When I was growing up in Halifax back in the 1960’s our house had a solid fuel fire with a fire-back boiler. I don’t know if such things even exist these days, but anyway, one day the fire-back boiler burst and water came flooding into the dining room.

I remember quite well how my parents went to great lengths to safeguard our belongings and the dining room carpet, only to be told by the insurance man (yes we had insurance men in those days who came to your house weekly to collect your premium) that they would have been better letting things get damaged so they could claim. Even though I was a small child I can still remember my mother’s reaction.

Fast forward if you will 50 years or so to the morning of Saturday February 11th 2012. To cut a long story short it had been the coldest night I could ever remember and at 11am, as the central heating cranked up and the outside temperature struggled up to -5c, a cold water pipe under the bathroom burst, causing water to cascade down the wall in the hall and drip through the ceiling.

We were quick to react, and turned the water off at the mains within minutes of it starting. The plumber came about 2 hours later. Water was still running down the walls and dripping out of the ceiling, presumably from the small lake that had formed in the roof space whilst the water was still running.

For reasons which I won’t bore you with here it was decided that the best way to access the leaking pipe was to bang out a hole in the hall ceiling. So that is what he did. To minimise damage and mess he first turned the water back on for a few seconds so that he could hear where to knock this hole and to his credit he was pretty accurate.

He replaced the damaged pipe and normal service was resumed, except that we now had a 2′  hole in the ceiling, piles of plaster all over the floor despite a dust sheet, dirty watermarks down the walls  and a wet carpet.

To be honest, at the beginning, I was expecting the hall ceiling to fall down completely with the weight of water, so on the face of it things hadn’t turned out too bad.

Or had they??

I had already called the insurance company before I rang the plumber. Needless to say it was a ‘faceless’ call centre, and the lad I spoke to didn’t fill me with confidence. He promised someone would ring me back, but when no-one did I rang again and spoke to a girl who seemed much more helpful.

I told her my story; waited; banal annoying music; gave my details (again); more music; blood pressure rising; more music; all I wanted was their permission to organise a plumber, how hard could it be? Yes, I should have established that in my first call, and I did try, but the lad just kept saying someone would ring me back to explain things.

In the end she could find no trace of my first phone call so started the whole procedure again. Good job I rang them back or I’d still be waiting. She said I could ring a plumber and that an ‘underwriter’ would ring the following week. I wasn’t feeling safe, happy or reassured by my first dealings with the people who were supposed to help me out of this mess.

The underwriter has rung and wants us to take photos of the damage. She will send a claim form.So now I’m waiting for that and the plumbers estimate to make good the damage, re-decorate and clean the carpet.

This story will now go one of two ways. Either the insurance company will pay up and we’ll all live happily ever after, or they won’t, and my mum’s words of 50 years ago will once more be ringing in my ears.

Which would you put your money on?