Landlord scores partial win in tussle over burst pipe claim

An Australian landlord is set to recover some of their $15,400 renovation costs following a ruling by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

After a burst flexihose flooded their rental property last March, the homeowner promptly installed a new kitchen to make it fit for tenants again.

Suncorp, the insurer, initially denied the claim, stating that the landlord had failed to meet the policy requirements for damage assessment, according to

The dispute centred around the lack of photos and disposal of the damaged pipe by a plumber, actions taken without the landlord’s knowledge.

“In assessing the claim, the insurer had the opportunity to obtain a more detailed report from the plumber regarding the cause of the burst pipe if it had concern as to causation of the loss,” AFCA noted.

The authority criticised Suncorp for not adequately investigating the situation, stating that the insurer had “ample opportunity to investigate the circumstances of the loss with the plumber, which it did not”.

However, AFCA disputed the landlord’s claim that the entire kitchen had been damaged by the flood.

“I find it unlikely that the upper kitchen cabinets were damaged by the burst pipe,” AFCA said.

“Given the tenant continued residing at the property after the event, it [is] also unlikely that the kitchen cooktop was damaged by the event.”

The authority acknowledged that the removal of cupboards had hampered Suncorp’s ability to assess the damage fully.

The AFCA ruling concluded that Suncorp was responsible for covering the costs of works only to the kitchen sink cabinet and kickboards.

This decision was based on evidence from the plumber stating that water had completely flooded the property and on “swollen chipboard kickboards,” which are typically a result of water damage.

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