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What is subsidence insurance?

Subsidence insurance may help protect your home against possibly one of the most serious risks it might face.

To understand just how it does this, it might be helpful briefly to describe the threat.

What is subsidence?

Building subsidence refers to the disturbance and possible collapse of the foundations on which the structure is built.

It may be caused by a number of reasons, but perhaps the most common is the shrinkage of the soil bearing the foundations. As the soil shrinks, so the foundations are inevitably disturbed and if left unchecked may eventually lead to the collapse of the foundations themselves.

The problem of shrinkage is most widely found in heavier clay soils, where the alternation between the effects of wet weather and the dry lead to the greatest variation in the ground’s load-bearing abilities.

Detailed geological studies by the Clay Research Group have shown the connection between clay soils and the incidence of subsidence – a correlation, found the Group that is exacerbated by the close proximity of trees to buildings. The roots pose the risk of absorbing moisture from the soil in which the tree is growing and, so, contributes the steady shrinkage of the soil.

The ground on which the building stands may also be vulnerable to subsidence because of excessive water logging – from supply or drainage pipes, for instance – or because the area has previously been the site of mining or other extraction industries.

Some locations, therefore, are known to be especially vulnerable to the risk of subsidence.

Subsidence insurance

If there is a known risk, you might find it difficult to secure home building insurance that includes cover for subsidence – the higher the risk, the more expensive insurance claims and remedial works are likely to be.

The high cost of insuring against subsidence may be enough to discourage a homeowner from including the risk in their home insurance plan, even when it is offered.

Although standard insurance policies might exclude the risk of subsidence, here at GSI Insurance we take a more positive attitude and recognise the importance to many homeowners of having the comprehensive cover they need to protect their home from all the risks and perils to which it might be exposed.

By specialising in this niche form of insurance, we are able to arrange cover for subsidence at a competitive rate which other insurers may be unable to meet – whether or not your home is located in an area known to be susceptible to the problem.

You can read our Subsidence Insurance Guide here.

Signs of a potential problem

Subsidence is notoriously difficult to detect with any degree of certainty. Cracks in the walls of the building, for example, might or might not be caused by subsidence and it may require a professional opinion to confirm whether it is the case.

Damp in the walls might also – although not necessarily – be an indication of the early stages of subsidence. This may be evidenced by the rippling of painted surfaces or wallpaper.

Other tell-tale signs might include doors or windows which fail to close properly or start sticking for no apparent reason.

Caught early, subsidence can be repaired quickly and with little disruption. If you are worried about subsidence, seeking specialist help and advice from a qualified professional may be your next step.

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