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Aviva Ireland: home insurance claims rise by 4.5%

The outbreak of Covid-19 has driven a 4.5% increase in home insurance claims for our customers in Ireland. 

Aviva Insurance Ireland DAC (Aviva) have released claims data which reveal the company recorded an increase in both the volume and cost of settling home insurance claims in 2020. Preliminary data shows the gross incurred cost of these claims may have increased by 20%.

Water damage was found to be the number one cause of claims – accounting for 37% of all claims, an increase of 14% on 2019. 

Aviva says that, with people spending more time in their homes, there is increased pressure on heating and water systems, resulting in a higher frequency of water leaks causing damage in homes.  

The increase in water damage claims is actually a trend we are seeing year on year as more modern homes come with additional bathroom, en-suite and toilet facilities.
David Lyons, Senior Claims Manager, Aviva Ireland

Fire claims to family homes also rose by almost 10%, and regular storms throughout the year resulted in a dramatic 48% increase in the number of storm related claims to private properties in 2020.

Commenting on the data David Lyons, Senior Claims Manager at Aviva said:

“The increase in water damage claims is actually a trend we are seeing year on year as more modern homes come with additional bathroom, en-suite and toilet facilities, all of which increase the potential for such incidents. Poor workmanship and the use of inadequate materials in certain instances have also contributed to the frequency of water leaks in the home. This appears to be a particular factor in some homes built during the Celtic Tiger boom period in the mid-2000s. Undoubtedly however, the fact that more people are staying in their homes due to the pandemic is a major driver of the higher volume of claims”.

Highlights from the Aviva Home Insurance Claims Report 2020

  • The most common type of water claim received was due to leaks from en-suite facilities.
  • Some 38% of water damage claims received in 2020 originated in the en-suite bathroom, 34% arose from issues with domestic water pipes and 17% from central heating pipes.
  • Preliminary data shows the gross incurred cost of water damage claims has risen by 20%.
  • Claims arising from water damage varied from minor damage as a result of burst pipes, leaking radiators or blocked drains, to very significant damage to homes caused by overflowing water storage tanks in the attic space, and everything in between.

David Lyons explained:

The fact that more people are staying in their homes is a major driver of the higher volume of claims.
David Lyons, Senior Claims Manager, Aviva Ireland

“The outbreak of Covid-19 has seen our customers and their families spending significantly more time at home as they are working, attending college, and being home schooled remotely. 

"This, and the closure of sports and gym facilities due to lockdowns, has led to an increase in the use of water and heating facilities in homes, which has put additional pressure on those systems."

Unusual Claims

While the impact of water damage in the home can be very distressing for the homeowners, particularly when valuable or much-loved possessions are destroyed, Aviva was notified of some slightly unusual claims from home insurance customers in 2020:

  • A customer placed the contents of an ashtray in a bin under the sink.  The contents were not fully extinguished and ignited the bin which melted a water pipe above it.  Thankfully, the water from the pipe extinguished the blaze which avoided what could have been a very significant fire claim. 
  • A family Sunday roast was abruptly interrupted when a ceiling collapsed onto the dining table just as they were all ready to tuck in.  A leak in the bathroom above not only destroyed the bathroom and the ceiling but the dining table and the roast dinner whilst giving all the family a big fright.  They did see the funny side of it eventually!
  • Toddlers are notorious for turning on taps for no reason whatsoever and walking away.  Unfortunately, these actions are sometimes not discovered until water is found pouring through ceilings, downstairs etc with the potential for significant damage done to the home.  One toddler did this on more than one occasion! Ouch!


Media enquiries

Anne Mathews, Communications & PR Manager  
+353 (087) 246 0358


Aviva home customers in Ireland have Help in a Home Emergency cover as standard. In the event of a home emergency, such as a burst pipe, we can provide assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 1800 565 556.

Aviva can provide a repair service to your home and prevent any further damage caused by a water leak from pipes, fittings, sanitary fixtures, and fixed installations within your home.

Common causes of water damage in the home and how to prevent them:

Burst Pipes

Pipes should be insulated with special attention for the joints and bends.

Keep the heating on continuously at around 12c during particularly cold snaps.

If you’re away during a cold spell you can set your heating to come on for 1-2 hours each day to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Blocked drains

Do not pour fat, grease or oil down the drain when you are washing up.

Avoid a hairy situation in the bathroom; by pouring a simple solution of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar down the drain followed by warm water.

Damaged water tanks

If you see any signs of corrosion/rust/cracking or leakage, take immediate action with the appropriate expert.

Remain especially vigilant of galvanised water tanks, they were installed during the 1970’s, and have now reached the end of their lifespan and should be replaced.

Leaking appliances

Check for leaking radiators, toilets, washing machine and sinks. Sadly, a leak, no matter how small it starts, rarely resolves itself. Find the source!

Keep your eyes peeled for seals, rust, mould and dampness.

Shower & Bath seals

Even a small leak can lead to wet/dry rot. Check regularly and reseal when necessary. 

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
  • We exist to be with people when it really matters, throughout their lives – to help them make the most of life. We have been taking care of people for more than 320 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’.
  • In 2020, we paid £30.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers. 
  • Aviva is invested in our people, our customers, our communities and our planet. In 2021, we announced our plan to become a Net Zero carbon emissions company by 2040, the most demanding target of any major insurance company in the world. This plan means Net Zero carbon emissions from our investments by 2040; setting out a clear pathway to get there with a cut of 25% in the carbon intensity of our investments by 2025 and of 60% by 2030; and Net Zero carbon emissions from our own operations and supply chain by 2030. Aviva has been leading this agenda for decades: Aviva was the first international insurer to go operationally carbon neutral in 2006 and we are champions of renewable energy and energy storage at our offices, allowing us to achieve our 2030 carbon reduction target (70% reduction on 2010 levels) 10 years early. Find out more about our climate goals at www.aviva.com/climate-goals and our sustainability ambition at www.aviva.com/sustainability.
  • Aviva is a Living Wage and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at www.aviva.com/social-purpose
  • We are focused on the UK, Ireland and Canada where we have leading market positions and significant potential. We will invest for growth in these markets. Our international businesses in Europe and Asia will be managed for long-term shareholder value. We will also transform our performance and improve our efficiency. Our transformation will be underpinned by managing our balance sheet prudently, reducing debt and increasing our financial resilience.
  • Total group assets under management at Aviva group are £535 billion and our Solvency II capital surplus is £13.0 billion (FY20). Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
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