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What is subsidence insurance?

Unsurprisingly, subsidence insurance is cover against the risk of your property becoming damaged – or a total loss – in the event of subsidence. It is important to the be aware of the principal features of subsidence and the fact that not all home buildings and contents insurance policies provide cover against such risks as standard.

What is it?

So, what is subsidence? An authoritative guide to all aspects of subsidence is available from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. This identifies some of the typical causes for movement in the ground (subsidence) upon which your property is built: 

  • if your property is built on clay soil, there is a danger that the water table falls or dry weather results moisture in the ground simply evaporating;
  • the growth of bushes and trees may also lead to shrinkage of clay soil, with the result that the foundations of the building are disturbed;
  • if your property is built on sandy, gravel or chalky soil there is a danger of excess flows of water (say, from a ruptured drainpipe or mains supply) washing away the ground on which the foundations are built; or
  • your property may have been built in an area previously subject to mining operations.

How can I tell if my property is affected?

  • evidence of subsidence may include some or all of the following:
  • cracks appear or get worse in external brickwork;
  • cracks appear or get worse in internal plasterwork;
  • windows or doors jam or fail to close properly for no apparent reason; or
  • your wallpaper begins to ripple and you have no reason to suspect damp.

These may be just some of the symptoms of subsidence, upon which you might want to consult a specialist – for drain or geological surveys. Although some problems may be relatively simple to resolve, others may require substantial remedial works. In either event, the sooner the problem is controlled and tackled, the easier the remedy is likely to be


Although you may want to insure yourself against the risk of subsidence affecting your property, it is evident that the seriousness of the problem and the cost of any remedial work may vary quite widely. Because it is difficult to assess the size and value of any risk, therefore, some home insurance providers may only offer this element of protection as an add-on.

For homeowners whose property has already suffered subsidence, which has now been remedied, getting cover going forwards may be difficult.

The good news is that even if your home is considered to be in a high-risk area or has suffered from subsidence problems in the past, specialist insurance providers such as ourselves at GSI Insurance may be able to provide the cover you need at cost-effective price.

If you suspect that subsidence may pose a risk to your property and whether the solution lies in a relatively simple uprooting of trees, the repair of broken pipework or a major and costly underpinning operation, you may wish to consider the benefits of subsidence insurance.

Read our new Guide to Subsidence insurance here for more help and guidance.

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