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What to do about subsidence

Subsidence is likely to be any property owner’s worst nightmare. The damage it causes and the invariable expense of putting things right makes it a special concern and case in point when it comes to home building insurance.

A story in the Guardian newspaper on the 20th of February 2016, for example, details a number of the difficulties encountered by homeowners when trying to insure their homes even when problems with subsidence may have occurred many years ago – and subsequently remedied.

Insurance may still be available

Although a careful search might identify insurers still prepared to take on the risk, you may find it increasingly difficult and may face not only higher than usual premiums, but also an excess that might amount to a very significant £5,000 or more.

Here at GSI Insurance, we are especially aware of these problems and the dilemma faced by homeowners where subsidence may be a problem. As specialist home insurance brokers, however, we have access to providers who may still be prepared to cover your property, even if it has suffered subsidence in the past or if you are worried about it in the future.

We have even published a detailed guide on the subject of subsidence and some of the ways you might tackle any difficulties in arranging suitable insurance.

Reducing the risk of insurance

In addition to enlisting the protection of suitable insurance, actually reducing the risk in the first place is likely to be one of the keys to safeguarding your home against this menace.

Here are some of the ways you might help to do just that:


  • this happens when roots from trees dry out the soil – shrinkable clays in particular – during periods of prolonged dry weather or drought;
  • tree roots grow and spread, of course, where water is plentiful – so if you have a leaking drain, this is likely to encourage damage through the invasion of roots;
  • not all trees growing near buildings cause structural damage or subsidence;
  • even the RHS, however, finds it difficult to provide definitive guidance on which species of trees may be safely planted close to your property – since, given certain ground conditions, any species of tree may cause damage;
  • if there are trees growing close to your property, it may be better to control the growth and extent of the foliage (and, so, the growth of roots) rather than uproot it completely, since the hole in the ground might itself cause subsidence;


  • even without the potentially damaging effects of tree roots, broken and ruptured drains may soak the ground in which they are buried to such an extent that foundations are weakened and subsidence occurs;
  • make sure to have your drains checked on a regular basis and arrange remedial works before a more serious problem develops;

Choosing your property

  • if you are in the market for purchasing a home, many future problems may be avoided simply by doing your homework and choosing a property in an area which has long been safe from any hint of subsidence.

When the steps you may have taken to reduce the risk of subsidence nevertheless show themselves to have been to no avail, you are likely to be glad of the subsidence cover included in your specialist home insurance.


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