Septic tank insurance claim gone wrong?

Sam Warren's Photo
Written by Sam Warren

Septic tank insurance claim gone wrong?

The UK Drainage Professionals team have decades of combined experience in two things - septic tanks and buildings insurance policies. Sure, it's a bit on the niche side, but for many of our customers, it comes in really handy! Especially when their septic tank insurance claim has gone wrong, and they've nowhere else to turn!

Most property owners are unaware that the costs to repair or replace a damaged septic tank are often covered by their existing buildings insurance policy. There are, as you might expect, a few caveats here, so let's look at those first:

  • If you've got a really cheap buildings insurance policy. The old adage that you get what you pay for generally applies in the insurance policy world - it might seem great to have such low premiums, but when push comes to shove, you might find that you've also not got much cover, or a whole load of exclusions that might prevent you from getting the cover that you need.
  • If you've got a policy in which `accidental damage' is optional....and you've not opted for it. This ties in with the first point really - a cheaper policy can really be a false economy. It's become increasingly common for insurers to offer accidental damage as an optional extra, rather than a core part of the policy itself. But don't get caught out, because it will cover you for all sorts of unforeseen situations - including damage to your septic tank or drainage system, since that's the section that provides cover.
  • If you've got a policy that does cover it, but you have a `tricky' insurer. I think it's safe to say that insurers can sometimes have a reputation for making it tricky to get a claim covered. Although I should say, having dealt with many insurers, that this is only really the case for a fairly small minority! However, it's not just your insurer who can be tricky. Insurers often rely on third parties to assess claims and make a decision on them.....and this can be where things go pear shaped!

So, this is exactly where it went pear shaped for our customer! Our customer had called their insurer to explain that damage had happened to their septic tank, and their insurer had appointed one of their panel contractors to review the claim. So far so good! Except that the panel contractor took an age to assess the claim, visiting our customer's property multiple times in the process, without having managed to suggest a solution to the problem!

Finding the solution to the septic tank problem!

If there's one thing the UK Drainage Professionals team are good at, it's finding the solution to a septic tank problem! Following a call to our friendly team from a customer in West Yorkshire, one of our expert field engineers was sent to visit their property. It transpired that they had called their insurer because they thought they might be covered for the costs of replacing their damaged septic tank. The insurer agreed to send out their appointed drainage expert to review the details of the claim - so far so good!

Unfortunately, the insurer's nominated drainage expert dithered around what had caused the damage to the septic tank, and what needed to be done to put the situation right. Specifically, even after numerous visits to the property, they failed to come up with a solution that met with the required off mains drainage regulations. Most property owners with a septic tank will appreciate that having a property which is not connected to mains drainage comes with a responsibility to the environment, enforced by the Environment Agency through regulations. Replacing or repairing a septic tank without meeting these specific regulations could leave the property owner liable to prosecution - not a situation anyone wants to be in!

The property owner had to make a complaint to their insurer to finally get things resolved. The UK Drainage Professionals team stepped in and took control of the situation, much to the property owner's relief! Our engineers quickly identified the cause of damage, in addition to the solution which needed to be implemented - to get the drainage system at the property working again, but also to comply with the regulations set down on the property owner.

The cause of the septic tank damage

The challenge with septic tanks is that they are situated underground and out of sight. Sounds obvious, as no one would want them perched above ground on display, it wouldn't make much of a feature! However, when a septic tank becomes damaged, it will have happened out of sight, and often the damage is only found once it starts to cause problems above ground. This can be in ways such as the tank overflowing, waste pooling above the drainage system, or the septic tank even backing up to the property.

Often with insurers, the real problems start when there is disagreement over what has caused the damage, and whether it is covered by the buildings insurance policy the property owner has in place. After all, it can be pretty tricky to prove what's caused damage that has happened some time before you came to be aware of it. In this instance, the insurer's representative had concluded that the drainage system had failed due to the baffle being damaged. This had meant that solid waste had been allowed to exit the septic tank and enter into the soakaway/drainage field arrangement, which had caused the entire system to back up and fail. Most buildings insurance policies will provide cover for this type of damage (and others, you can read more here), so this was a good start. The challenge was the lack of specialist septic tank knowledge of the insurer's representative, which meant that they had recommended a number of unworkable next steps - both from the perspective of what was right for the property, but also what would comply with the regulations set down. They had also carried out a percolation test unsuccessfully and not to the correct standard.

Getting the septic tank works in hand

Once the property owner had appointed the UK Drainage Professionals team to resolve the septic tank problems at their property, things moved quickly.

Our engineers identified that the area in which the existing soakaway was situated was now not suitable, and that in addition there was no available space to install a new drainage field. It was also observed that the area in which the new sewage treatment plan would be situated was under a driveway, which would see vehicular movement above. In addition, the existing septic tank needed to be removed as the sewage treatment plant need to be replaced in situ. In order to protect the structural integrity of the tank from the vehicular pressure above, a reinforced weight transfer slab was constructed, and the cover of the tank also upgraded to a suitably pay load rated cover. Each of these aspects were crucial in ensuring that the drainage system could continue to perform as it should for as long as possible.

The property owner was delighted with the completed works, and that the UK Drainage Professionals team was able to get this long standing problem resolved.

Palace wood during
During the sewage treatment plant installation
Palace wood comp
The completed sewage treatment plant installation

Get in touch with our team if your septic tank insurance claim has gone wrong!

Our team are specialists in all things septic tanks and insurance policy cover, so contact us today if you need any help. No matter what stage you're at - whether you'd like to know if you're covered or you've an ongoing problem, we can give you help and advice.

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Sam Warren's Photo
Written by Sam Warren

Sam's career prior to UKDP was spent in the marketing and service industries, so she is focused on making sure we look after our customers – and getting the UKDP message out there! Sam has overall responsibility for business operations and for delivering the best customer service we can.

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