We’ve found in the past that certain subsidence-related questions are fairly commonplace, including how to find cost-effective subsidence insurance.
- what exactly is subsidence;
- how can it be fixed;
- why do I need insurance against it;
- where can I find affordable subsidence insurance?
Here, we’ll try and deal with each of those in turn.
What exactly is subsidence?
The GSI-Insurance subsidence guide is well worth reading for what we think is a good solid overview of the subject.
To summarise here, subsidence is a geological condition that results in the ground below your property contracting or sinking. The causes are many and varied but a loss of water from clay soils due to things such as a drought or old collapsing mine works are two classic examples.
There have also been cases where animal tunnelling has been cited as a cause, though this is rare and sometimes a controversial attribution with some subsidence and animal experts.
Whatever the cause, it can cause parts of your property to move relative to each other, resulting in cracks and other structural damage or property instability. Nationally, the cost of such damage annually runs into several hundred million pounds.
How can it be fixed?
Builders and structural engineers have a number of techniques at their disposal, of which underpinning is perhaps the best known.
That essentially involves putting compensatory foundations into the affected areas of the building.
Unfortunately, the technique isn’t always successful. It’s also sometimes not possible from the outset due to the nature of the problem. In some instances, demolition of the affected property is the only viable solution.
Why do I need insurance against it?
Subsidence may be very minor and not require major building work to remedy. It’s probably also not worth getting too worried if you’re in a new build property and see a few minor cosmetic cracks that an expert attributes to “settlement”. That’s a completely different thing and usually cosmetic.
However, if your property is genuinely suffering from subsidence then the cost to remedy it might be very high and run into many tens of thousands of pounds. In the most extreme cases where demolition and re-building are required, that might easily run well into six figures.
Unless you have property insurance that includes subsidence cover, you’ll have to meet such costs out of your own pocket.
In passing, don’t assume all property insurance automatically includes subsidence insurance. It might not do.
Where can I find affordable subsidence insurance?
Why not contact us to discuss your concerns about subsidence and if necessary, we can typically provide an appropriate and attractive quotation for subsidence cover.
There are a number of factors that typically affect the premium:
- the size and value of your property;
- its age (though don’t assume modern properties are immune);
- its location. This is a major factor because information will exist relating to the geological conditions of your area and the subsidence history/risks associated with it;
- whether or not there has been a previous subsidence claim on the property.
Don’t worry too much about these at this stage. We can discuss them all with you once we’ve made contact.
The most important thing perhaps, is to avoid a do-nothing approach to subsidence insurance. That might prove to be hugely and expensively risky.