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Record number of subsidence claims after the dry summer

Eleanor Newis
Dec 5, 2018

Many British homes suffered in the dry heat and a massive amount of subsidence claims resulted.

Insurance companies have said that between July and September this year, there was the highest number of subsidence claims made in the UK in 12 years. It reached the record numbers last seen in the heatwaves of 2006 and 2003.

Over 10,000 homes across the country made claims that were worth a total of £64 million. Experts have however told householders not to immediately panic if they notice cracks appearing.

Laura Hughes, of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: ‘There are many reasons why cracks may have occurred.’

The worst area for this in the UK was the south-east of England, where buildings are recognised as being built on soil prone to subsidence.

What is subsidence?

This is what happens to a building when the ground beneath the foundations loses moisture and shrinks.

It can be caused by a variety of factors, including dry spells that last a long amount of time and mean that the soil loses water. Trees and shrubs can also contribute as they absorb lots of water from the soil.

Clay soil is seen to be at higher risk of this, and leaking underground pipes due to problems with drains or water mains can also cause the soil to soften more. Normally, this is covered by buildings insurance.

Laura Hughes continued: ‘Insurers understand that this is a stressful time for affected homeowners and are providing widespread support to help with repairs.

‘Get in touch with your insurer if you believe your home is experiencing subsidence and they’ll be on hand with the best expertise and the best technology.’

Warning signs of subsidence can include cracks appearing suddenly in properties, usually around windows and doors. A telltale sign is if these cracks are thicker than a 10p coin.

10,000 claims between July and September is roughly four times the number of claims seen for this in the previous quarter (2,500) and in the last quarter the value was £14 million.

The ABI said that this massive increase of 357% was the highest jump between quarters since records began over 25 years ago.

With the concern about subsidence rising across the UK, now is the time to inspect your home insurance policy if your property is built on clay soil, or has other risk factors. Check that subsidence is covered by your policy and use a comparison website like A Spokesman Said to ensure you’re preparing yourself with the best deal should it ever been an issue.


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