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Subsidence claims hit record high — will your home insurance go up?

Eleanor Newis
Jan 9, 2019

What to do if your home is affected.

After the summer of 2018 being very hot, tens of thousands of homes made claims for subsidence, totalling £64 million overall. These claims were only during the third quarter of 2018, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The figures show that from July to September last, subsidence claims in fact reached their highest levels since the heatwaves of 2006.

It’s important to know how subsidence might affect your home and the price of your insurance.

Subsidence claims go up across Britain

Over 10,000 households made claims during only three months of 2018. These are official figures released by the ABI.

In the previous quarter, only 2,500 claims were recorded, coming to a total of £14 million — this means that the claims in fact rose by 350%. This is the highest jump there has been between quarters in 25 years.

What is subsidence?

Subsidence is what happens when the foundation of your house sinks or collapses, and it usually happens when homes are built on clay soil. This is because it tends to shrink and move due to to hotter weather.

Initial signs of subsidence are usually the sudden appearance of cracks in walls, and this usually happens after long periods of dry weather.

Is subsidence covered by home insurance?

Most home insurers do cover damage caused to property by subsidence, however you need to be aware that the excess is usually quite high — typically this can be £1,000.

The cost of fixing subsidence damage varies a lot according to the severity of the damage that has been done to the house. It can often range from thousands of pounds to over £100,000 for more serious repairs.

Buildings insurance policies will only cover subsidence damage to your actual house — not areas such as patios or gardens, or walls, driveways, and pools. You can get cover for these areas, but this is likely to be more specialised and will require you speaking to your provider.

Houses that have suffered damage for subsidence are at a higher risk of suffering the same damage again. This can mean it’s difficult to find a new insurer when you’ve had a subsidence claim in the past. You should be aware that there is a likelihood you will be refused cover.

Will the cost of home insurance rise?

Which? spoke to a number of insurers to see if home insurance premiums will rise. The firms they spoke to agreed that overall, prices are unlikely to change.

However, for individuals who have claimed for subsidence in the past, this could be different. This is because insurers take a number of factors into account when working out how much to charge customers for premiums. This is whether or not you’ve made a past claim.

To reduce the cost of subsidence to your home however, you can take a number of steps to ensure the damage is lessened and you’ll therefore have lower insurance costs.

Firstly, you can make sure you have trees and shrubs planted at least five or 10 metres away from your property. This ensures that their roots don’t dry out the soil, which can cause foundations to sink.

Another way to reduced the risk is to keep pipe and drainage systems up-to-date and maintained, so that you can stop water leaking into the soil underneath your house.

Finally, you should always make sure that you choose an insurance policy that give you adequate cover for your home and protects you against subsidence damage if you live in an area that is at risk of it. Use a price comparison website like A Spokesman Said to get the best deal, and keep your property safe.


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