Southwark-based loss adjusters Douglas Jackson are looking into replacing a south London family's car after it was destroyed by water while parked outside the family home.

A burst water main erupted through the street right underneath the car, bringing with it a mountain of rubble and tarmac.

The first local resident Richard Butters knew was when he woke up to what he thought was a torrential downpour in the middle of summer. When he went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea he realised that the sunny weather in the back garden meant it wasn't rain driving against his front window.

When he went outside to see what was happening he discovered the water driving through his neatly parked car.

Thames Water, or its insurer ACE, will have to pay for the replacement vehicle.

Under the Water Act of 1991, Thames would be liable for any damage caused to a third party by a burst water main, even if the problem was caused by somebody else digging up the road and cutting through the main by mistake.

“We have to insure against those liabilities and we take a fairly small deductible,” Thames said.

The cost of repairing the main and replacing the road surface, in this case, a six-metre patch from the centre of the road to the kerb, Thames takes on the chin.

“Mr Butters' insurers might have dealt with this if he had fully comprehensive insurance but, if he didn't, we'll deal with it direct,” the loss adjuster says.