School has to do?

By Martin McKeogh | May 2021


While we are not here to extoll the virtues of a career in insurance,  it is important to understand some of the key principles. It’s said that in ancient times when merchants and traders navigated dangerous rivers they devised a very basic form of risk sharing or insurance. When a merchant used their own vessel to carry all their own goods, they risked losing everything in the event of an accident. They were taking all the risk themselves. So in time they devised a risk sharing method whereby merchants spread their load of goods across a fleet of vessels of like-minded merchants so that in the event one or a few vessels being destroyed then all was not lost. They still had some goods to trade. 


Insurance, to this day, in its most basic form is still spreading the risk of the few among the many. While the value of the merchants goods obviously varied, ultimately the risk of damage or loss was the same for every merchant as they all had similar boats. The pace at which everything changes and develops in recent centuries, there are much fewer cohorts even within the same industry that have as similar characteristics as those merchants had. 


Insurance companies have had to adapt to try spread the risk of the few among the many in as fair a way as possible. This process filters right down to the policy wording and how the wordings are applied to customers with similar characteristics, similar but not necessarily the same. School insurance is obviously a very distinct cohort but not all risks are the same. 


Burst Water Pipes (BWP) claims have always accounted for a considerable proportion of property damage claims. In some sectors of insurance, such as private home insurance, insurers will apply an increased excess across the board for such claims due to their high frequency. For schools we have taken a more measured approach by way of our BWP endorsement which has been on policies for a number of years now. 


If schools can reduce the risk of having a BWP claim but ultimately are still unfortunate enough to have a BWP claim, then the standard excess of €300 will apply. However when a school hasn’t taken steps to reduce the risk of a BWP claim then we will continue to honour the claim but with an increased excess of €1,000. The basic principle behind this approach is to continue to provide cover for our schools but to not penalise those who by taking reasonable precautions are providing a better risk. Schools that take steps to reduce the likelihood of such a claim should not be penalised because others have not taken the same care. Our BWP endorsement is designed to be cost effective for schools to implement.


The BWP endorsement sets out that a school will be responsible for the first €1,000 of a claim in respect of damage caused by or resulting from bursting of water pipes, tanks or apparatus unless the following precautions have been adhered to

1. All pipe work is fully lagged to at least 19mm protection along its entire length including all joints and/or corners

2. All water tanks in attic spaces must be fully lagged to a minimum of 80mm protection on all sides (excluding underneath) including all feed pipes into and out of such tanks

3. Frost Thermostats must be installed at strategic locations (as directed by an SEI approved contractor) within the School connected to your heating system so that the heating system is activated automatically once the ambient temperature within the School drops to 2 degrees Celsius or below

4. An infrared lamp must be installed in your Boiler House(s) which activates when the temperature drops to 2 degrees Celsius or below unless the boiler itself has a Frost Thermostat fitted in the Boiler House to activate the boiler when the temperature in the Boiler House drops to 2 degrees Celsius or below 

5. The water supply to any portion of the premises which are permanently unoccupied or no longer in use must be isolated or alternatively heat must be maintained in this portion of the premises as per the remainder of the premises

6. For the duration of the Christmas holiday period the water supply must be switched off at the mains


We certainly don’t expect all schools to have the expertise to address these points themselves, but as we approach the summer holidays, now might be the time to engage with a suitably qualified tradesperson to review the requirements and address them before winter hits. 


If you wish to discuss any issues in particular please feel free to contact our School Support Team on 01 6133966* (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm) or through education@allianz.ie. As always you can also contact your Local Allianz Representative to discuss. If you are insured through an insurance intermediary then please contact them directly for assistance.

*Calls may be recorded.