Subsidence insurance is quit evidently insurance against the risk of subsidence. But to get to grips with the concept of the product, it might be helpful first to consider the phenomenon of subsidence itself.
When the foundations supporting a building shift or collapse, the building itself is likely to be damaged as a result of the subsidence caused.
The partial or total collapse of the foundations may arise from a number of factors and the resulting subsidence may cause many different types of damage to a building.
Perhaps one of the most authoritative sources of information about the problem comes from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which suggests that any property owner concerned about the possibility of subsidence contact a qualified professional surveyor to:
- inspect the property;
- determine whether such a problem exists; and if so
- what is likely to have caused it and what might be done to rectify the problem.
Some of the immediate, tell-tale signs which the surveyor may be looking out for include:
- door or window frames that have become bowed or distorted, caused them to stick or jam when opened;
- movement of cracks in the internal plasterwork of the walls;
- movement of cracks along the external brickwork; or
- in the absence of any damp or condensation, evidence that wallpaper that has wrinkled or rippled.
These are by no means the only symptoms of possible subsidence in the foundations of your property and RICS’ eight-page guide offers more detailed advice.
Subsidence insurance is a way of indemnifying yourself against the potentially very costly works involved in stabilising your property once again if it has been subject to subsidence.
Here at GSI Insurance we are specialists in the provision of subsidence insurance and have also published a guide to keeping your property protected in this way against the potentially serious damage the problem may cause.
We specialise in this type of insurance because some insurers – whether the property is residential, commercial, owner occupied or let – specifically exclude this particular peril from the cover provided. In other cases, you may find that you have to pay an additional premium to include the risk of subsidence. At GSI Insurance, therefore, we help you identify those policies which give you such protection – at a competitive rate as far as premiums are concerned.
Is my property susceptible?
There are four principal root causes of subsidence:
- previous mining or excavation works in the area;
- when property is built on clay soils, there is a risk of shrinkage when the soil dries out because of a fall in the level of the water table during long dry spells;
- the growth of roots from trees and bushes may also disturb the stability of the foundations, causing them to collapse; and
- if excess water is allowed to sink into the ground – from broken drainage systems of drainpipes, for example – this may lead to lighter soils being washed away.
If you believe that your property may be in an area subject to any of these conditions, therefore, you might want to consider the security and peace of mind given by subsidence insurance.