Subsidence is one of the potentially most serious risks faced by any building and is the reason for a large number of home insurance claims.
But it is also perhaps one of the least understood of the risks to your home, so here are a few subsidence insurance FAQs.
What is subsidence?
Subsidence occurs when the downward pressure of the weight of a building cannot be supported by the ground on which it is built. This causes the ground to move unevenly, the foundations to fail, and structural damage to occur to the building.
What are heave and landslip?
Subsidence, heave and / or landslip, are three separate types of incident, but usually get wrapped up under the category of subsidence. You can find out more by reading our Guide to subsidence and subsidence insurance.
What causes this subsidence?
Subsidence may be caused by many factors, including:
- shrinkage or swelling – sudden changes in the moisture content of the soil, causing it either to shrink or to swell, so disturbing the foundations in the ground;
- previous mining activity in the area and the collapse of the ground into areas where minerals have been extracted;
- landslips; and
Is settlement the same as subsidence?
The short answer is no. All buildings may normally be subject to a degree of settlement, during which the load of the structure settles evenly into its firm foundations.
New houses are likely to be especially subject to such harmless settlement – although signs and symptoms may be worryingly similar to those caused by subsidence.
What is covered by subsidence insurance?
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) offers the reassurance that subsidence insurance typically gives protection against any of the causes of subsidence – whether shrinkage or swelling, heave, landslip or sinkholes – provided you notify your insurer immediately any potential for concern is detected.
Because the two are different, subsidence insurance does not cover normal settlement.
Neither does it cover the cost of preventing subsidence.
What it does cover is the cost of investigating and monitoring the problem (although you may need to bear some initial costs yourself and subsequently reclaim these), any remedial measures put in place, and repairs to the damaged building.
Do I have to pay an excess?
Subsidence insurance invariably attracts an excess.
Because of the potentially high cost of remedial works and the expense of settling claims, insurers strive to keep down the cost of premiums by incorporating a relatively high excess into the majority of policies.
An excess of £1,000 is not uncommon, therefore, and if there have been subsidence problems in the past or your property is in an area known to be vulnerable, the excess may be up to 3% of the total building sum insured.
What if I’m finding it difficult to obtain subsidence insurance?
Some insurers may decline to extend subsidence insurance to your property or charge an especially high premium for the cover.
But there are insurance providers – such as ourselves here at UKinsuranceNET – who specialise in arranging subsidence insurance, tailoring your specific needs and requirements, taking into account the particular circumstances of your individual property, with the specialist policies available in the market.
So that you secure competitively priced subsidence insurance for your home, therefore, you might want to contact us now to discuss your requirements and ask for a free, no-obligation quote.
Further reading: Guide to subsidence and subsidence insurance